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Written Statement - Fixed Penalty Notices for regular non-attendance at school

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The consultation sets out proposals for the introduction of fixed penalty notices to address the issue of persistent unauthorised absence from school.
Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

A consultation on proposals for the introduction of fixed penalty notices for regular non-attendance at school closed on the 22 February. The consultation ran for twelve weeks and provided an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on and inform further policy development of the proposals to implement penalty notices.

I asked my officials to undertake a thorough analysis of the consultation responses as I want to ensure all views are fully considered. As with all consultations the responses and views vary. However, in the main there is general agreement with the proposals. There are two main issues arising from the responses that I will address in light of the points raised; the implementation of a local code of conduct by local authorities and the power for head teachers to issue penalty notices.  

Responses to the consultation called for either a national code of conduct or a more detailed ‘model’ code of conduct prepared by the Welsh Government.

The penalty notice system is an additional option that can be used as part of local authority intervention strategies for less entrenched attendance issues. The intention of a local code of conduct, should a local authority choose to implement within their area, is to allow local authorities and schools take into consideration local and individual circumstances.

Welsh Government guidance on the penalty notice system, which will be published in advance of the regulations coming into force, will provide detailed guidance on the format, content, consultation and application of the local code of conduct. The guidance will contain an example of a code of conduct intended to provide local authorities with a template they may use for their own code.

The guidance will make clear that local authorities, following consultation with their schools and police, may limit the power of issuing penalties to the authority only and not head teachers if they so wish as part of their code of conduct.

The summary of responses document is available on the Welsh Government website and I have now instructed my officials to prepare regulations to introduce fixed penalty notices for regular non-attendance at school from 1 September 2013.