Mum sent to jail for 12 weeks for not ensuring daughter attended school
A NEGLECTFUL mum was given the longest jail term possible after failing to send her child to school, the Advertiser can reveal.
The parent was locked up for 12 weeks – the harshest sentence available – after being convicted for not ensuring her daughter's attendance at school.
It was the third time the mum had been hauled before the courts for failing in her duty to provide an education for the youngster.
The punishment came after Croydon Council had spent four years trying to work with the family to ensure the pupil went to school regularly.
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But the parent failed to keep to her duty and magistrates took the option of jailing her as punishment.
The mum was one of 469 parents who were prosecuted by the council over the last three years for not sending their children to school, statistics obtained by the Advertiser reveal.
Dad Nick Barber, from Addiscombe, undertook a four-month battle to get his daughter Chelsea into a school of his choice after becoming determined to secure her a good education.
He believes parents who fail to send their children to school are "irresponsible" and says the council is right to take action against them.
"They're robbing their child of an education," he said.
"They deserve to be prosecuted. Every child needs an education and it is parents' responsibility to make sure this happens.
"I wouldn't say jail is always the answer. The parents have to be educated about what they're doing and why it is wrong."
The Education Welfare Service (EWS) has the power to bring parents before the courts for failing in their duty to provide an education for their youngsters.
But the council maintains it aims to work with parents where their children's attendance levels are below 80 per cent before taking legal action.
A total of 22 offending parents were given parenting orders by the courts which required them to attend education or support classes to address their issues.
A further 771 were handed penalty notices which are given as an early intervention to help avoid prosecutions. Figures show Croydon's truancy rate in secondary schools has reduced from 6.2 per cent in 2008-09 to 4.3 per cent in the 2009-10 school year.
A spokesman for Croydon Council said: "We are working closely with schools, the education welfare service and other agencies to continue to improve school attendance in Croydon.
"Parents are always given support and guidance on any difficulties they may be experiencing in the first instance, with legal measures only being used as a last resort."