Truants’ parents hit by £22,000 in fines

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MORE than 400 fines have been dished out to parents of Doncaster schoolchildren who have missed lessons during the current school year, it has been revealed.

Since the current academic year started in September, truancy officers at Doncaster Council have served 441 fixed penalty notices.

The figure, worth £22,050 in total, is three and a half times higher than the previous year. The figures has been announced with just over two weeks still to go this term before the summer holidays.

The council’s Education Welfare Service carried out its latest crackdown in the borough at the end of June, when its patrols returned five children to school and another to his mother.

A total of 99 children were stopped on the day.

Of those, 56 of these were accompanied by an adult and 43 were unaccompanied.

The parents of children stopped will receive a legal warning letter advising them they will be issued with a fixed penalty notice if there is any further absence from school.

In the first instance of truancy, parents receive a letter, which warns that unless the child attends all lessons at school for the next 15 days, a fixed penalty fine will be issued.

Of the 441 fines issued for truancy since September, 98 were not paid despite several opportunities and the parents had to be taken to court.

This was a rise on last year where 120 fines were issued and 50 cases ended up in court.

Coun Eric Tatton-Kelly, Doncaster Council’s cabinet member for the children and young people’s service, said: “Parents have a responsibility to make sure their children get to school without fail.

“The numbers indicate the seriousness of the problem, we cannot let this continue.

“This latest action follows a borough-wide crackdown in January, where officers visited the homes of truant school children to discuss attendance with parents.

“This issue is so important and the rise in fixed penalty notices is due to us changing the way we work to be more efficient in tackling the problem.

“Getting an education is vital so that young people get the very best start in life possible, and I don’t want to see any child in Doncaster slipping through the net.”

Fixed penalty fines for truancy carry a £50 penalty per parent, per child. It rises if parents refuse to pay and the matter goes to court.