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What's the fines/prosecution process going to be in reality for not sending children?

(20 Posts)
ChanceEncounter Fri 04-Sep-20 20:20:34

I realise that whilst I have read the school's process on paper, there are some things I don't understand about how it all works.

For example, if the head doesn't recommend you for a fine, can the local authority do it anyway?

If the head does recommend a fine, do you get any notice e.g. send by Monday or get a fine?

If school have started the process of moving towards fines, does it complicate deregistering?

There was an EWO on AMA a while back, hope they wander past!!

OP’s posts: |
herecomesthsun Fri 04-Sep-20 20:34:57

Also do you end up paying £60 or multiples of £60 and at what point do you lose the school place?

pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:00:08

EWO here. Cases will be considered on an individual basis but unless people are really taking the piss, it's highly unlikely anyone will be fined for something genuinely Covid related.

pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:01:15

@ChanceEncounter that was my AMA about a month ago haha, I have changed my name though. I change a lot...

ChanceEncounter Fri 04-Sep-20 22:05:43

Good additional question @herecomesthsun, the policy I read said £60 per parent?

Glad you found the thread @pandamoniummm I also NC a lot!

What if the reason isn't health-specific but general concern? Do you think a consultant letter will be needed?

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pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:10:35

I love a name change! But still me. I've been an EWO 10 years so got a good grip on the job...

I will try to help.

Invoices are sent our for £120 in respect of each child, to each adult living with a child, in a parental role. If paid within 21 days the amount payable is only £60. Like a parking ticket.

pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:11:36

@herecomesthsun you can't lose a school place for non attendance. Rules on removal from the school
Register are very tight and this would be illegal.

pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:16:55

@ChanceEncounter yes, if the child is medically vulnerable we would hope that the consultant they are cared for by would be providing the family with some guidance around whether it is a good idea to attend school or not.

The difficulty is more with non medically vulnerable children LIVING with someone who is medically vulnerable.

We all need to be understanding and mindful of circumstances, we have not said a blanket "no" to fines, but we would only issue them if there was really no justifiable reason not to be in school.

With everything we do, there is the possibility it will result in prosecution, and a trial. We HAVE to be able to prove we have acted reasonably, to the impartial magistrates.

Added to which, we don't like fining people. We like to help and support people to improve their children's attendance and help children to thrive at school. It's rare we fine, and at the moment and as an EWO and human being I just won't be issuing any unless it's really absolutely necessary. I don't think I'll be sending many at all in the near future.

pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:21:13

For general concern, not about a health condition, we will speak to each family and try to reassure them about the measures in place at their child's school. Possibly make a visit or virtual
Visit to the school with them. I guess ultimately if there was no reason for the child not to attend, and parents still choosing not to send - we would need to remind them of their legal responsibilities and ultimately may consider legal action if there was no reason not to attend school. But it would come after all the support we could offer, and only as a last resort.

ChanceEncounter Fri 04-Sep-20 22:21:28

If they fine you let's say September 20th (date picked at random) and you don't show the next week, do they fine again or escalate to prosecution?

How do they actually force you to send your child in?

I've a colleague whose child has been off over a year. Never fined.

OP’s posts: |
ChanceEncounter Fri 04-Sep-20 22:25:58

pandamoniummm

For general concern, not about a health condition, we will speak to each family and try to reassure them about the measures in place at their child's school. Possibly make a visit or virtual
Visit to the school with them. I guess ultimately if there was no reason for the child not to attend, and parents still choosing not to send - we would need to remind them of their legal responsibilities and ultimately may consider legal action if there was no reason not to attend school. But it would come after all the support we could offer, and only as a last resort.

Is this the point you then have to deregister? Anyone who disagrees generally is over a barrel it appears to me, as they can't 'educate' unless they send or deregister (even if they are in fact educating).

OP’s posts: |
TenhillPlace Fri 04-Sep-20 22:30:20

Be careful though, in some LA's and academy trusts it is policy that after 20 days non attendance, you lose the child's place. Fine if the school has surplus places but not if oversubscribed. This is to limit impact on the schools attendance data.

pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:34:51

If you received an invoice on 20th September but then there were further instances of non attendance, I would be asking to meet with parents again but rather than issue another fine, it would make prosecution more likely yes. If the fine the wasn't paid, it would probably increase the chances of us going ahead and prosecuting. If you don't pay a fine, you are prosecuted for the original offence of failing to ensure your child's non attendance at school, you are NOT prosecuted for not paying the fine. You can receive more than one fine a year, but if a fine is not "successful", then really we wouldn't keep issuing and if the attendance was that bad and no justified reason, yes ultimately we would consider prosecution.

pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:37:26

We can't force anyone to send their child in... ever. We have the law to use where appropriate, and it's also true that for repeated non attendance, this would ultimately become a welfare concern and may trigger social care involvement... in turn that may lead to considering removing a child from the home. Failing to ensure a child receives education is neglectful. This would be extreme though.

Hard to comment on your friend without knowing detail / circumstances. There are so many factors and variables.

pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:39:06

@ChanceEncounter regarding the over the barrel - I agree with you sadly. That's why we are supporting the families who come to our attention.

ChanceEncounter Fri 04-Sep-20 22:41:43

I think deregistering early is the only answer really. It's so sad. The government are completely wrong on this one.

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pandamoniummm Fri 04-Sep-20 22:48:25

@ChanceEncounter yes, basically at the moment you either send your child or remove them for home education. However - everything at the moment is down to individual circumstances. Some schools in my area are authorising absences for the time being while parents are unsure. Eg some parents want to wait a few weeks "to see what happens"- I'm not sure what the benefit really is for them, but for the most part schools so far are sympathetic to this and have been authorising. I agree the government have been short sighted about this but having done this job so long, i do also know that it has to be like this really as otherwise it's too open to abuse etc. it's really tough though. Some parents are having to make incredibly difficult decisions and the last thing they need is all the stupid news stories about parents being fined if they don't send their children back!!!

SleeplessWB Fri 04-Sep-20 22:53:09

We are not at PAN so are suggesting to parents that the best option is to de-register and then we will re-enroll when they feel comfortable to send in. This avoids any issues over attendance. Obviously this is not possible where schools are full.

ChanceEncounter Fri 04-Sep-20 23:16:49

Hi @SleeplessWB what is PAN, please?

OP’s posts: |
Flagsfiend Sat 05-Sep-20 06:32:57

ChanceEncounter

Hi @SleeplessWB what is PAN, please?

It's how many children are allowed to be in each year at the school. So if say you have a y1 child in a school where y1 has a PAN of 60 and there are currently 2 classes of 30, y1 is full and there is no space for more children. If however the classes only had 26 and 27 in, the school has spaces in y1. In the first situation if you deregistered you may not be able to get your space back as someone else may take it, in the second situation you'd probably be fine getting a space at a later date.

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