Council defends prison sentence for mother of truants

Oxfordshire council has defended a court’s decision to send a
mother to prison for the persistent truancy of her two teenage
daughters, writes Katie Leason.

Patricia Amos was sentenced to 60 days by Banbury magistrates
after pleading guilty at a previous hearing to an offence under
section 444 1 (a) of the Education Act 1996. It is the first
sentence of its kind imposed in Oxfordshire and the UK.

Section 444 1 (a) applies where a parent knows that a child is
absent from school and carries a maximum penalty of £2,500 per
child and or 3 months’ imprisonment.

In this case various strategies had been tried over time
including a parenting order under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
However efforts to ensure the girls fully attended school were not

Roy Smith, acting chief education officer at Oxfordshire council
said the council has a duty to see that young people receive the
education to which they are entitled.

“Among many other things this means that we must do all we can
to ensure regular attendance,” he said. “Where attendance becomes
an issue we are usually able to deal very effectively with it in an
informal way. In a minority of cases more significant action is
required and it is, regrettably, necessary to move beyond the
strategies available within the LEA, and turn to the courts for
their involvement.”

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