Teen's truancy leads to £420 bill for Torpoint mum
A TORPOINT mother was ordered to pay £420 after failing to ensure that her teenager went to school regularly.
The 38-year-old unemployed mother of one, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that her child went to school when she appeared at Truro Magistrates' Court on Friday.
The court heard that her son was absent for 66 out of a possible 176 days from June 3 to November 26, 2013 – a 49.4 per cent attendance rate.
Representing herself in court, his mother said: "My child found the last year very hard. Nothing at home has happened to change him. He woke up one day and decided that he didn't want to go to school.
"There was the issue of sporadic bullying and his attendance is sporadic."
His mother said that she has started a parenting class, which she has found very helpful, allowing her to share ideas with other parents.
His school is just over a mile from their home, however from November 26, 2013, to January 17, 2014, he missed 32 out of a possible 56 days from school. From February 2013 his attendance began to slip and meetings between teachers and the mother did not resolve the problem.
Karen Tambling, for the prosecution, said: "The defendant contacted the school saying that he was refusing to go to school. The education welfare officer attended their home and he was refusing to go to school."
In May a Cornwall Council education welfare officer attended a meeting with the teenager and his mother.
Mrs Tambling said: "At the meeting he said he didn't need any qualifications and he didn't need to learn anything. This gave a new reason for his non-attendance and it was suggested to the defendant that she get in contact with the GP child mental health service and the youth service."
He was allocated a youth worker in July after his continued absences and his mother stated in court that she has booked an appointment for her son to see a GP on February 11.
At another meeting in September, the teenager agreed to attend school each day and was made aware of the consequences, the court was told.
He started to attend school again but refused to go when only his mother was at home without her partner there, the court heard.
The mother was fined £100, a £20 victim surcharge and £300 in court costs.
The council's principal education welfare officer, John Heath, said after the hearing that he hoped the sentence would send a clear message to other parents and carers.
Mr Heath said: "It is crucial that we engage parents in ensuring their children go to school. As a local authority we are committed to raising attendance and tackling truancy. Education welfare officers in Cornwall work closely with schools, parents and pupils to try to sort out attendance issues. Prosecution is a last resort when everything else has failed."