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Truancy mother angered by fine

Council confirms tough new stance

John Garvey

John Garvey


01635 886628

A MOTHER became abusive when told she would have to pay a fine for taking her child on holiday during term time, Newbury magistrates heard.

Kathy Anne Jury claimed that she was “living in poverty” and threatened to withold her child from John O’Gaunt School in Hungerford even more if she was fined, the court was told.

Ms Jury, aged 30, of Burtons Hill, Kintbury, did not attend the hearing on Thursday, June 18, and the case proceeded in her absence.

Laura Knowles, prosecuting on behalf of the education authority, West Berkshire Council, said the child had missed 16 half-day sessions and no permission for this had been either sought or given.

Both parents were therefore issued with a £60 fixed penalty notice (FPN).

The boy’s father paid his but Ms Jury did not, said Ms Knowles.

If the £60 remains unpaid after 22 days, the penalty doubles to £120, which was the sum Ms Jury owed, the court heard.

Ms Knowles said that Ms Jury had contacted an education welfare officer and added: “She said she was living in poverty and would have to keep her child away from school if she had to pay any fine because of the cost of school dinners.

“She was verbally abusive and aggressive throughout the call.”

Ms Jury was charged with failing to ensure her child’s regular attendance at John O’Gaunt School between October 8 and December 17 last year.

Magistrates found the case proved in her absence.

Ms Jury was fined £120 and ordered to pay £60 costs plus a statutory surcharge of £20.

In January, the council confirmed it had adopted a tough new stance on holiday truancy.

The number of West Berkshire parents prosecuted through the courts has risen sharply since 2011, with fines totalling £11,400 being imposed in the 12 months from September 2013.

The total amount for the preceding year was just £7,140 and £4,500 for the 12 months before that.

Education portfolio holder for West Berkshire Council, Irene Neill (Con, Aldermaston), confirmed that the council had adopted a tougher approach to parents who take children on holiday during term time to take advantage of cheaper breaks.

Speaking in January this year she said: “Generally, and although it’s down to individual headteachers, the council does feel that schools should be harder than they used to be over the last few years on removing children from class for holidays during term time.

“The stance has been toughened and it will continue to be like that.”

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