A sixth of parents may keep their children at home
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’.