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29 June 2020, 16:53
Parents who fail to send their children back to school from September will face fines if they don’t have a legitimate reason for them not attending.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said it will be compulsory for children to return to school in September, unless there is a local spike in coronavirus infection rates or “if there’s a very good reason.”
The government is due to detail plans later this week for how schools will safely resume in the autumn.
Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari, Gavin Williamson 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, and 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.”
Mr Williamson also said the return to education won’t rely on social distancing; instead classes will become “bubbles” separated from other pupils in other classes and year groups.
The government are also hoping to “reduce the number of transmission points” within schools.
However, many teaching unions have warned against re-introducing fines as many parents will remain anxious about sending their children back to school amid the ongoing covid-19 health risks.
Many children also could feel anxious about going back to school, especially if they have concerns about a shielding relative with health problems.
When schools partially reopened on 1 June, parents were given the choice of whether to send their children back and the use of fines has been suspended.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already said that lenience would change in September when education becomes compulsory again.
Parents can be fined £60 for an unauthorised absence, increasing to £120 if not paid with 21 days.
Prosecution can follow if fines are not paid.