A MUM has been told she faces fines if her son is continually late or absent from school.

Southend Council is working in partnership with the borough’s schools in its crackdown on absence, called the “late gate patrol”.

The mum, who does not want to be named, says she was met by a council employee and teacher at Hamstel Infant School.

She said: “Over the past week there has been a council employee quizzing people on why they are late.

“We turned up late and he started telling me people can be fined.

“I’m disgusted. It’s a money making scheme and sometimes I can’t help being late.

“Mornings get quite hectic, I could get up at 4.30am but still be late because right before we leave one of the kids will need the toilet or will need a nappy changed “The council employee was also insulting as I asked if he had ever had to dress and get his kids ready in the morning every day on his own, to which he said yes and also stated they didn’t have tantrums because they were raised properly.

“I was given no warning, no letter sent home or anything, which I also feel is disgusting.”

The late gate patrols have targeted schools across the borough for a number of years and the council has not received any formal complaints about the scheme.

The patrols are usually run for one week with officers from the council and teachers challenging any lateness after the start of school and explaining the importance of arriving at school on time.

Anne Jones, Southend’s councillor for children and learning, said: “The officer will remind parents about the legal implications and legal powers available to the council to ensure regular and punctual school attendance and tackle persistent lateness and absenteeism.

“This can include the issuing a fixed penalty notice. We do not want to be prosecuting parents, and it is always an absolutely last resort to do this. But we also want children to be in school and there comes a time where we have no further options.

“Starting legal action is not a decision we ever take lightly, but it is a decision we will make if it is in the best interests of the child and those parents refuse to work with the school and us to resolve the issues.”

“Fixed penalty notices are rarely issued for lateness alone and would never be issued for one day’s lateness or where a child was late with good reason for example, but they can be issued for persistent lateness once the register is closed.”

HAMSTEL Infant School says it works hard to support parents who are struggling to get their child to school on time.

Headteacher Lisa Clark said: “We have operated a late gate system this week as a supportive measure for parents and carers who at times have been late in bringing their children to school.

“As an infant school we are reliant upon parents and carers bringing their child to school due to their young age. It is important for children to arrive at school punctually to gain the most from their learning.

“We do understand at times there are challenges which face parents and carers in being able to achieve this but we work closely to support any parent who has difficulties in bring their child to school on time.

“As a school we have found the support of the Local Authority in operating the late gate system worthwhile and many parents have appreciated the time given to speak with them.”