A mum whose son was absent from school for nearly two years after getting out of the habit of attending lessons during Covid has been fined more than £1,000. Her son, who has just turned 16, will officially leave school at the end of this term without sitting any exams or getting any qualifications.

The single mum, who we are not naming for legal reasons, says the penalty is unfair and will leave her without enough money for her family. She was fined £1,074 which she said she has been given a year to pay off at around £100 a month. But the mother of two said she had done all she could to persuade her son to go to school, and she could not physically force him to go.

“He got out of the habit of going to school around two years ago during the Covid lockdowns. He would scream at me if I told him to get out of bed and I can’t physically drag him to school, he is bigger than me,” the 37 year-old said. Thousands of fines have been issued to parents across Wales for not sending their children to school and you can read more about that here

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The case comes as hundreds of parents around Wales have been issued with fixed penalty fines, or prosecuted, for not sending their children to school. Fines for non attendance were halted by the Welsh Government during classroom closures in the pandemic but were reinstated to tackle the growing absence problem since.

Some teachers and teaching unions are opposed to fining parents and guardians for not getting their children to school saying it doesn’t ensure they get to lessons and simply adds to tensions. Instead they say there should be more funding for support staff and interventions to encourage children back to school.

The mother insisted she had engaged with her son’s school when he stopped attending in around the start of year 10 when he was 14. She said she had also kept in touch with the school attendance officer, who visited them at home and also tried to persuade her son to stop bunking off.

“His school was supportive and I was in contact. But my son was not engaging with anything. The school attendance officer told me by letter I would be prosecuted if he did not go to school. When I told him he just said: “but why?”.

“It’s not fair that I am getting punished when I do want him to get an education. I can’t force him.”

The mum said her son was eventually offered two hours a week tuition with the local youth service, outside school. But the teenager had also stopped attending that and just wanted to stay at home.

The boy had become withdrawn and got out of the habit of going to lessons when they went online during the pandemic, she said. Her son, who has now turned 16 and should be in GCSE year 11, will officially leave school at the end of this term won't get any qualifications when he leaves school, which made her sad, she said.

“I would prefer him to be at school but I couldn’t force him to go. He would tell me “no” and shut the door.

“He would scream at me. I can’t physically make him go to school.

“I don’t know how I am going to pay the fine. I have got until March 2025 to pay it but I am on benefits.

“Fining me won’t help him now anyway because he is leaving school. But paying £100 a week will affect out living standards.”

She is also worried about the effect on her younger son, who goes to school every day. The mother, who started training as a hairdresser, hopes to go back and continue that training, but said the court case and fine has taken a toll.

“Fining people for not sending their children to school doesn’t work. I don’t see the logic of what it makes better and think it’s disgusting.

“I am now worried not only about my son, who I would have preferred went to school, but also now about paying the fine.

“My income is only £900 a month on benefits and that will go down when he legally leaves school, so paying £100 a month to pay the £1,000 fine will have an effect - I think I’ll have about £600 for food and bills for the three of us.”

The mother said she had gone to school as normal, leaving after GCSEs. She then went on to have her two sons with a now absent father.