1500 Luton parents hit by fines for pupil absences

More than 1,500 penalty notices were handed out to Luton parents for non school attendance, a government report has uncovered.

Statistics from the Department for Education revealed that in the 2012-2013 academic year as many as 1,592 notices were given by the council to parents whose children were unlawfully absent from school.

Under section 444 of The Education Act 1996 Luton Borough Council is allowed to issue charges of £60 for those who pay within 21 days and £120 for those who pay within 28 days.

More serious cases can lead to prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500 or a period of imprisonment.

Neighbouring local education authorities imposed fewer notices than Luton Borough Council, with just 80 penalties given across Central Beds.

Just under 40 per cent of these notices were withdrawn by the council.

Of the 1,512 notices given in Luton, 12 per cent were withdrawn and just under a third went unpaid.

Figures also revealed that 5.4 per cent of secondary school students were classed as ‘persistent absentees’.

A Luton Borough Council spokesperson said: “Luton’s tough line on school absences is having a positive effect, resulting in the highest level of overall pupil attendance in the eastern region.

“Our secondary schools are performing exceptionally well with a number of schools reducing absences at an even more a significant rate than nationally – schools can be rightly proud of the progress that has been made in improving school attendance, ” they added.