Published: September 7, 2012
Parents in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge warned of truancy fines

Parents in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge have this week been warned they face hefty fines and even prison terms if they allow their children not to attend school.

With the start of the new school year, Somerset County Council has urged parents and guardians to ensure children turn up at school or they could face fines of up to £2,500 and up to three months in prison.

The council's Frances Nicholson told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "It is regrettable that in some cases further action has become necessary, but I entirely support officers in their efforts to get all children to school."

"If our children are to get the education and qualifications they need to compete in the job market, set up their own business, or go on to higher education, they need to turn up for school."

Somerset's rate of persistently truant children is 6.2 per cent, with an England average of 6.1 per cent, while the South West's average is 5.8 per cent.

In a week of sweeps carried out in Somerset in April this year by the County Council's Education Attendance Officers, with support from Avon and Somerset Police, 118 children were stopped in the street or found at home and legal action was successfully taken against 14 parents.

A warning notice is initially sent to parents explaining the extent of the child’s absence and the possibility of a penalty notice being imposed for continued absence. For further absence, a penalty notice with a fine is then issued and failure to pay the penalty notice results in the Council being obliged to prosecute the parents or guardians for the offence of failing to ensure a child attends school regularly.

 


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