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Truants' parents in court

PUBLISHED: 08:55 18 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:27 03 July 2010

PARENTS have been warned they must send their children to school or face jail.

The stark message was issued by Norfolk County Council after a group of parents were convicted at Great Yarmouth magistrates court on Friday of failing to make sure their children attended classes.

PARENTS have been warned they must send their children to school or face jail.

The stark message was issued by Norfolk County Council after a group of parents were convicted at Great Yarmouth magistrates court on Friday of failing to make sure their children attended classes.

As part of a county-wide clamp down on truancy some of the parents were told they could face going to prison or a hefty fine for allowing their children to miss large chunks of their education.

In one case a pupil took 68 days off school last year and in another a mother took her child on a paper round instead of sending her to school.

Roger Fox, the County Hall officer who handles truancy court appearances, said: “Today's cases were some of the worse levels of attendance I have seen.”

Since the beginning of the school year 85 cases have come to court - almost equalling the 93 people who appeared before magistrates in the whole of the previous year.

The crackdown has been attributed to the creation of Mr Fox's role in September as Norfolk County Council children's services court officer.

Mr Fox, who prosecuted Friday's cases, said: “My position means there is now more clarity in the way we deal with truancy.”

In one case heard by the court, Harley Slack, the son of Nicola Ransom, was revealed to have had 68 unauthorised days off last year at Edward Worlledge Middle School, Great Yarmouth.

Mr Fox described how Harley had covered up his truancy by deceiving his mother, who would escort him firmly to the school gates everyday. He said: “The young so-and-so was intercepting and destroying letters.

“She would get a call from the school saying 'We have lost your son. He has disappeared. He was sent out of class for being naughty and has done a runner'.”

Ransom, of Manor Road, Gorleston and who had one previous conviction over her child's truancy, was told she may go to prison for her latest offence and will be sentenced on March 7.

The court issued warrants for serial offenders Gary Johnson and Natalie Baxter, of Chaucer Road, Yarmouth, after they had been found guilty in their absence for failing to send their children to school. It was the couple's sixth such offence.

This time Ebony and Kryan Baxter missed 258 days between them last year with only a very few of the occasions being registered as authorised absence.

Magistrates also heard that Gail Barrett, of Exmouth Road, Yarmouth, took her child on a paper round instead of sending them to school.

Barrett, who did not attend, was found guilty of two counts of allowing her two children to miss 204 days of school between them, and a warrant was also issued.

One parent, who can not be named for legal reasons, was given a 12 month conditional discharge after her daughter took more than 40 days off school.

Recently the council carried out truancy sweeps in Norwich and Yarmouth with officers finding a child out shopping for shoes and another had a splinter in their finger.

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