Suspended sentence for mum of truant schoolgirl from Leighton Buzzard

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The mum of a serially truant Leighton Buzzard schoolgirl who missed almost a third of school sessions has been given a suspended jail sentence.

The woman was sentenced to four weeks in prison suspended for 12 months when she appeared at Luton Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard that the pupil attended only 101 of 146 sessions from September 2 2014 to December 19 2014.

And after hearing that it was the mother’s fourth prosecution for her children’s non-attendance, the magistrates imposed the severe sentence, saying that she had “deliberately instigated the child’s non-school attendance, made a significant lack of effort to ensure that her daughter attended school regularly and there had been previous prosecutions for the non-school attendance of other children in the family”.

Presenting its case to the court, Central Bedfordshire Council said that it had taken the prosecution as a last resort after the mother failed to ensure her daughter attended school.

It was claimed that she ignored offers of help from both the school and the council and also failed to turn up to a two previous court hearings.

Cllr Mark Versallion, Executive for Education, said: “This case shows how seriously the courts treat unauthorised absence and sends out a clear and strong message to any parent who fails to ensure that their child goes to school regularly.

“Prosecution is always a last resort for the council. We would always prefer to take positive action, working with schools and parents to ensure that children attend school regularly to ensure that they reach their potential.

“We will always sympathetically look at underlying reasons for non-attendance and consider if other agencies need to be involved so they can help.

“However, if parents then don’t make serious and sustained efforts to improve their child’s attendance we will do whatever we need to, including taking court action, to protect a child’s right to education.”

Under the 1996 Education Act parents who fail to ensure their child’s regular attendance at the school where they are registered face a fine of up to £2,500 and/or three months in prison.

The mother was also ordered to pay £250 in fines, costs and a victim surcharge for failing to register two other children at school