The Education Investigation Service (EIS) is the Local Authority’s statutory service for the enforcement of school attendance and other education related legal interventions.
All parents have a legal duty to ensure their children receive a suitable full-time education. If a parent fails to ensure that their child attends regularly at the school where they are registered, the parent can be guilty of an offence.
The Local Authority has a duty to ensure that parents fulfill this responsibility. Though enforcing school attendance is the primary area of work for the EIS, the service also undertakes other important duties.
- regulating child employment
- licensing child performances
- investigating children missing from education
- behaviour related penalty notices (for more information see below)
In enforcing attendance, EIS have a variety of powers to help them ensure that children are properly educated:
School Attendance Orders
When a parent does not secure a place for a child at a school or educates them elsewhere, then a school attendance order can be issued requiring you to register a child at a named school. Failure to comply with the order is an offence and upon conviction you may be fined up to £1000.
Fixed Penalty Fines
These are an alternative to court and have two payment schedules. If paid in 21 days the fine is £60. If you go over 21 days the fine doubles to £120. If you fail to pay the fine within 28 days you can be prosecuted.
A fine can be issued if you take holidays in term time. A fine can be issued for absence from school. A fine can be issued if a child is excluded and seen in a public place.
Education Supervision Orders (ESO)
In some circumstances we can apply to the court for an ESO which will share parental responsibility between the parent and the EIS. If you fail to follow directions under the order you may be fined up to £1000 or Social Care may investigate the child’s circumstances.
A Parenting Order will require you to attend parenting groups to develop your parenting skills to help to manage your child’s behaviour. If you breach the order you may be fined up to £1000.
Education Investigation Officers undertake enquiries upon receipt of a complaint from a school, other professionals or a member of the public that a child is not attending school on a regular basis, or is continually late after registration has closed.
On some occasions it may only be necessary to issue a formal written and verbal warning. If these warnings are not complied with, officers will interview witnesses from the school and other agencies that the parent may be involved with and compile a range of evidence. It may be necessary to interview a parent under caution to establish their account of events before deciding to place the matter before the Magistrates Court.
If found guilty of the offence at the lower end, upon conviction the parent may be fined up to £1000. If found guilty at the higher end for the aggravated offence, upon conviction the parent may be fined up to £2500 and/or 3 months imprisonment. If the parent fails to attend Court for the aggravated offence we shall seek a warrant to secure attendance. Schools and families are expected to work together to resolve attendance issues.
Support should be offered to children and families when pupils are experiencing difficulties in school or welfare issues are disrupting their education. Schools have a duty to notify the Local Authority of any child or young person who have 10 consecutive days of unauthorised absence and/or a pattern of irregular attendance that they cannot resolve.
However, where school’s are unable to improve a pupil's attendance they will refer the pupil to the Local Authority. Schools are likely to refer a case to the Local Authority if:
- a pattern of irregular attendance is continuing or getting worse
- parents are refusing to discuss with the school ways of improving a child's attendance or will not accept their responsibility for ensuring the child attends school
- parents are refused leave for a family holiday in term time but the child is absent anyway
EIS will investigate the school's concern on behalf of the Local Authority and will respond appropriately.
If you are a concerned parent or have some questions about school attendance or need support please see the Family support page.