Parents not sending children back to school in September could be fined
PUBLISHED: 11:05 29 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:05 29 June 2020
Parents could be fined if they do not send their children back to school in September, the Education Secretary has said.
Gavin Williamson said a return to school will be “compulsory” and families may face financial penalties if they keep their children at home - unless there is a “good reason” for the absence.
A detailed plan on how the government will ensure that all children in England are back in the classroom in the autumn will be set out by the end of this week, the minister said.
His remarks came as nine secondary schools across Norfolk and Waveney said year 10 pupils would start their autumn term in mid-August instead of September 2.
MORE: Norfolk academy trust reveals Saturday lessons and August return date for year 10 pupils
Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust of academies, said pupils would be returning early from their summer holidays to make up for lessons lost during lockdown.
Year 10 pupils started Saturday catch-up classes at Cromer Academy, Thetford Academy, Hethersett Academy, East Point Academy in Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, Wayland Academy in Watton and the Hewett Academy, Jane Austen College and Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form in Norwich yesterday.
They will be returning to school full time on August 17.
Mr Williamson said the government is still consulting on how to return all pupils to the classroom in the autumn, but that advice for schools on reopening will be unveiled this week.
He said: “It is going to be compulsory for children to return back to school unless there’s a very good reason, or a local spike where there have had to be local lockdowns.
“We do have to get back into compulsory education as part of that, obviously fines sit alongside that.
“Unless there is a good reason for the absence then we will be looking at the fact that we would be imposing fines on families if they are not sending their children back.”
MORE: Prime Minister reveals 10-year schools rebuilding programme
Parents and Teachers for Education (PTE) a think tank founded by Dame Rachel, has announced a five-point plan to get children back to school.
It said attendance should be compulsory unless pupils have a health risk, sports should be resumed, Saturday lessons brought in for exam students to catch up, along with a longer school day and overtime payments for teachers working extra hours.
Latest figures show that around a third (34pc) of all Year 6 children attended school on June 18, up from 26pc on June 11.
Attendance was around a quarter (26pc) in Year 1, up from a fifth the previous week, and 29pc in reception, up from 22pc on June 11, the figures show.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the government of being “asleep at the wheel” on the issue of reopening schools, adding that there has been a “lack of planning”.
Speaking on Sky News, he said: “If you could put up Nightingale hospitals - a good thing to do - you can certainly put up temporary classrooms, you can certainly take over libraries, community centres.”
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