Parents across the town have been given a warning about the importance of children’s school attendance after a mum was given a suspended prison sentence by magistrates on 28 October.
The mum, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was prosecuted by Swindon Borough Council after her son attended Swindon Academy just seven times out of a possible 67 days between 18 February 2013 and 24 April 2013 – an attendance rate of just 10%.
Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard that the pupil’s attendance at the school had been falling each year and that concerned teachers had raised the issue with his mum on several occasions as his overall attendance record was only 31%.
After failing to respond to a warning letter, the case was referred to the local authority. The court heard how the pupil’s mum had failed to engage with any of the efforts made to get her son back into school.
Her solicitor told the court that the child was awaiting an assessment with the mental health team and suffers from ADHD which has not been diagnosed. However, he said his client accepted that she had not taken advantage of the opportunities to help her.
Magistrates were also informed that the pupil’s mum had been prosecuted on four previous occasions for failing to send her children to school.
She admitted knowing her child was failing to attend regularly at the school and of failing to ensure he attended.
Sentencing, chairman of the Bench Geoffrey Earl said magistrates were strongly guided by the fact this was her fifth conviction and the second aggravated offence. He said it was so serious it crossed the custody threshold.
The mum was sentenced to four weeks in prison suspended for 18 months. She was also handed a 12-month community order with 9 months’ supervision and to attend 10 sessions at a women’s group run by the Probation Service. She was also ordered to pay costs of £500.
Cllr Fionuala Foley, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Every parent has a duty to ensure their child attends school regularly and while the vast majority of parents in Swindon do a fantastic job, there is a small minority who are failing to do the best by their children.
“We take poor attendance very seriously and I hope this prosecution serves as a warning to parents that we will take action.”