Legal action was taken by Wiltshire Council against the parents of a 10-year-old child who failed to attend regularly at his school in the Salisbury area.

The case was heard at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court on January 18 this year after the child missed too much school between April and June 2021. 

The parents of the child were charged under section 444(1) and 8 of the Education Act 1996.

Section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996 states: "If a child of compulsory school age who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school, his parent is guilty of an offence."

The parents were given a £220 fine each and must also pay a surcharge of £34 to fund victim services and additional costs of £180. 

The total each parent must pay by February 15 is £434. 

Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills Cllr Laura Mayes said: “Regular attendance is a legal requirement for children and young people who are enrolled at a school, and is essential in order for them to reach their full potential and have the best opportunities as they become adults. 

"The Education Act 1996 places a duty on parents to ensure that their children receive suitable education."

Cllr Mayes said that Wiltshire schools support and encourage good attendance by working closely with young people and families as well as professionals but may need to take legal measures in some cases.

“As the local authority, we are committed to supporting the attendance of children and young people at schools across our county," she added. 

"Sometimes, however, we may need to take legal measures to improve the attendance of children at school, such as issuing penalty notices and prosecution.

"These steps are always taken as a last resort and only after parents have been warned that a penalty notice or court proceedings may be an outcome.”

The verdict was found through Single Justice Procedure, where a single magistrate judges the case on the basis of the papers alone without either party having to attend court for a hearing. 

Details that may identify the child have been omitted for legal and ethical reasons. 

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