Cabinet to discuss changes to statutory guidance on school attendance

Updated measures to promote and maintain regular school attendance in Barnsley will be discussed by Cabinet members next week ahead of changes to national guidance on school attendance from September.

We’re committed to making sure all children in our borough receive high-quality education to support them to grow and thrive. The statutory ‘Working Together to Improve Attendance’ guidance is a national legal framework that sets expectations for schools, local authorities, and parents to promote and maintain regular school attendance.

Changes to the guidance will form part of supportive approach for families to help make sure their children engage with education and maintain good attendance. The new guidance acknowledges the need for additional support for pupils absent from school due to mental or physical illness or their special educational needs or disabilities. A new policy will be created on how to respond to pupils with health needs that prevent them from regularly attending school and outline how our services can help.

Where supportive measures are not effective, schools will be able to request a notice to improve letter from Education Welfare. This could result in a penalty notice being issued if the child’s attendance does not improve following further offers of support.

The introduction of the notice to improve letter is based upon the new national framework for issuing penalty notices. Beginning September 2024, the national framework for issuing penalty notices will:

  • Increase the cost of penalty notices to parents for children with unauthorised absences from £60 to £80 if paid within 21 days or £160 if not paid within 28 days.
  • Implement guidance so that only two fines can be issued to the same parent for the same child within a three-year rolling period. Second fines that are issued will be automatically charged at the rate of £160. If the criteria for a third penalty notice is met, evidence will be brought to the magistrates’ court.

The aim of this new framework is to make penalty notices more effective, by making sure they are only used in cases where they are the most appropriate tool to improve attendance.  Local schools, and police, have been consulted on the revised code of conduct for issuing penalty notices which will be followed in line with national guidance from the Autumn term. This will make sure that penalty notices are issued consistently and fairly across Barnsley.

Carly Speechley, Executive Director for Children’s services, said: “We are committed to making sure that all children and young people in the borough have access to high-quality education and achieve their full potential.

“Poor school attendance can have a negative impact on academic achievement, social development, and future prospects for young people.

“We welcome the supportive changes outlined in the ‘Working Together to Improve Attendance’ guidance, where we can take a united approach with families to maintain good education for children in our borough.  

“By working together, we can make sure that our children receive the best possible education.”

A - Z Directory