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Truancy cases at Yarmouth

PUBLISHED: 09:38 08 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:35 30 June 2010

A truant child hiding letters from school, a boy laughing at his parent as she faces jail and a mother neglecting her child's education because of a family tragedy.

A truant child hiding letters from school, a boy laughing at his parent as she faces jail and a mother neglecting her child's education because of a family tragedy.

These are some of the stiff challenges faced by education officials trying to clamp down on prolificly truant Great Yarmouth pupils, magistrates were told yesterday.

As part of a Norfolk County Council high-profile anti-truancy drive in the Yarmouth area, the parents of three children were hauled before the town's magistrates yesterday.

Linda Draycott 57, of St Mary's Road, Hemsby, was given a two-year conditional discharge after she admitted knowingly failing to send her 14-year-old son Ryan to Flegg High School in Martham.

Roger Fox, prosecuting, said that Ryan had only attended 31.6pc of lessons between April 20 and November 6.

The court heard that Ryan had missed school because his mother had taken him to London after his grandfather had a stroke. She had wanted to be close to her ill father, who died in November from pneumonia.

Anne Marie Sheridan, represent-ing Draycott, said that since the death Ryan's attendance had “improved greatly” and that his mother realised his education was important.

The parent of 16-year-old Ian Boylan was fined £150 after she admitted he had played truant from the Brooklands pupil referral unit in Gorleston. He missed 53 out of 116 half-day sessions between September and December.

Magistrates heard that Sharon Boylan, 35, and her partner Julio Custudio, 39, both of Ives Way Hopton, were literally tearing their hair out as Ian skipped school. Annette Hall, representing the couple, said: “He (Ryan) seems to find it highly amusing. He says 'Nothing's going to happen to me, is it?' He is not the one who is in court, facing jail. It is the parents.”

Miss Hall said Boylan had no problems of truancy from her four other children.

Custudio was fined £100 over Ian's truancy.

The full details about Ian and Ryan's truancy can be published after an application by defence solicitors to withhold their names from being used was successfully challenged.

In the last case of the day, the details of a high school girl who missed 74pc of lessons because she was teased over her severe medical condition were not allowed to be published.

Her mother was fined £150 after admitting her child's truancy.

Magistrates heard the girl had even hidden letters from the school and education officials about her skipping class.

Heather Little, mitigating, said: “She (the mother) will actively seek to get to the post first because she cannot trust her daughter.”

Yesterday's court appearances come in the wake of the 435 separate interventions by educa-tion officials to try to improve attendance in Yarmouth.

Intervention measures include written warnings, fines, prosecu-tions and parenting contracts.

Shelagh Hutson, county council cabinet member for children's services said: “These prosecutions send out a strong message to par-ents that persistent and unauth-orised absences are harmful to their children's education and future and will not be tolerated.”

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