Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any legal concerns we suggest you consult a solicitor.
School Abscence Fine(25 Posts)
Can anyone help and advise me with this?
I’m looking at being fined for my child’s abscence from school.
Earlier this year my newborn was admitted to hospital for surgery, it took a while for us to be allocated a bed and whilst we were still on the emergency surgery list that took a couple of days. The week we were in hospital my partner was running my 15 yr old to school and dropping him at the gate. From the gate he absconded. He’s a bit of a worrier and I feel a bit like he has some kind of separation anxiety too however that’s another issue. So all in all he missed 5 days (10 registration marks). During the week I was pretty helpless, I was 40 miles from home with a newborn awaiting surgery so I asked his dad to step in, he refused and said he wouldn’t help me if I was on fire.
I received a 15 day warning notice and I spoke to school and apologised and asked could the unauthorised abscence please come under exceptional circumstances but they refused.
So I then had to ensure my child was in school between certain dates which I did.
On one of the days he’d forgotten to take in his school shoes (he wears trainers to and from and changes when there) so he was in trouble. He then rang his dad who rang school and said instead of him being in isolation all day he was to go home!! To say I was furious is an understatement. There was no need for him to go home, he was being punished and so should have remained in isolation. Anyway, school called to advise me it was again being marked down as an unauthorised abscence!
I was wondering if anyone has refused to pay the fine and allowed it to go to court?
I just feel like this isn’t my doing, his dad refused to help and then added to the mess! I understand that he will be fined too but I feel it’s unfair.
Is there an appeals process?
Could your health visitor write a letter of support?
It won’t go to court for 6 days’ unauthorised absence.
His dad sounds like a complete arse.
It's misogyny by another name. Why is it always the women they pick on? Why not the men who continually fail to step up? I'm not sure what you could have done. Left hospital with a newborn to drop him at school and i think that is absolutely the point. I cannot see any judge in these circumstances issuing a fine.
To be fair we are both going to get a fine.
Like you say, what could I do? He was dropped at the gate and my partner made his way straight to the hospital. None of us could be expected to sit outside to ensure he didn’t abscond. There is no appeal process. It’s pay up or go to court. And yes 6 days = 12 unauthorised abscence so a fine will be issued.
After he absconded did the school phone to say he was missing?
You might suggest you wont complain about the safeguarding issue if they don't pursue the fine.
No, I just received a truant text along with a barrage of abuse from dad to tell me I was useless! I did ring school to let them know he’d been dropped off though and again advised them of my situation.
What happened about getting him into school before the baby was born? Do you normally walk him right into school?
If not, it's going to be hard to argue that your situation actually changed anything.
I drive him, it’s 10 miles away. He goes without any trouble however like I said he’s a worrier, that week he’d have been worried about his sibling and I.
I would start with a measured email to school.
Something simple and bullet points and factual.
So sept - x date he had x% attendance.
On x date this happened (baby born).
On x dates this happened (consult re surgery)
On x date to x date DP dropped him at school @ x time.
At x time you received messages he wasn't in attendance.
You spoke to school on x dates.
His father refused to support on x date.
On x date he forgot his school shoes and was placed in isolation.
His father was rung at x time and said he's to go home.
Fine received on x date.
Then point out unusual for truancy. Related to his MH due to worry about baby. You didn't fail to get him to school - you were in a situation where you couldn't get to him and his other parent chose not to step up.
The fine has been activated by NRP making decisions.
Then simply ask the school why they hold you accountable for original absences and place blame on you - but then allow other parent to make decisions.
Whether you fight this or not is up to you. He's 15 so will leave school soon so you don't need to 'bank' the absences and fine for a family holiday but also remember that if you lose it'll be costly.
What I would want though is the school to be clear about who they will contact from now on for consistency.
That sounds like a plan. I think I’ll do that. The reason I originally asked was because of the cost should court side with school. Something being on maternity leave I simply cannot afford.
I asked school about who they’re contacting moving forward, the said dad was very abusive re the isolation thing and they “couldn’t hold pupils prisoners” so allowed him to leave however did advise dad it would be unauthorised. They did however say they would back me up regarding the abuse they received from him so there is that.
Why is it always the women they pick on
Most LAs seem to fine both parents even if the child lives with one parent. They do not pick on the women.
There is no appeals process. If the penalty notice has actually been issued it should only be withdrawn if it has been issued contrary to your local authority's code of practice. If you do not pay the LA may withdraw the fine or they may take you to court.
It won’t go to court for 6 days’ unauthorised absence
I wouldn't rely on this. Some LAs would take this to court. Over 20,000 parents per year are prosecuted.
I would start with a measured email to school
I'm afraid that is unlikely to help. As I say above, there is no appeal. Once the fixed penalty notice has been issued the school generally has no say in what happens.
It may be worth contacting the council and pointing out that you are being fined for a day when your son was sent home by the school. Counting that as an unauthorised absence and fining you for it seems harsh to me but, without knowing which local authority we are talking about and what their code of practice says, I don't know if that argument will get you anywhere.
I spoke to council the day he was sent home, they were actually really good about it and even agreed it was unfair, they agreed the time in hospital should have been exceptional circumstances however, the marks were down to the school and the council suggested I speak to school about getting them changed which I did but they refused to amend them from unauthorised.
Go back to the council. They have the ability to withdraw the fine. Concentrate on the latest absence which is due to the school sending him home.
Do you know what his overall attendance is? With our council they will only fine if attendance drops below 90%. Has he had many unauthorized absences previously?
When they told you it happened after the first day why was it allowed to continue for 5 more days? Didn't your partner ensure he went into the school after the first time you received the truancy texts? Where did he go for the 5 days when nobody knew where he was?
No unauthorised previously but he has had abscences.
After the first day I apologised and explained the situation, he was spoken to and trusted to go in. No one “allowed” it to happen, there wasn’t much I could do from the hospital and my partner doesn’t really get involved because then we end up with threats from his dad. He just dossed about on the park he told me. What I do know is that this wouldn’t have happened had we not been in hospital.
I do think the council should override it with extenuating circumstances, if you could speak to your doctor or health visitor and ask for a letter explaining that you were 40 miles away then it might help. Also ask the school for a written statement detailing the abuse that your ex gave, and the reason he was absent the second time. I believe the school should take some blame in that sense.
I'm not sure if it's possible, but I hope that they can help you. And I hope that you and baby are both home and happy now.
Thank you! We are home, all fixed, healthy and happy!
I was taken a court by LA and won! Different circumstances to yours - yours sounds 1000% worst and shouldnt be held against you!! - but I felt I was in the right and refused to pay on principal!! If you have not received a fine yet I wouldn't worry yet but if you do then ring up the council and explain, don't bother with school it's pointless they just note unauthorised absences, my council didn't agree with my argument but that just stuffed them!! Judge made her look stupid. I understand these fines to a degree but the way the LA think they can just rinse everyone they assume is on holiday disgusts me, I can't wait for my kids to leave school!
Wow, well done you!!
I’m going to forward our hospital discharge letter along with a written letter to school and the council this week. I’m going to focus on the full week off since that’s the majority of unauthorised abscences.
I would mind I would never dream of taking my kids out of school for a holiday!
Personally I would focus on the day he was sent home. I think you have a stronger case there. By all means argue both but don't ignore the latter.
Good point. Will do. Thank you everyone!
I’ve had a fine!! Spoke to school and they said it’s the afternoon dad argued with school to let him go home rather than go to isolation over his trainers! To be fair she was very good about it. She advised me to challenge it on the basis that child lives with me and whilst school can’t hold children against parents will I didn’t approve with the absence. I’ve also challenge the fact that we had a bit of a crappy January, giving birth (went as unauthorised as I went in the middle of the night) and baby being seriously ill and dad refusing to help!
The council were quite good about it all too so fingers crossed it gets revoked. From me at least! Don’t care for his dads, he deserves to pay it for not helping us out!!
Keep all communication factual and bucket points. Any calls you make ask for email contact and email to confirm conversation. The only proof you've got you've had conversations is a written paper trail.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Get started »
Please login first.