AN IRRESPONSIBLE dad who repeatedly failed to send his three daughters to school has been jailed.

Edward Williams, of Prospect Close, Southend, was sent to prison as a last resort after council officers exhausted all other efforts to get him to comply with the law.

The 53-year-old has three children at Cecil Jones Academy, in Eastern Avenue, Southend - but last year failed to send any of them to school for the entire academic year.

Southend Council has taken him to court several times, resulting in three convictions.

But he was finally jailed after admitting three further counts of failing to ensure a child attended school regularly.

Southend Magistrates’ Court handed him an eight-week jail term for each offence, but the sentences will all run at the same time.

James Courtenay, Southend Council cabinet member for children and learning, said: “Making sure your child attends school is one of the most basic duties that any parent has to carry out.

“Persistent absence is a significant factor in children underachieving and is simply not acceptable.

“This is an absolutely appalling case of non-attendance that has been going on over several years. This is despite support from the local authority, the school and other agencies, the parents of this family have over numerous years failed to ensure that their children attend school on a regular basis.”

Williams was prosecuted under the Education Act 1996, which has been used by schools to punish parents who take children on term-time holidays.

But this case was different and Mr Courtenay said the children have missed out on vital education at a very important stage in their lives.

He said: “None of the three children have been sent to school at all in the last academic year.

“Prior to this in the previous academic year all children were persistently absent - one of the children only had five per cent attendance .

“This is completely unacceptable.

“I really hope that this sentence is welcomed and acts as a deterrent to other parents who do not send their children to school on a regular basis.

“The issuing of penalty notices and prosecution is always a last resort, but in this case is completely justified.

“Pupils who attend school regularly are able to access learning, experience the variety of activities within school, maintain positive peer relationships and achieve better exam results, and no child should have that taken away from them.”

Bev Williams is the chief executive officer of the Legra Academy Trust, which runs the Cecil Jones Academy.

She said: “Due to the decision being made by the court, the academy is unable to comment.”