A mum from the Isle of Axholme has been locked up for persistently failing to send her child to school.
Magistrates took the exceptionally rare measure of jailing Hermione Meadows after she pleaded guilty to the offence in a case which an education watchdog has described as ‘tragic.’
Meadows was given an 11-week sentence after she admitted her child – who is of primary school age – had been a regular truant between January 1 and March 28.
On November 28 last year, Meadows had been given a suspended sentence for the same offence but was told because she had re-offended within such a short period she would now be sent to prison.
The 45-year-old of Mariners Arms, Keadby, was jailed at North Lincolsnhire Magistrates’ Court because the offence was ‘so serious’ and she had failed to comply with previous orders.
Speaking after the sentencing, a spokesman for North Lincolnshire Council said: “North Lincolnshire Council has a legal duty to ensure all pupils of compulsory school age are in receipt of suitable education, and parents have a legal duty to ensure the regular attendance of their child.
“Research shows the impact absence has on attainment – the more time lost to schooling, the greater the impact on educational attainment.
“We try everything possible working with other agencies and parents to encourage children to go to school.
“This includes undertaking regular truancy sweeps to identify those not at school, issuing parenting orders and penalty notices, home visits, attendance audits and parenting programmes and pastoral support to offer advice to families.
“Only when this fails, do we take further action.”
Chris McGovern is chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, which aims to raise standards and improve choice in state education.
“Children need to be in school and parents need to make sure they go,” he said. “The law should be upheld and each case must be dealt with on its own merits.
“It’s a reflection of how education is viewed in Britain – it is not valued enough in this country.
“This seems to be a very exceptional case. Having a parent put in jail is not very good for the child and I think this must be incredibly serious - it’s a tragic situation.”
Mr McGovern, a former headteacher, said a council, in its role as local education authority, always had support in place for parents who were struggling with their child’s school attendance.
“If you don’t help the child now, you’ve got a problem forever,” he said.
“Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this case is that it will be taken seriously by other parents.”