Harlow parents warned over absenteeism

ESSEX parents have been given heavy penalties for failing to ensure their children’s attendance at school, evidence that magistrates are taking the offence very seriously.

In the last two months twenty parents were prosecuted in court for their children’s consistent absence, including one who received a custodial sentence and two who received suspended custodial sentences. The parents were each summoned to appear after their children’s attendance did not improve following interventions from the Essex Education Welfare Service (EWS).

Among those convicted was a mother from Basildon who was jailed for three months in October at Basildon Magistrates’ Court. The sentence was given for the latest offence, on top of a history of failed school attendance for her child, a previous conviction for the same offence, failure to co-operate with the EWS, failing to answer bail and shoplifting.

A Brentwood mother was given a four-month jail sentence suspended for a year for failing to secure the attendance of two children at school in September at Basildon Magistrates’ Court. She was also ordered to complete a 12-month Community Order and pay £75 costs. Failure to comply with the suspended sentence would activate the jail term.

Two parents from Basildon, who have since moved to a neighbouring area, were sentenced in October at Basildon Magistrates’ Court for failing to secure their four children’s attendance at school. They each received a six-week custodial sentence for each offence to run concurrently suspended for a year. Between them they were also each ordered to complete a 12-month Community Order, pay £300 costs, and a £140 victim surcharge.

Another parent from Canvey Island was fined £600, and ordered to pay £100 costs and a £60 victim surcharge at a Southend Magistrates’ Court hearing in October. She was ordered to make all payments in 14days.

Essex County Councillor Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “These punishments are proof that unauthorised absence from school will not be tolerated and act as a reminder for parents they have a duty to uphold.

“As the local education authority, we are committed to ensuring children in Essex have the access to the education they deserve to enable them the opportunity to fulfil their potential and regular attendance at school is a big factor in achieving this.

“The decision made to prosecute is not taken lightly and parents are offered every opportunity to engage and work with the service to improve attendance prior to the instigation of legal proceedings.”

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