The parents of a secondary school pupil in Cornwall have been ordered to pay costs of £1,245 for failing to ensure their child attends school on a regular basis.

The parents from the Bodmin area were given a given a two year conditional discharge and after they pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to ensure their child attended regularly at Brannel Community School

The court was told that the year 11 pupil had 168 unauthorised absences out of a possible 176 sessions between November 5, 2013 and March 31, 2014. This meant he had attended just eight sessions (four full days) during this period.

As well as the £1,245 costs the parents were also each ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15 each.

John Heath, the council’s principal education welfare officer, said he hopes that the sentence will send a very clear message to other parents and carers who are failing to fulfil their legal duty to ensure that their children attend school regularly.

“Education Welfare Officers in Cornwall work closely with schools, parents and pupils to try to sort out attendance issues,” he said.

“This may involve arranging home and school visits to discuss the situation. They will try to find out the reasons why the child is not attending school and take steps to try and get the child back into school. This includes offering support or signposting to other agencies.

“Prosecution is a last resort when everything else has failed. Where parents are finally taken to court for school attendance offences they do run the risk of being fined or even sent to prison."