Pupils cost parents �11,000 in court

CHILDREN playing truant have cost parents and carers more than �11,000 in fines over the past year.

The 2010/11 academic year has again seen a rise in the number of prosecutions of those who have failed to get their children to attend school regularly.

North Somerset Council has a duty to monitor attendance of children of compulsory school age and to take action in cases where pupils do not attend regularly and suitable reasons for absence are not provided.

Over the course of the academic year, 52 cases were successfully brought before North Somerset magistrates, with the total amount of fines and costs reaching �11,532.

On top of this, the court also handed out six parenting orders and one conditional discharge.

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The council can apply to the magistrates court for a parenting order to compel the parent to comply with certain requirements, including attendance at parenting classes. These orders are often for 12 months.

The council’s education welfare team also issued 58 penalty notices for truancy between Sept 2010 and July 2011, which required parents to pay a penalty of �50 per child within 28 days of receipt, rising to �100 if paid between 29 and 42 days.

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If the penalty was not paid in full by the end of the 42 day period, the council then had the option to consider prosecution.

Councillor Jeremy Blatchford, North Somerset Council’s executive member for education, said: “Attending school isn’t optional and if pupils miss school without a valid reason their parents will face prosecution. We will not tolerate truancy and council policy is to use the power to prosecute to deter this practice.”

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