Daily Mail

A sixth of par­ents may keep their chil­dren at home

- By Josh White Ed­u­ca­tion Re­porter

PAR­ENTS were yes­ter­day warned they face fines for keep­ing pupils out of school over coro­n­avirus fears – as a poll showed one in six could refuse to send their chil­dren back.

Schools min­is­ter Nick Gibb said fines could be is­sued by heads as a ‘last re­sort’.

But 17 per cent of par­ents in Eng­land and Wales are ‘se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing’ keep­ing their chil­dren at home. And nearly half (48 per cent) think it would be un­fair to is­sue fines, the poll found. A sim­i­lar num­ber of par­ents (47 per cent) think sec­ondary pupils should wear masks in school, but 36 per cent are op­posed to this.

The Par­ents Om­nibus sur­vey by YouGov in­ter­viewed more than 650 par­ents of schoolage chil­dren. Mr Gibb said yes­ter­day: ‘All the [usual] rules about at­ten­dance will ap­ply from to­day.

‘Fines have al­ways been a last re­sort for head­teach­ers, but it is... a tool that they have to make sure that young peo­ple are at­tend­ing school.’

He urged par­ents to talk to schools for re­as­sur­ance rather than re­fus­ing to send chil­dren in. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties can fine par­ents £120 – cut to £60 if paid within 21 days – with the threat of pros­e­cu­tion if they fail to pay. But if pupils can­not at­tend school be­cause they or their par­ents are ‘fol­low­ing clin­i­cal and/or pub­lic health ad­vice’, they will not be pun­ished and the school will be ex­pected to pro­vide re­mote learn­ing.

Head­teach­ers’ union the NAHT has called for the threat of sanc­tions to be dropped, say­ing ‘a fine is un­likely to make you feel any safer’.

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