PARENTS were ordered to carry out unpaid work after appearing in court for the second time for failing to send their children to school.

Nathaniel Exton, 33, and Michelle Gordon, 35, claimed they had no money to transport their children from their Ross-on-Wye home to their respective Hereford schools.

Sam Smith, prosecuting on behalf of Herefordshire Council last Friday, said it was the second time the parents had been before the court regarding their two children after receiving a fine in September.

Both parents, from Orchid Close, admitted knowingly failing to ensure their two children regularly attended school.

Hereford Magistrates heard that, between October and January, their one child had a 63 per cent attendance record at Whitecross School, while their other child who attended Trinity Primary School had a 67 per cent attendance record.

"During this offence staff at both schools and a welfare office made numerous attempts to support and sent text messages, emails, made home visits and tried to arrange meetings," said Mrs Smith.

"They received limited response from both parents. Reasons given included illness, their own illness and problems with transport. Both school requested medical evidence but that was not provided and the absences remained unauthorised."

The court heard that on December 13, a welfare officer and headteacher of Trinity High School attended the couple's home address.

"Both children had gone to school that day and Exton said that she had sent the transfer forms to the local authority," added Mrs Smith.

"The authority hadn't received the completed forms and further forms were completed during the visit."

They were invited for an interview by the local authority but didn't respond to the letter or take up the opportunity, Mrs Smith added.

Since moving schools in January, both children's attendances are now above 95 per cent.

Emily Gourley, mitigating, said that after their previous court case the children's attendance had improved.

She added: "However, at the end of October, Exton lost his job and didn't restart work until the beginning of this year.

"The family of four were living in Ross-on-Wye and their children were educated in the Hereford area. When he became unemployed the family couldn't afford to insure the family's car let alone put petrol in it.

"So there was no form of transport for the children to easily use.

"They had two children at home who wanted to go to school and on occasions when they were fit and well they simply couldn't get them there. They were looking at transferring them to a more local school and made arrangements right at the beginning but the education authority took so long in producing the forms and at one point lost the forms.

"Since starting at their new schools their attendance is very good and absences are for authorised reasons."

Both parents were ordered to complete 12 month-community orders, including 60 hours of unpaid work.

They were also ordered to pay £150 costs each.