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Parent prosecuted for children's poor attendance at school

City of York Council

11:37am 2nd July 2012

City of York Council has prosecuted the parent of four children, aged 10, 11, 14 and 16, who failed to attend school regularly

York Magistrates Court heard (on 28 June) that the youngest child, aged 10, who is registered at a primary school in the city, had failed to attend on 21 out of a possible 142 occasions between October 2011 and February 2012.

The child had an absence rate of over 15 per cent which compares to the city average in primary schools of less than five per cent.

The child’s older siblings all attend a secondary school in the north of the city. The court was told that average absence in City of York secondary schools is less than seven per cent.

However, the court was told that the child’s older sibling aged 11 had been absent over the same period on 28 occasions equating to over 19 per cent absence. The siblings aged 14 and 16 had missed 34 sessions equating to 23 per cent absence and 88 session equating to over 60 per cent absence.

The children’s’ schools had invited the parent to meet with them to discuss the concerns regarding the children’s attendance, the parent had failed to provide any legitimate reason for much of their absences and consequently the head teachers had made the decision to not authorise the absences, which prompted action from the authority.

The Local Authority had also invited the parent to meet with them so they could inform them of the possible consequences should the children’s attendance not improve. Both schools and the Local Authority had also written to the parent on a number of occasions to explain their concerns and the possibility of legal action being taken if the parents did not ensure their children attended school regularly.

The parent pleaded guilty by letter with Magistrates imposing fine of £315 and £100 costs.

Mark Smith, Schools Adviser, City of York Council, said:

“The council only uses the courts as a last resort where attempts to encourage good attendance have failed, but our priority is to protect the interests of the children who are being denied the education to which they are entitled.

“The Local Authority and other agencies have worked to support the parent. However, this is thankfully a rare case, as attendance in our schools is excellent.”

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