Parents warned of 'repercussions' of school absences

Including fines and legal action

12/3/2021 8:03:00 PM

Including fines and legal action

The Education Secretary is cracking down

Senior Social & Newsletter WriterThe Education Secretary is clamping down on pupil absence and wants councils to use their powers to deter parents from allowing their kids to have time off.This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small amount of money if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our articles and reviews are written independently by the Netmums editorial team.

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Your browser cannot play this video.When you ask your kid how their day wasAfter lockdowns, schools closures and missed learning time, many parents are now doing all they can to ensure their children are in school every day.Although parents are understandably more wary of sending their little ones in to class when they have a cold or cough – in case it's mistaken for COVID-19 – with some children still sometimes kept at home as a precaution.

And with the winter season upon us, it's inevitable kids will get ill, not to mention we're STILL in the middle of a pandemic.So the news that the Education Secretary plans to tackle pupil absence 'head-on' – as he attempts to reduce rising absence rates – is likely to frustrate parents who are battling to keep their children well during difficult times.

Asreported in Schools Week, Nadhim Zahawi has ordered councils to tell parents that keeping their children off school has 'repercussions', reminding them they can face legal action, education supervision orders and de-registration.Official figures show absence at 4.7% last autumn – the same as 2011. But the more recent weekly attendance figures show COVID-19 pushed up total absence to 10.7% last Thursday.

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In a recent letter, the Education Secretary told council chief executives to ensure parents know absence 'has repercussions', wanting them reminding these are back after the suspension of their use during COVID-19.Another, similar letter tells school leaders to 'make full use of enforcement actions.'

It comes after the Education Secretary made a commitment to make school attendance his top priority.New expert attendance advisers with decades of experience will soon begin work to reduce pupil absence. They will work with local authorities and multi-academy trusts who have been identified as having potential to benefit from the support.

The department has also identified schools with some of the greatest decreases in absence rates over a five-year period prior to the pandemic, and that have maintained their excellent approach.They will be sharing their approach with other schools in a variety of ways over the coming weeks and months, to help reduce high absence rates.

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A DfE spokesperson said being in school was 'vital both for young people’s education and for their mental health'.He added that children were at low risk of serious illness from coronavirus and vulnerable over-12s could receive the vaccine – but heads can still grant 'exceptional' absence.

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