ADULTS responsible for truant schoolchildren are being warned they could go to prison.

The message comes after figures show that above average numbers of Somerset children skive school.

Parents of AWOL pupils have already been facing the consequences of their youngsters bunking off, with fines, warnings and pending court cases – but, in the worst instances, they could be jailed for up to three months.

In a week of sweeps in April by education attendance officers, supported by police, 118 children were stopped in the street or found at home.

Since then, school attendance has improved for the majority but legal action has been taken against 14 parents, including five in the Sedge-moor and Mendip areas.

The parents of another 12 children in Sedgemoor and Mendip have received written warnings or penalty notices.

Somerset County Council cabinet member Cllr Frances Nicholson said: “I’m glad the follow-up work from the attendance sweeps has been to such good effect with improved attendance by the vast majority of pupils identified earlier this year as being truant.

“It’s regrettable that, in some cases, further action has become necessary, but I entirely support officers in their efforts to get all children to school.”

Another countywide sweep will be launched shortly on top of regular monitoring of unauthorised absences by school education attendance officers.

The Somerset rate of persistently truant children is 6.2%, above the England average of 6.1%.