The consultation sets out proposals for the introduction of fixed penalty notices as an alternative option for addressing the issue of persistent unauthorised absences.
Under the proposals, Local Authorities would be responsible for administering the penalty notice system and would have to ensure that the scheme is administered efficiently, fairly and consistently across the Local Authority area.
The proposed cost of a fixed penalty notice would be £60 if paid within 28 days rising to £120 if paid after 28 but within 42 days. If the penalty was not paid in full by the end of the 42 day period the Local Authority would have to either prosecute for the offence or withdraw the notice.
As well as explaining details of how the proposed fixed penalty system would operate, the consultation also looks at statistical links between attendance and attainment, the main issues surrounding absenteeism from school, and the overall effectiveness of penalty notices.
Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, said:
“Persistent absenteeism can have a detrimental effect on a child’s education. Research has shown that a pupil who misses 17 days of school, authorised or unauthorised, can drop a GCSE grade across all subjects.
“To put it simply, when a child is not in school, that child is not learning.
“The Welsh Government, through its Behaviour and Attendance Action Plan, has put in place a number of measures to improve attendance in our schools and latest figures show attendance rates are moving in the right direction.
“In spite of these improvements, the level of unauthorised absences in Wales still remains a cause for concern.
“I believe that fixed penalty notices would, in some circumstances, provide an important additional option when other intervention and engagement methods fail.
“As well as providing a suitable, quick and effective measure for improving levels of unauthorised absences, these proposals could also reduce the need for lengthy and costly prosecution cases.
“Penalty notices should be viewed very much as an additional option to current intervention measures, but I believe that where used appropriately and fairly, they could make a positive difference to levels of absenteeism in our schools.”