The usual old regime of parents doing sad faces for local newspapers when fined for keeping their kids off school in term time is about to return, with England’s education secretary saying we’ll be pretending everything’s back to normal by September and sending the children to school whether we like it or not.
Gavin Williamson said parents will be fined for keeping children home without good reason; a rule usually enforced to punish mums and dads for taking advantage of cheaper mini breaks at Center Parcs outside of school holiday windows. From next term, though, parents of children in England will be punished for being scared their children might pick up a deadly disease and keeping them home.
That’s not really the right way of doing things though, says headteacher union boss Geoff Barton, who said parents are “frightened and anxious” and that his headteachers, who ultimately decide what is or isn’t an authorised absence, may decide to ignore government advice and allow children to stay home anyway, in order to avoid the appearance of warring with families.
Plus it entirely ignores the feelings of children themselves, who have had three months of being told they’ll die from touching a door handle, so may not actually want to emerge back into what they’ve been repeatedly told is a world that wants them dead.
Barton says schools need to forget about fining parents and do everything nice and slow and ignore what the government says if necessary, adding: “This is very much a case of building confidence that it is safe to return, rather than forcing the issue through the use of fines.” [BBC]
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