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Take your child out of school again and face jail, Cambridgeshire parents told

The parents of a Cambridgeshire pupil have been threatened with jail over unauthorised school absences Credit: Press Association

The parents of a school pupil in Cambridgeshire have been given a four-week suspended prison sentence after taking their child away during term for a third time.

The pair, who have not been named by the council, had previously received fines from the county council on two separate occasions but did not pay up.

That led to a court summons and fines totalling £440 for the first offence and £1752 for the second.

After taking their child out of school for a third time, the parents - who live near Ely - had to attend another hearing where magistrates gave them the suspended sentence.

They must also work with the probation service over the next 12 months and pay court costs of £165 each.

The magistrates warned them they risked having the sentence activated and serving jail time if they went on another term-time break with their child.

"The local authority firmly believes that, for pupils to progress and achieve their full potential, they need to have a good level of school attendance.

"Regular school attendance gives your child the best possible start in life from the time they start in reception. Children who frequently miss school are far more likely to fall behind with their work across the curriculum, and thus fail to reach their true potential."

– Jonathan Lewis, Service Director for Education, Cambridgeshire County Council

Children are considered "persistently absent" from school once their attendance drops below 90%.

In Cambridgeshire, there were 3,201 primary school pupils and 3,217 secondary students who fell into that category.

As a result, schools across the county have adopted strict approaches to absence, referring families to the local authority if it fails to improve.