Truant’s mother jailed

A MOTHER who repeatedly failed to send her child to school and who refused to meet with council or school staff has been sent to prison after admitting the offences.

Basildon magistrates heard last week (25 August) that the Ockendon family has been known to Thurrock Council’s Education Welfare Service for several years and that during this time she had refused to engage with the service and other professionals trying to address her child’s poor school attendance.

The court was also told she had also been prosecuted in the past for similar offences and conditionally discharged.

In the three months to which the prosecution relates the mother failed to attend one arranged home visit and four other prearranged meetings and failed to answer the door for two unannounced visits all involving the council.

The child’s school had also tried to organise meetings. She was later invited to the Borough Attendance Panel as a last opportunity to offer an explanation which she did not attend and she ignored two requests for meetings since the council started court proceedings.

The court was also advised of concerns that the situation was starting to have an effect on other children in the family.

The prosecution (brought under section 444(1A) of the Education Act 1996) carries a maximum penalty of a fine not exceeding £2,500 or three months imprisonment.

The magistrates, in sentencing, said that the offence was so serious that the parent should be given three months’ imprisonment, however the sentence was reduced to eight weeks to give credit for her early guilty plea.

The court also re-sentenced the woman for the previous similar offence where she had received a conditionally discharge — sentencing her to eight weeks imprisonment for that offence, the two sentences to run concurrently.

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