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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 21:37 GMT
Truancy mother walks free
Truancy case mother
Gertrude Bowdidge faced being jailed
An Essex mother who had been warned she could be jailed for failing to send her daughter to school walked free from court on Wednesday.

The girl, who is 15, has attended just one lesson in 168 days at Rickstones School in Witham.

Gertrude Bowdidge was first taken to court over her daughter's truancy last year and fined 100.

When she pleaded guilty to further charges two months ago she was warned then that she could be jailed for the offences.

I was so desperate to get her to school I even smashed the telly up

Gertrude Bowdidge
When she appeared for sentencing on Wednesday magistrates, who could have fined or jailed her, gave her a conditional discharge.

After the hearing she said: "I have tried everything in my power to make her go to school, shouting, bawling.

"I was so desperate to get her to school I even smashed the telly up because she was watching it all the time but she won't go.

"What else can I do?"

Essex County Council education department spokesman Nigel Hunt said the conditional discharge meant the onus was still on Mrs Bowdidge.

"With the conditional discharge she is now required to work with the school and with us to ensure attendance and we will monitor that and come back to court if necessary."

Katie Bowdidge's headmaster Terry Canty said he had been disappointed by the court's verdict.

Last year

"We will continue to work with the family to ensure that Katie's last year in school is a successful one.

"We will offer her all the opportunities there are.

"I hope this court case has shown Katie how close she has come to putting her mother in prison."

Mrs Bowdidge has said she would try to send Katie to school - but she could not be sure she would succeed.


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See also:

09 Oct 02 | Education
23 May 02 | Education
14 May 02 | England
13 May 02 | Education
16 Mar 00 | Education
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