£120 fines for missing school next term as Leeds Council says attendance is mandatory

Leeds council has clarified its stance on fining parents if they do not send their children back to school on the September return - stating 'all children and young people have to attend'.

By Daniel Sheridan
Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 5:00 pm

The council are responsible for fining parents on behalf of schools in Leeds.

According to the council website, fines are £60 per child, per parent if paid within 21 days.

If paid between 22 and 28 days, the fine is £120 per child, per parent.

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School stock

This covers the whole period of the child’s absence and paid in full, the council said.

If the fine is not paid, parents or carers face prosecution.

The council said they wanted 'all pupils to benefit from the advantages that schooling brings' on the reopening in September.

They said headteachers had 'worked hard following government guidance to make sure that schools in Leeds are safe for children and staff'.

Parents and carers will be legally required to ensure their children attend school regularly, the council said.

Parents or carers are responsible for making sure that their child attends school. If a child is absent, their school or a local authority Attendance Improvement Officer will get in touch to find out why, the council stated.

If your child has an illness or long term medical condition, you will need to let the school know straight away.

Saleem Tariq, Leeds City Council director of children and families, said: “When schools re-opened for certain year groups in June, parents could choose whether they wanted their child to attend.

"However, when schools re-open to pupils in September, all children and young people have to attend, and parents and carers will be legally required to ensure that their children attend school regularly.

“Over the summer, headteachers have worked hard, following government guidance, to make sure that schools in Leeds are safe for children and staff.

"We believe that it is vitally important that children and young people resume their education and start to learn and interact with their peers again to support their academic progress, personal development and overall wellbeing.

“We want all pupils to benefit from the advantages that schooling brings and expect that the vast majority of parents and carers will be happy for their children to return in September.

"Where non-attendance is the result of anxiety about possible infection, we will work with schools and parents to provide reassurance.

"Schools would always consider each case in its own context and work to remove any barriers before contacting the local authority to request to move down the legal process.”

What to do if your child has problems attending school according to the council

You should first try and speak to the school about any problems your child is having to see if they can solve the issue.

The council offer specialist support to families, including:

- mediating between parents and a school when there is a conflict about attendance

- helping to identify the cause of their child’s attendance issues (bullying or family breakdown)

- offering advice to parents who are thinking of drastic measures (changing schools or home schooling)

- signposting to other support in the families’ local area

For support and advice on absence fines, you can call the Education Line on:

0113 222 4414 (Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 5pm, Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm).

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Thank you

Laura Collins