Schools will have the power to implement £120 fines on parents who refuse to send their children back to school in September. Given the financial hardship for many as a result of the coronavirus pandemic for many families across the country, this is a terrifying concept. Some families may have saved up for months for a holiday this summer, only to be forced to undertake a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period following a trip abroad as the UK quarantine list is changed constantly.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said parents in England who do not send their children back to school in September will face fines.
He said: “Unless there’s a good reason for absence, we’d be imposing fines on families.”
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the suspension of fines would end when schools reopen in September.
He said: “We need to get the kids back into school. I want all pupils back in school in September.”
Asked whether that would be compulsory, he added: “Yes. It’s the law.”
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Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the main union for secondary headteachers, told said the decision should be left to teachers.
He told The Telegraph: “I think it unwise to bring in fines in September. Headteachers should not be put in this position.
“We should learn from other countries where many parents have been concerned to send their kids to school.
“We should be playing the long game here, and the public needs to have much more confidence that reopening schools will be completely safe.
“Bringing in the fines also risks pouring further misery on disadvantaged families.”
How are parents punished for children missing school?
Local councils and schools have a number of c=poers to ensure school attendance.
They can issue the following: a Parenting Order, an Education Supervision Order, a School Attendance Order or a fine.
Your local council can give each parent a fine of £60, which rises to £120 each if you do not pay within 21 days.
If you do not pay the fine after 28 days you may be prosecuted for your child’s absence from school.
Will you be fined if your child cannot attend school due to travel quarantine?
Pupils who do not attend school because they have to self-isolate or quarantine will not be recorded as absent, the Department for Education said earlier this month.
Schools have been told to record non-attendance by pupils who are required by law or government guidance to stay away with “code X”.
This classification does not count as an absence in the school census.
This will cover pupils who are required to isolate because a member of their household has symptoms or a confirmed case of coronavirus or they have been identified as having been in “close contact” with someone suspected of having COVID-19.
In addition, anyone required to self-isolate as part of a period of quarantine such as those returning from certain countries will be included.
Express.co.uk has contacted the Department of Education for comment.