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Parent of truant could face jail

PUBLISHED: 10:15 10 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:35 03 July 2010

THE parent of a "wilful and devious" truant child was told she faces jail if her son fails to attend his Great Yarmouth school again.

Nicola Ransom was given the stark warning after she was handed a suspended prison sentence because her 12-year-old son Harley Slack missed 68 school attendance periods out of 162 from last September to January.

THE parent of a “wilful and devious” truant child was told she faces jail if her son fails to attend his Great Yarmouth school again.

Nicola Ransom was given the stark warning after she was handed a suspended prison sentence because her 12-year-old son Harley Slack missed 68 school attendance periods out of 162 from last September to January.

Each period relates to half day at school.

On Friday Yarmouth magistrates court heard Ransom was suffering a nightmare over Harley's long term truancy and resorted to dragging him to Edward Worlledge Middle School in an effort to stop him bunking off.

He had intercepted and destroyed letters sent to his mother by truancy officers at Norfolk County Council and when the school arranged for him to be picked up he jumped out of a window to escape.

Ransom, 39 of Manor Road, Gorleston, was given a eight week prison sentence, suspended for nine months, and was ordered to carry out 60 hours unpaid work after she admitted failing to secure her son's attendance at school.

After the case Roger Fox, the county hall officer who handles truancy court cases, said: “I think this case has shown that the courts do take truancy very seriously and that prison remains a clear option for high levels of non attendance.”

Last year Ransom was given an 18-month conditional discharge after she admitted failing to send her son to school.

He had been playing truant for at least a year and a half.

Chris Bowles, mitigating for Ransom, said: “For my client this has been an absolute nightmare.

“The devious wilful child recognised letters that were being sent by the school and intercepted and destroyed them.

“She is sorry she presents herself in this situation today. She does not accept she is an uncaring parent but she desperately needs some help in resolving this problem.”

The court heard that Harley was now attending school on some mornings as part of a reintegration programme but he had already missed 11 periods of attendance since February 15.

Since the start of the school year 85 truancy cases have come to court but the council is keen to point out that it has a while raft of measures, such as parent support advisors and the fast track to attendance scheme, to try and get errant pupils back to school.

Val Creasy, attendance and exclusions manager, said: “Sadly there are isolated cases where legal proceedings are needed to help children receive the education they are entitled to.”

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