Wigan mum appears in court to answer truanting charges

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

A grieving mother told magistrates how her daughter stopped attending school regularly after the sudden death of her partner.

Lyndsey Prescott, 34, was prosecuted by Wigan Council for the 14-year-old’s poor attendance at Hawkley Hall High School.

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard the child attended 36 of the 52 half-day sessions between May 8 and June 22, an attendance rate of 69.23 per cent.

A school attendance officer visited the family’s home on Prestt Grove, Worsley Mesnes, on May 8, but there was no response either at the door or to a slip left there.

At an attendance action meeting held on May 13, which Prescott did not attend due to illness, it was reported her daughter had met a 75 per cent attendance target and it was increased to 85 per cent.

The officer visited the family’s home again on June 4 when the child was absent from school, with Prescott explaining she was ill.

Medical evidence was required, but she said she could not provide it as she was not able to get a GP appointment.

After a meeting with the teenager and another unanswered visit to the family home, Prescott was invited to the school to be interviewed under caution, but did not attend.

She was informed she would be prosecuted for her daughter’s non-attendance, the court heard.

Prescott, who was not represented by a solicitor, pleaded guilty to being the parent of a child who failed to attend school regularly.

Speaking from the dock, she told magistrates: “She used to love school. She used to leave the house at seven o’clock in the morning, she was bright, clever and then it was due to my partner passing away on November 5, 2017.

“We were all grieving and my kids took it pretty badly as well.

“There was no reason, one day he was fine, the next day he was gone.

“She hated everything, she hated school, she hated life, she didn’t go out.

“She stayed in her bedroom. We tried getting her counsellors and stuff like that. School offered lots of help and she wouldn’t accept it.”

Prescott explained that some days her daughter went to school, while others she stayed in bed all day and said she did not feel well.

“She might have had a bit of depression, she might have had anxiety,” she said.

It was thought the death of Prescott’s partner could have been related to his heart and the teenager became concerned about her own heart.

She went to hospital and had tests, but it was thought to be anxiety, the court heard.

She said her daughter was now turning things around, attending school regularly over the past six weeks and going out with friends again.

“I know it’s taken a long time but she is getting there,” she said.

The council’s prosecutor was not able to confirm if the pupil was now attending regularly as she did not have up-to-date information.

Chairman of the bench Eric Rutter said: “It does look as though it’s been a bit of a blip through a tough time and hopefully that’s all been put behind you.

“I think it has to be said, from a local authority point of view, it’s disappointing not to have updated figures.”

Magistrates imposed a conditional discharge for six months and ordered Prescott to pay £100 prosecution costs and a £20 victim surcharge.