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Greenham mum fined for truant daughter

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Court hears how attendance dropped to less than 50 per cent

A Greenham mother has been fined for failing to make sure her daughter went to school.

Wendy Fox, aged 61, of Bodin Gardens, admitted failing to ensure the child regularly attended Park House School.

West Berkshire Magistrates’ Court heard on April 21 how the girl was a regular truant between September 4 and December 4, 2015, attending only 69 classes out of 161, with 76 unauthorised absences.

Prosecuting, Sarah Clarke from West Berkshire Council legal services, said: “Non-attendance at school for any reason is an important issue that must be treated seriously.

“Regular attendance is essential for social inclusion and pre-requisite to effective learning.”

She added: “There were a number of occasions where no reason was provided for the absence.

“The school contacted Ms Fox and Park House School held various meetings to help [the child] and her school attendance.

“There’s now a real concern about her level of education and the deputy headteacher states that her school work has been seriously affected by her attendance.

“Unless she attends school on a regular basis she will fail to achieve five [GCSE] A to C grades.”

Defending, Miss Sarah Neighbour, said: “[Fox] is a single mother, she is 61 years old, she receives her pension and also struggles with depression; she is on medication for that.

“She says on a typical day she will wake up [her daughter] and ask her to go to school and she will say she has a headache or bad cramps.

“She accepts that in the past she has given in far too easily.

“She went on to a parenting course which she says has helped her.

“She says that [the child] can be extremely stubborn.

“There has been almost all-out chaos in the family home as a result of these attempts to try to get her to go to school.

“She finds it incredibly difficult.

“She suffers from depression and has this battle with her daughter and she has had the threat of going to prison for this offence hanging over her head.

“Ms Fox is the first to accept there are times she should have put her foot down more but, for the sake of a hassle-free life, she didn’t.”

Accepting her guilty plea magistrates ordered Fox to pay a fine of £75, a Government surcharge of £20 and costs of £75, totalling £170.

A spokesperson for West Berkshire Council later said that the council was disappointed with the result.

Executive member for education, Dominic Boeck, said: “I echo the concerns raised by the school regarding this child’s future.

“In addition to the social and academic impact of failing to attend school, we have to consider potential safeguarding issues too.

“If a child is not attending school, where are they and who is ensuring that they are safe?

“It is clearly a pity for this particular child that the parenting order strategies had not been implemented during the summons period and for the majority of the period prior to the hearing.”

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