School non-attendance (Revised 2017)

Education Act 1996, s.444(1) (parent fails to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil); s.444(1A) (Parent knowingly fails to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil)
Effective from: 24 April 2017

Triable only summarily

Maximum
Level 3 fine (s.444(1) parent fails to secure regular attendance at school
Level 4 fine and/or 3 months (s.444(1A) parent knowingly fails to secure regular attendance at school)

Offence range
Conditional discharge – Band C fine (s.444(1))
Band A fine – High level community order (s.444(1A))

User guide for this offence


Step 1 – Determining the offence seriousness

The Court should determine the offence category using the table below.

 

Category 1             

Higher culpability and greater harm

Category 2 Higher culpability and lesser harm or lower culpability and greater harm

Category3

Lower culpability and lesser harm

The court should determine the offender’s culpability and the harm caused with reference only to the factors below. Where an offence does not fall squarely into a category, individual factors may require a degree of weighting before making an overall assessment and determining the appropriate offence category.

Culpability demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating higher culpability

  • Refusal/failure to engage with guidance and support offered
  • Threats to teachers and/or officials
  • Parent encouraging non attendance

Factors indicating lower culpability

  • Genuine efforts to ensure attendance
  • Parent concerned by child’s allegations of bullying
  • Parent put in fear of violence and/or threats from the child

Harm demonstrated by one or more of the following

Factors indicating greater harm

  • Significant and lengthy period of education missed
  • Adverse influence on other children of the family

Factors indicating lesser harm

  • All other cases

Step 2 – Starting point and category range

Having determined the category at step one, the court should use the corresponding starting point to reach a sentence within the category range below. The starting point applies to all offenders irrespective of plea or previous convictions.

s.444(1A) (Parent knowingly fails to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil)

Offence Category

Starting Point

Range

 Category 1

Medium level community order

Low level community order –    High level community order

 Category 2

Band C fine

Band B fine – Low level community order

 Category 3

Band B fine 

Band A fine – Band C fine 

s.444(1) (parent fails to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil)

Offence Category

Starting Point

Range

 Category 1

Band C fine

Band B fine – Band C fine

 Category 2

Band B fine 

Band A fine – Band B fine 

 Category 3

Band A fine

 

Conditional Discharge – Band B fine

Band ranges
Starting point Range
Fine Band A  50% of relevant weekly income  25 – 75% of relevant weekly income
Fine Band B  100% of relevant weekly income  75 – 125% of relevant weekly income
Fine Band C  150% of relevant weekly income 125 – 175% of relevant weekly income
Fine Band D  250% of relevant weekly income 200 – 300% of relevant weekly income
Fine Band E 400% of relevant weekly income 300 – 500% of relevant weekly income
Fine Band F  600% of relevant weekly income  500 – 700% of relevant weekly income
Community orders table

The seriousness of the offence should be the initial factor in determining which requirements to include in a community order. Offence-specific guidelines refer to three sentencing levels within the community order band based on offence seriousness (low, medium and high). See below for non-exhaustive examples of requirements that might be appropriate in each.

At least one requirement MUST be imposed for the purpose of punishment and/or a fine imposed in addition to the community order unless there are exceptional circumstances which relate to the offence or the offender that would make it unjust in all the circumstances to do so. For further information see the Imposition guideline.

A suspended sentence MUST NOT be imposed as a more severe form of community order. A suspended sentence is a custodial sentence.

Low

Medium

High

Offences only just cross community order threshold, where the seriousness of the offence or the nature of the offender’s record means that a discharge or fine is inappropriate

In general, only one requirement will be appropriate and the length may be curtailed if additional requirements are necessary

Offences that obviously fall within the community order band

Offences only just fall below the custody threshold or the custody threshold is crossed but a community order is more appropriate in the circumstances

More intensive sentences which combine two or more requirements may be appropriate

Suitable requirements might include:

  • Any appropriate rehabilitative requirement(s)
  • 40 – 80 hours of unpaid work
  • Curfew requirement for example up to 16 hours per day for a few weeks
  • Exclusion requirement, for a few months
  • Prohibited activity requirement
  • Attendance centre requirement (where available)

Suitable requirements might include:

  • Any appropriate rehabilitative requirement(s)
  •  80 – 150 hours of unpaid work
  • Curfew requirement for example up to 16 hours for 2 – 3 months
  • Exclusion requirement lasting in the region of 6 months
  • Prohibited activity requirement

 

Suitable requirements might include:

  • Any appropriate rehabilitative requirement(s)
  • 150 – 300 hours of unpaid work
  • Curfew requirement for example up to 16 hours per day for 4 – 12 months
  • Exclusion requirement lasting in the region of 12 months

* If order does not contain a punitive requirement, suggested fine levels are indicated below:

BAND A FINE

BAND B FINE

BAND C FINE

The court should then consider adjustment for any aggravating or mitigating factors. The following is a non-exhaustive list of additional factual elements providing the context of the offence and factors relating to the offender. Identify whether any combination of these, or other relevant factors, should result in an upward or downward adjustment from the sentence arrived at so far.

Factors increasing seriousness

Statutory aggravating factors

  • Previous convictions, having regard to a) the nature of the offence to which the conviction relates and its relevance to the current offence; and b) the time that has elapsed since the conviction
  • Offence committed whilst on bail

Other aggravating factors

  • Failure to comply with current court orders
  • Offence committed on licence or post sentence supervision

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation

  • No previous convictions or no relevant/recent convictions
  • Remorse
  • Good character and/or exemplary conduct
  • Serious medical condition requiring urgent, intensive or long-term treatment
  • Age and/or lack of maturity where it affects the responsibility of the offender
  • Mental disorder or learning disability (of offender)
  • Parent unaware of child’s whereabouts
  • Previously good attendance

Step 3 – Consider any factors which indicate a reduction, such as assistance to the prosecution

The court should take into account sections 73 and 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (assistance by defendants: reduction or review of sentence) and any other rule of law by virtue of which an offender may receive a discounted sentence in consequence of assistance given (or offered) to the prosecutor or investigator.

Step 4 – Reduction for guilty pleas

The court should take account of any potential reduction for a guilty plea in accordance with section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and the Guilty Plea guideline.

Step 5 – Totality principle

If sentencing an offender for more than one offence, or where the offender is already serving a sentence, consider whether the total sentence is just and proportionate to the overall offending behaviour in accordance with the Offences Taken into Consideration and Totality guideline.

Step 6 – Compensation and ancillary orders

In all cases, the court should consider whether to make compensation and/or other ancillary orders including parenting orders.

Step 7 – Reasons

Section 174 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 imposes a duty to give reasons for, and explain the effect of, the sentence.