318 parents prosecuted for child truancy in one county alone
More than 300 parents in the county of Essex have faced court hearings over their children's truancy.
The shock figures were released by Essex County Council under a Freedom of Information request.
The Chelmsford Weekly News reveals Essex County Council has prosecuted 318 parents and guardians of persistent truants since September 2007, with one parent being sent to jail for three months.
Some of the action was taken against the mums and dads of children as young as five and six, whilst most cases were against those with youngsters in Year 10.
Local councils have the powers to issue a £50 fixed penalty notice if children have unauthorised absence from school. This increases to £100 if not paid within 28 days, with a court summons being issued after 42 days.
Stephen Castle, Essex county councillor for education, told the Chelmsford Weekly News: 'It is necessary in some cases to issue penalty notices or instigate prosecution of the parents.
'We also apply for education supervision orders from the family courts, if it is believed this will impact positively on attendance levels.'
A report last year found truancy to be a countrywide problem, with more than 63,00 primary and secondary school children being absent from school on typical days in the autumn and spring terms of 2009/10. More than 4,000 of these were five-year-olds.
Is this the right way to deal with persistent truants and their parents?
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Kids as young as five playing truant