Suspended jail term for truant's mother
A SWANSEA mum whose child persistently failed to attend school has been given a suspended prison sentence by city magistrates.
Her's was the latest in a growing number of prosecutions brought by Swansea Council against parents of truant pupils.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure her child attended school, contrary to the 1996 Education Act.
Swansea Magistrates' Court was told the woman had two similar convictions.
She was given a six-week prison sentence - suspended for 12 months - and ordered to pay £165 costs.
Katie Miller, of Swansea Council's education welfare service, said: "In this case we have worked intensively over a five-year period to try to improve her children's attendance at school."
The council prosecuted parents of truant children 46 times in 2011/12 - the latest year for which figures were available - compared to 29 in 2010/11 and 12 in 2009/10.
Prosecution is seen as a last resort by the council, which stressed the vast majority of Swansea's 34,000 pupils made it to the classroom regularly.
Ms Miller said: "We work closely with schools and parents to do all we can to support children who are not attending school regularly.
"We aim to spot issues early so we can prevent a short period of truancy becoming a longer-term problem."
She added: "The council also stages discussions for parents and pupils to help them address any underlying problems that might be affecting a child's attendance."
Attendance at Swansea primary schools hit just over 93 per cent during 2011/12, a figure described as the best for years and higher than the Welsh average. The figure for secondary schools was 92 per cent.
Absenteeism rates are looked at by Estyn inspectors as part of their inspections of schools, while schools' attendance figures are required to be published as part of governors' annual reports to parents.
Swansea councillor Will Evans, cabinet member for education, said learning made all the difference to pupils' futures.
"If they are not in school they are not learning," he said.
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