More than 150 Wiltshire parents were pursued in the courts during the last academic year for their children’s lack of school attendance.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Wiltshire Council carried out 161 prosecutions in 2022/23, which is the highest number in the last five years.

Rates of school attendance in the county remain lower than pre-pandemic levels, with thousands of Wiltshire children recorded as “persistently absent.”

Local authorities are responsible for supporting such pupils, and, as a last resort, enforcing attendance through legal intervention.

This is because unauthorised absence from school is a strict liability offence and the consideration for legal intervention threshold is 10 sessions of unauthorised absence.

Wiltshire Council is unable to indicate the total cost of last year’s legal prosecutions, but it is likely to be far greater than the cost for the academic year prior to the first Covid-19 lockdown, when the council only recorded 43 prosecutions.

This number had risen to 142 by 2020/21 and 106 in 2021/22.

Earlier this year, the Department for Education announced school absence fines would be increasing from £60 - £120 to £80 - £160.

This came after nearly 400,000 penalty notices were issued to parents across England in 2022/23 for unauthorised school absences.