A MUM of two has been jailed after magistrates heard that her children had persistently missed school for six years.

Bournemouth magistrates made the decision to jail the 38-year-old Poole mum for eight weeks after hearing that all other avenues had been exhausted.

Prosecutor Louise Redfern told the court that education and welfare officers at the Borough of Poole had first become concerned about the two sisters' school attendance six years ago.

The mum, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to ensure the regular attendance of her children at school under the Education Act 1996.

She has 10 previous convictions for similar offences involving the same two children.

The children, who are now teenagers, have been placed on the Child Protection Register.

One girl had missed 35 half day sessions out of a possible 96 whilst the second child had missed 31 half day sessions between December 3 2007 and May 23 2008 Bournemouth Magistrates Court heard.

As the verdict was announced, the weeping mum turned to one of the children in the public gallery and mouthed: "I love you."

The maximum penalty for such offences is a possible £2,500 fine or up to three months' imprisonment.

Ms Redfern said: "The local authority has been working with this family since 2002.

"The local authority does not take lightly prosecuting where a parent may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

"She has been before the court on previous occasions. She has had conditional discharges, fines and parenting orders and she has had a suspended prison sentence and certainly the situation is so dire at this point in time the children are now subject to child protection plans because we are so concerned about them."

She added: "No authority wants to see a parent in prison."

Defending, Nicola Jinks told magistrates that other avenues had not been fully explored in the pre-sentence report which recommended jail.

The family was one with "many problems", she said. "You may want to give her one more chance," she added.

Jailing the mother, chairman of the bench Ted Stevens criticised her "lack of co-operation" with the authorities adding: "We have come to the inescapable conclusion that nothing other than a custodial sentence is appropriate for these offences."