Freedom of Information request - Penalty Notices Issued for non school attendance

Steve Pickles made this Freedom of Information request to Kirklees Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Kirklees Borough Council,

In relation to Birstall Primary Academy School for the school years 2015/2016 & 2016/2017 (to date) could you provide me with information and clarification on the following please:
I'm led to believe that the decision to issue a fine following an unauthorised absence lays wholly with the headteacher / principle. Is that correct ?
If that is the case then what criteria would the principle be expected to follow, I assume this would not be based on a personal dislike of a pupil or parent and all unauthorised absence would result in a fine being issued. Is that correct ?
How are you, as an education authority ensuring consistency in the issue of fines ?
In both this and the previous school year can you tell me how many authorised absences were granted - how many pupils and for how many sessions. Where an absence was granted can you categorize the exceptional circumstances ?
Can you for the same periods tell me how many unauthorized absence days there were and how many fines were issued against those, if any were later withdrawn could you summarize those too please.
Can you identify how many fines were issued by your authority on behalf of Birstall Primary Academy specifically for term time holidays.
Could i also ask what the income from term time absence penalty notice fines is spent on ?
Could you provide me with the cost to the authority of administering these penalty notices per annum and the revenue generated from these specific penalty notices.
Can you provide me with your evidence or any evidence you are in possession of which substantiates the governments claim that term time holidays are detrimental to a child's well being and / or education.
Could you clarify what your authority and the school determine as "regular attendance" and also why you / the school appear to determine an unauthorised absence of less than 5 days is not worthy of a fine. I would expect that 1 x 10 days and 5 x 2 days would have the same effect on a child's education be that positive or negative.

Thank you for your time.
Yours faithfully,
Steve Pickles

Freedom Info, Kirklees Borough Council

Dear Mr Pickles

I confirm receipt of your information request and that I am looking into this.

I will respond to you in due course.

Regards

Information Access Team
Legal, Governance & Monitoring
Telephone: 01484 221000 (voice activated switchboard – please ask for Freedom of Information)

This email and any attachments are confidential. If you have received it in error - notify the sender immediately, delete it from your system, and do not use, copy or disclose the information in any way. Kirklees Council monitors all emails sent or received.

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Freedom Info, Kirklees Borough Council

Dear Mr Pickles,

I am writing in response to your request dated 10 July 2017.  This has
been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

The Council’s response to your specific questions is set out below:

 

In relation to Birstall Primary Academy School for the school years
2015/2016 & 2016/2017 (to date) could you provide me with information and
clarification on the following please:

1.      I'm led to believe that the decision to issue a fine following an
unauthorised absence lays wholly with the headteacher / principle. Is that
correct?

It is the head teacher’s role to consider whether or not the absence falls
under exceptional circumstances.  It is a statutory duty to fine for
unauthorised absences. Please see Education Act 1996, Section 444 (1) and
444 (1a)

 

2.      If that is the case then what criteria would the principle be
expected to follow, I assume this would not be based on a personal dislike
of a pupil or parent and all unauthorised absence would result in a fine
being issued. Is that correct?

The absence must not be of exceptional circumstance and (in Kirklees) for
more than 5 consecutive school days.

 

3.      How are you, as an education authority ensuring consistency in the
issue of fines?

The Kirklees Code of Conduct is followed.

 

4.      In both this and the previous school year can you tell me how many
authorised absences were granted - how many pupils and for how many
sessions. Where an absence was granted can you categorize the exceptional
circumstances?

This information is held by the school not the Local Authority.

 

5.      Can you for the same periods tell me how many unauthorized absence
days there were and how many fines were issued against those, if any were
later withdrawn could you summarize those too please.

Individual days or sessions are not recorded, only the number of fines
issued for a period.

 

6.      Can you identify how many fines were issued by your authority on
behalf of Birstall Primary Academy specifically for term time holidays.

9 to date in this last academic year.

 

7.      Could i also ask what the income from term time absence penalty
notice fines is spent on?

Revenue collected from fines covers the cost of administering penalty
notices.  Any surplus is returned to central government.

 

8.      Could you provide me with the cost to the authority of
administering these penalty notices per annum and the revenue generated
from these specific penalty notices.

The cost to the authority of administering penalty notices cannot be split
down to individual school level, as costs vary significantly from school
to school depending on whether cases go to prosecution, and the complexity
of individual cases.  Any unpaid penalty notices are heard in court for
non-school attendance.  Revenue is used to cover court and legal costs. 
Across all Kirklees schools, total revenue from penalty notices for the
2016/17 financial year was £145,000.

 

9.      Can you provide me with your evidence or any evidence you are in
possession of which substantiates the government’s claim that term time
holidays are detrimental to a child's well being and / or education.

Kirklees Council does not hold this information. Please refer to
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/news/short...

 

10.  Could you clarify what your authority and the school determine as
"regular attendance" and also why you / the school appear to determine an
unauthorised absence of less than 5 days is not worthy of a fine. I would
expect that 1 x 10 days and 5 x 2 days would have the same effect on a
child's education be that positive or negative.

Regular attendance was clarified in Supreme Court in April 2017.  Children
must attend every day that the school is open.  It is Kirklees Code of
Conduct to fine for leave of absences only after 10 consecutive school
sessions (one session being a morning or afternoon).  A parent with a
child taking sporadic days off may also be subject to a penalty notice
under poor school attendance as opposed to Leave of Absence.

 

 

If you are not content with the handling of your request, you have the
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be submitted within 2 months of the date of receipt of the response to
your original request and should be addressed to the Monitoring Officer,
1^st Floor, Civic Centre 3, Market Street, Huddersfield HD1 2EY. 
Alternatively, you can send an email to:
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Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
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Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Access Team

Legal, Governance & Monitoring

Kirklees Council

Telephone: 01484 221000 (voice activated switchboard – please ask for
Freedom of Information)

 

This email and any attachments are confidential. If you have received it
in error - notify the sender immediately, delete it from your system, and
do not use, copy or disclose the information in any way. Kirklees Council
monitors all emails sent or received.

 

 

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