Cllr MacPherson Gets Tough on Truancy (Sometimes)

A few months ago, Labour leader John Kent asked Portfolio Holder Sue MacPherson to give an unqualified condemnation of parents who take their children out of school in term time.

Strangely, mother-of-two, Cllr MacPherson did not give such a condemnation but instead put part of the blame at the feet of travel companies.

This month, Cllr MacPherson is getting tough with parents who have not ensured their children have attended school………..

Three mothers and a grandmother from Aveley and one from South Ockendon have pleaded guilty for offences regarding their children’s poor school attendance.

They cannot be named for legal reasons.

A mother from Aveley was fined £150 and ordered to pay £60 towards costs. The child’s grandmother, who shared the care and control of the child, was given a 12 month conditional discharge after the child had 56 unauthorised half-day absences.

Both women were warned that if they were to appear in court again and charged with the same offence they could face imprisonment.

Another Aveley mother was fined £120 and ordered to pay £120 towards costs (involving four children, 18, 20 32 and 98 unauthorised absences). She was also warned that she faced a custodial sentence if prosecuted again for the same offence.

The third mother from Aveley was fined £150 and ordered to pay £120 costs (one child and 31 unauthorised absences) and was advised to take her child to school or else she may face a stronger penalty if prosecuted again.

The Ockendon mother (two children 116 and 44 unauthorised absences) received a community order and is required to complete 80 hours unpaid work.

In addition, she was ordered to pay £60 towards costs and warned that, if prosecuted again, she would face a suspended prison sentence.

Cllr Sue MacPherson, Thurrock Council’s Cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “It is really appalling that over the past two months the council has brought several cases before Grays Magistrates Court in respect of children’s poor school attendance.

“It is sad that these mothers have not ensured their children attended school and deprived them an opportunity to education.

“Thurrock Council is taking a robust approach to tackling parentally condoned absence and will continue to use all statutory powers to improve attendance across the borough.”

A further 16 prosecutions are being processed.

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