Parents of absentee children taken to court

'Get A Grip' - East Sussex County Council school attendance campaignSIXTEEN parents of children in East Sussex have been taken to court for failing to ensure their children regularly attend school.

The prosecutions came during the first month of a hard-hitting East Sussex County Council campaign urging parents to ‘get a grip’ and ensure their child attends school every day.

In total, the parents were hit with £2,370 in fines and £3,300 in court costs after failing to pay fixed penalty notices for their child’s poor attendance.

The campaign, featuring slogans such as ‘Don’t Be a Mug’ and ‘Get a Grip’, is running throughout the current school year and features on bus stops, social media and radio adverts.

Cllr Bob Standley, county council lead member for education and inclusion, said: “We appreciate that this campaign has been controversial in some quarters but we won’t flinch from addressing this issue.

“Attendance levels in East Sussex are simply not good enough and every day of school missed adversely affects children’s education and harms their long-term prospects of success.

“These prosecutions should act as a reminder to parents of how seriously we take this matter and how we won’t hesitate to take action – through the courts if necessary – to ensure our children get the best chance of a good education.”

One parent, from Hastings, was handed an 18-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £985 costs for failing to pay a fixed penalty notice after taking their two children on holiday in term time.

Another Hastings parent was given a 12-month community order and ordered to pay £150 in costs for their child’s continued poor attendance.

Two of the parents prosecuted were from Eastbourne while the rest were from Hastings and Rother.

Parents concerned about their child are encouraged to speak to school staff, who may be able to help them improve their attendance.

Absence in term time can only and must be authorised by the head teacher and anyone taking their child out of school without permission can expect to receive a £60 penalty notice – or court action if they fail to pay.