Schools reopening: Fury at ‘absurd’ threat to fine parents £1000 for keeping kids away | UK | News


Parents who choose not to send their children to school once they are reopened could be fined up to £1000. The sanction has sparked fury among those who argue the coronavirus risk is too high from their point of view. Kevin Courtney, the General Secretary of the National Education Union, warned Times Radio it was “absurd” for the penalty to continue to be available to headteachers.

He said: “If I was the Government, I would be saying that is not the road we are going down.

“I would not be saying to heads that that sanction was available to them.

“Parents, by and large, want to send their children to school.

“They need to be reassured about the safety measures, and it’s reassurance that we’re going to have to work with.”

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Mr Courtney continued: “But the idea that you would be fining say someone from an ethnic minority group living in a multi-generational household in an area where there were high levels of the virus is absurd.

“Heads have got that power at all times and we generally say fining isn’t the right approach.

“I think the Government should be clear to heads that they should not be using that power as a way of trying to get parents to bring their children back to school.

“I am saying that parents should bring their kids back to school.”

Under education regulations, headteachers already have the authority to authorise or refuse permission for the absence of a pupil during term time.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the power still applied during the pandemic.

He said: “Unless there’s a good reason for absence, we’d be imposing fines on families.

“We do have to get back into compulsory education and obviously fines sit alongside as part of that.”

Schools in England are officially reopening for the next academic year in September.

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