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Chessington mother given record fine after her children missed school for more than six months
A Chessington mum has been fined £800 after two of her children failed to turn up to school for more than six months.
Hollyfield School, which is an Ofsted rated ‘good’ school, took the mother to court because it felt it had “exhausted all of its actions”.
The total penalty of £1,240 including costs and surcharges is the highest fine yet in any truancy case in Kingston. The largest amount any parent can be fined for one offence is £1,000.
Darren Bonehill, Hollyfield assistant headteacher, said: “The reason the school decided to prosecute the family for non attendance was because it felt it had exhausted all of its actions to try and get the mother to cooperate and send her children to school.
“This involved letters, meetings, contacts and on all occasions the mother broke the agreements. “The school felt it had to take this action because it has a legal obligation to ensure all pupils attend school unless parents could explain why this was not possible.”
One child was persistently absent from the school in Surbiton Hill Road between April 15 to October 18 last year.
The other child also repeatedly failed to turn up to the academy between April 15 and November 22.
The fine was handed out in the absence of the mother who failed to show up to the hearing at Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court on February 11 for two counts of truancy.
Mr Bonehill said since the prosecution one child had started to come in but the other remained absent despite a warning that the mother could face the courts again.
This has been the first successful prosecution for the co-educational school in Surbiton which has more than 1,000 pupils.
The coalition Government made it an offence for parents to allow their children to play truant with fines generally fixed at £60 to be paid within 21 days, or face this doubling within 28 days.
Councillor David Ryder-Mills, lead member for schools and continuing education, said: “Prosecuting parents or carers is a last resort, and happens only after a lot of work by the school and other professionals to try to help the family and enable the children to join their friends at school.
“If despite all our efforts we get no cooperation then we have no choice but to go to court. It is up to the courts to decide the level of punishment."
The woman declined to comment.
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