Mother jailed for not sending child to school

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By Truro People | Wednesday, December 08, 2010, 09:59

A mother in Cornwall has become the first in the county to be jailed for failing to make sure her child goes to school regularly.

The woman from Truro, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sent to prison for 28 days by magistrates in the city after admitting the offence.

She will serve half her sentence behind bars and the rest in the community.

The woman pleaded guilty to failing to ensure her child attended regularly a local school between January 18 and July 7 2010.

Out of a possible 204 sessions the child had 170 unauthorised absences.

The case was heard at Truro Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Magistrates were told the woman had a number of previous convictions for the same or similar offences, including two previous offences of the same description relating to the same child.

John Heath, the council’s Principal Education Welfare Officer, said he hoped the sentence would send a clear message to other parents and carers who fail to fulfil their legal duty to ensure that their children attended school regularly.

Speaking after the case he said: “Education Welfare Officers in Cornwall work closely with schools, parents and pupils to try to sort out attendance issues.

“This may involve arranging home and school visits to discuss the situation.

“They will try to find out the reasons why the child is not attending school and take steps to try and get the child back into school. This includes offering support or putting them in touch with other agencies.

“Prosecution is a last resort when everything else has failed.

“Where parents are finally taken to court for school attendance offences they do run the risk of being fined or sent to prison, and in this case, the magistrates have reflected the seriousness of the offence by imposing a custodial sentence.”

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