FIVE Hampshire parents have been taken to court for taking their children out of school without permission.

The parents were taken to magistrates court by Hampshire County Council after it was found that their children had been removed during term time.

Three of the defendants were found guilty under the single justice procedure when they appeared in Portsmouth Magistrates Courts on February 9, and have each been fined £440, a £44 victim surcharge and £100 costs. The remaining two defendants are set to appear at a full hearing on April 14.

The parents cannot be named for legal reasons as that would identify their child.

A council spokesperson said: “The Department for Education sets out a range of measures for Local Authorities to address school attendance, where appropriate.

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“We endeavour where possible to work proactively and constructively with families, and to offer a range of support where there are challenges with school attendance. Legal action is only considered as a very last resort after all other measures have been exhausted; where there is a history of persistent or repeated absence; or in the event of unpaid Penalty Notices for non-attendance. Any decision to follow this course of action is always taken extremely seriously and is made with the individual child’s best interests in mind.

“There is well-documented research which shows that gaps in school attendance can adversely impact a child’s learning and progress. We know that the reasons for persistent poor attendance are wide-ranging and complex, and we continue to work hard with schools and families to improve the situation and ensure that wherever possible, children get the best from their education.

“Department for Education guidance is followed in advising headteachers not to authorise absence in term time unless there are exceptional reasons to justify permitting the absence. Targeted support is given to schools in managing this issue and in sharing best practice.”