Over 1,100 Wiltshire parents prosecuted for truancy

School truancy (RADAR)

Published by Ellie Harries at 6:02am 16th February 2019.

In the past five years, 818 were found guilty for their children's unauthorised school absences.

From 2012 to 2017, councils covered by Wiltshire Police took 1,102 parents to court.

74% of those were found guilty of truancy and almost two thirds of prosecutions in Wiltshire were against women.

When in court, fines were issued in 103 cases according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

However, the Dr Mary Bousted from The National Education Union said fines were counterproductive, and that there was no easy fix for truancy

"One thing that is certainly needed, to ensure pupils are in school and engaged in learning, is a dialogue between the school and parents or carer.

"Fines invariably have the complete opposite effect, creating unnecessary tensions between schools and families."

NATIONALLY

It's all part of a government crackdown on unauthorised school absences, with prosecutions for truancy across England and Wales reaching 18,377 during 2017.

School kid
In the past five years, 818 were found guilty for their children's unauthorised school absences in Wiltshire.

That's 6,600 more than during 2013 - with parents being hit with more than 11,700 fines.

In total, 83,790 prosecutions were undertaken between 2013 and 2017 and 50,180 fines handed out.

A Department for Education spokesman said:

"Evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances.

"We are clear that pupils can only take term-time leave in exceptional circumstances, and where this leave has been authorised by the headteacher."

Headteachers and councils can also issue on-the-spot fines to parents for unauthorised absences instead of taking them to court, but may prosecute if the fine is not paid.

Around 400,000 such fines were issued in England and Wales between 2014-15 and 2016-2017.

MOTHERS FOUND GUILTY

Women were also more likely to be found guilty across the country - 68% of those prosecuted were convicted, compared to 67% of men prosecuted.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of women's rights charity Fawcett Society, said it was concerning to see mothers penalised more often than fathers, adding that society was "too quick to judge mothers".

Both parents have a legal obligation to ensure children attend school regularly, regardless of whether they are separated.

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