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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Truancy mother: 'Prison woke me up'
Patricia Amos leaves court after winning her appeal
Patricia Amos was jailed for her children's truancy
The mother who was sent to jail for failing to curb her children's truancy says she deserved to be imprisoned and that she and her daughters will benefit from the experience.

In an interview for BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Patricia Amos said being sent to prison had made her realise she was a parent with responsibilities.

Mrs Amos - who was originally sentenced to 60 days - is now out of prison after her sentence was reduced on appeal last week.

Her remarks were welcomed by Education Secretary Estelle Morris who told Today she believed the case had served as a "clear message" to other parents.

In the interview, Mrs Amos admitted she suspected her teenage daughters were not turning up for school but was not thinking straight because her world had been "turned upside down" after the death of her mother.

'The system's worked'

"I caused my own problems - I suffered and my children suffered for it," said Mrs Amos.

"I know for a fact that something good has come out of something bad. The system's worked for me - I'll be everywhere I'm meant to be.

"I'm going to go out of my way to ensure they [Emma and Jackie] are there [in school].

"I'll put them in a taxi and I'll phone the school to make sure."

Mrs Amos said her time in prison had not been pleasant, but had taught her a lesson.

'Horrible'

"There's no way I want to go back to prison.

"I think I did have to go to prison - it woke me up and made me realise I was a parent.

"Prison was horrible - I'm going to have to get my act together," she said.

Estelle Morris told Today education chiefs were already hearing "dozens" of anecdotal tales of parents of truants arriving at school with their children - as a direct result of hearing about Mrs Amos' case.

She added: "I hope Mrs Amos now understands that all those people who have contacted her over the past year have just wanted to help.

"We have seen this [prison sentence] has worked in this case and I think it could work in others but I would much prefer it if all the preventative measures in place would work first."

Mrs Amos also admitted, in the interview, to dabbling with heroin, but says she never used the drug when her daughters were around and has not touched it for 15 or 16 months.

Persistent truants

Mrs Amos, 43, was jailed for failing to ensure her daughters attended lessons at their Banbury comprehensive school.

The move by Banbury Magistrates' Court was believed to be the first of its kind under powers gained in November 2000.

From September 2001 to February this year, the court was told, the older daughter, Emma, had attended only 55 out of 190 school registrations - a 29% record.

Her younger sister Jackie attended 64 of 190 school sessions - a 34% attendance rate.

But last week Judge Peter Crawford QC, at Oxford Crown Court, agreed to prosecution claims that a 28-day sentence would suffice.

In an interview with Today on Monday, Emma and Jackie said the imprisonment of their mother had made them change their ways and they pledged not to play truant again.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Patricia Amos
"I caused my own problem"
Education Secretary, Estelle Morris
"It has set an example to others"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Child truancy
Should parents be held responsible?
See also:

27 May 02 | UK Education
27 May 02 | UK Education
14 May 02 | England
13 May 02 | UK Education
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