A parent has voiced anger at being ordered to pay more than £300 almost three years after her son missed time from school. The Cardiff secondary pupil, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had stayed home because he was threatened with knives by other boys, said the mum.
Her son had missed around half of school days over a two-month period in 2019, Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard last Thursday. Prosecutor Amanda Jones said the boy was 13 at the time and is now weeks from finishing his final year. A warrant was issued for the mum’s arrest in 2020 but it was only carried out two weeks ago, she added.
“A final warning notice was served,” said Ms Jones. “However, no adequate explanation was provided for the absence. The attendance officer has attempted to engage with [the mum] with little success. Various meetings were arranged at the school and she failed to attend any of them.”
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The charge — proven in the mum’s absence at an earlier hearing — only covered dates in 2019, though Ms Jones said attendance issues have continued recently. But the mum claimed her son’s attendance has improved. Representing herself, she told the magistrates that in 2019 the boy was being harassed by boys with knives. “He suffers with anxiety and he’s been bullied since Year 7,” she said.
She added that her son has benefited from the support of an “amazing” teacher. “He has gone from right down and struggling to such an improvement, it is amazing. He is more confident. He’s going on to a college.”
Presiding Justice Elaine Farthing ordered the parent to pay £302. Following the hearing the mum expressed her frustration in an interview with WalesOnline: “I tried to explain it in there. The problem wasn’t just in school. It was outside. At one point police were taking my son to school to make sure he was getting there safely.”
Although the abuse mostly came in the form of threats, they became physical on a couple of occasions and her son was beaten up, she said. “He didn’t feel safe going to school. What they said about me not going to appointments, I don’t know where they got that from. Numerous times I’ve been into the school.”
The mum claimed the school’s attendance record was inaccurate because her son sometimes starts the day in pastoral care for anxiety support — meaning his presence is not always logged in his class’ morning register. She added: “Getting arrested the other week was the first inkling I had of this case. We have moved so far now — to have to deal with this is just setting us back.”
The magistrates imposed a £120 fine, £150 in prosecution costs and a £32 victim services surcharge. You can read more court stories here.