Anti-truancy drive sees parents in court

PARENTS of a 14-year-old Ipswich boy who has played truant for almost all of this academic year have appeared in court for failing to send their son to school.

By JOANNE CONSTABLE

joanne.constable@eveningstar.co.uk

PARENTS of a 14-year-old Ipswich boy who has played truant for almost all of this academic year have appeared in court for failing to send their son to school.

The boy had not attended a single school day since July and all but two of those absences have been unauthorised.


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The mother and father, who live at separate address, appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, charged with failing to send their child to school between July 1, 2002 and January 1, 2003.

Today, the parents of 13 other persistent truants are due in court in Essex as Thurrock Council becomes the first education authority to bring parents to court under new fast-track prosecution procedures.

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The move has been introduced in line with government ministers stepping-up their drive against truancy.

In Suffolk on Monday, magistrates heard the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, did not attend any of the 168 school sessions and none of those absences were authorised by the school.

Margaret Smith, senior education welfare officer, prosecuting, described it as "a very serious case of non-attendance".

Mrs Smith said the mother had said she had done all she could for her son.

She added that the process of prosecution had helped and the parents and the boy were working with the welfare services to get a programme together to help him.

But since January 3 to the day of the trial, Monday, February 24, the boy had attended none of the 56 sessions.

In mitigation, Neil Saunders said: "I have met (the boy) myself, he was violent towards his mother, quite frankly if he does not want to go to school no cajoling is going to get him to school.

"The only way this can actually be resolved is by (the boy) himself. He has got to want an education, no matter how many people talk to him, his parents have tried, both have been subjected to violence."

He said the boy had said he would go to school a couple of days a week, but Mr Saunders admitted that the damage had already been done to his education. "GCSEs are out of the window," he said.

Mr Saunders added that the boy had taken another step forward and was taking up a long-term placement with an employer to learn carpentry.

The parents were given a 12 month conditional discharge and were told to pay £50 court costs between them.

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