Mother of Harrow schoolgirl gets “tagged” and a criminal record… for keeping daughter off school

A mother who kept her child off school for an entire year, without any permission or authorisation, has been given a curfew order, an electronic tag, community service, a fine… and a criminal record.

Harrow Council took the woman to court after she not only refused to send her child to school, but also turned down all offers of help from the authorities. The judge at Willesden Magistrates’ Court was unimpressed with her defence and ruled that her offence was one of the most severe of its kind.

Cllr Christine Robson, Harrow Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said:

“We take no pleasure in fining parents, or taking them to court, but we have a duty to make sure that children receive an education.

“I trust that the severity of this punishment will make it clear to that small minority of parents that they cannot just keep their child out of school, simply because they want to.

“Every child deserves a high quality education and the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills that will help them into adulthood.”

The woman’s identity has been withheld to protect the child.

Parents of a child who is absent, without authorisation from the school, commonly face a fine of £120 called an Education Penalty Notice. Multiple offenders, however, can face far more severe penalties, as this case demonstrates.

The court ruled that the woman’s offence was “category 1”, meaning the most severe of its kind, with higher culpability and higher harm. As a result, the judge handed down a sentence of a 12-month community order; 10 days rehabilitation activity requirement; 19 days electronic curfew of 9am to 5pm; and a £500 fine (with an £85 surcharge).