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Truancy warning given by Essex County Council

Children

Children's attendance in class is important, education chiefs say

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Education chiefs have warned parents in Essex who fail to send their children to school they face legal action.

Chelmsford Magistrates' CourtChelmsford Magistrates' Court

The warning came after Essex County Council prosecuted seven parents this week for not making sure their child was regularly in classes.

One of the children, a five-year-old girl from Braintree, had only a 75% attendance over a 13-week term, while one seven-year-old boy from Loughton had was at just one-third of lessons in a 14-week period.

All of the parents prosecuted at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday had been given the opportunity to pay a fine – £60 if paid within 21 days – but had not done so.

The mum of the Loughton boy did not attend court but was fined £660 in her absence and ordered to pay £191 costs, while the mother of the Braintree girl was fined £120 and ordered to pay £145 costs.

Other parents taken to court included:

• Two Braintree parents were each fined £120 and each ordered to pay £82.50 after their 15-year-old daughter’s attendance was 67% during a 13-week period.

• A Chelmsford mother failed to attend court and was fined £220 and given £147 costs in her absence after her 12-year-old girl recorded 75% attendance over 17 weeks

• A Maldon step mother was fined £120 and told to pay costs of £100 after her step-son only attended school 73% of the time during a 15-week period.

Ray Gooding, county councillor for education, said: “Parents have a legal duty to ensure regular school attendance for their children.

“While we are delighted school absence rates in Essex continue to improve and are below the national average, we are not complacent and will continue to take the necessary action to protect the education of pupils.

“Schools will work with families in the first instance to address the cause of absences and I would encourage parents to contact their child’s school to discuss any absence-related issues.

“If those strategies are unsuccessful and schools do not authorise absences then the matter may be referred to our Missing Education and Child Employment Service.

“Subsequent action could include the issuing of penalty notices or prosecution of parents, in line with the agreed local code of conduct, which can be found on our web site.”

Essex is below the national average for school attendance rates according to the latest Department for Education figures, with 3.8% of absences at primary level (3.2% authorise, 0.6% unauthorised) compared to 4% nationally, and 5.06% (4.01% authorised, 1.05% unauthorised) at secondary school level compared to 5.21% nationally.

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