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Parents in court on truant charges

TWO parents have appeared in an Edinburgh court in rare prosecutions for allowing children to play truant.

A father who admitted repeatedly failing to send his son to school became one of the first people in Edinburgh to be convicted under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 for decades.

A 49-year-old mother denied a similar allegation but was found guilty of allowing her daughter to avoid school without reasonable excuse. She was fined £150.

Court sources said there had been no similar prosecutions in Edinburgh for about 20 years, although Glasgow City Council regularly uses the powers.

Neither parents, children nor the schools involved can be identified for legal reasons.

Edinburgh's Justice of the Peace Court heard the father allowed his son to miss lessons.

The boy only made it into class on 159 out of 335 days, prosecutor Matthew Clarke said.

Justice Ian Malcolm heard that at the time the boy – in third year at secondary school – had a "difficult" relationship with his father. Even though his father knew he wasn't going to school, he refused to reprimand him.

Defence solicitor Steven Donald said: "The relationship between him and his father was difficult as he got older."

He pled guilty to failing to ensure his son attended school between August 17, 2011, and June 29 last year.

The court heard that since last June the school had reported a major improvement in the teenager's behaviour.

Mr Malcolm said he had considered a fine but deferred sentence until June.

The court then heard allegations that a single mother had given up trying to get her 14-year-old daughter into class and stopped attending meetings with an education welfare officer.

Solicitor Sandra Walker, defending, said a welfare officer had suggested taking the girl's mobile phone away as "a sanction" but that was not realistic.

An attempt to do so had been met with "shouting and screeching" and the mother had to consider other members of the family and neighbours who were upset by the noise of rows.

The court heard the girl was bigger than her mother, who did not dispute her daughter attended school on only 157 days out of a possible 366 during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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