Hartlepool mum spared jail over children’s school attendance

The case was heard at Teesside Magistrates' Court.
The case was heard at Teesside Magistrates' Court.

A mother narrowly avoided going to prison for failing to send two of her children to school.

Sarah Metcalfe breached a suspended sentence for not sending an older child to school when her younger son and daughter also failed to meet attendance targets, Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard.

Tony Mcnab, prosecuting on behalf of Hartlepool Borough Council, said various action plans had been tried in respect of both children.

“An attendance target of 90 percent was set in both cases,” said Mr Mcnab. “This wasn’t met over a period of time.

“The most recent record for the 12-year-old girl in the case was 67 percent attendance, and for the 14-year -old boy it was 47 percent.

“Mrs Metcalfe has three previous convictions for the same offence in respect of an older son who is now 17.”

Metcalfe, 36, of West View Road, Hartlepool, admitted two offences of failing to ensure a child attends school between September last year ,and March of this year.

She admitted being in breach of a four-week suspended sentence imposed for the same offence.

The court heard her son is a pupil of the Hartlepool Pupil Referral Unit, and her daughter, who has mild cerebral palsy, is a pupil of St Hild’s school in Hartlepool.

Magistrates were told that sending the mum to prison would nnot solve the problem.

The court’s liaison probation officer told the bench: “Mrs Metcalfe strikes me as a worn out and tired mum.

“The family is in a vicious circle with copycat behaviour of the older child.

“Parents become ground down, and give up.

“Mrs Metcalfe is now a lone parent, her husband having left a few months ago.

“She has no alcohol, drugs, or mental health issues.

“She is a lone parent in need of support.”

John Relton, defending, said he agreed with the probation officer.

Mr Relton added: “These are complicated matters which cannot be solved by sending mum to prison.

“The children need to take some responsibility.

“I wonder if these prosecutions should be dealt with in the Youth Court with the child present, away from the public’s prying eye.”

The bench sentenced Metcalfe to a community order of 12 months, including 20 days of rehabilitation activity.

She was fined £25 for breaching the suspended sentence, and ordered to pay £85 costs.