Teaching unions and parents have hit back over the threat of fines if children do not return to the classroom next week, warning it could undermine trust between families and schools at a crucial point in the UK’s recovery from coronavirus.
And the head of the body representing parent teacher associations (PTAs) told The Independent that Boris Johnson’s assertion of a “moral duty” to get youngsters into school after the enforced break was “very unhelpful” for many mothers and fathers who have legitimate concerns over the health of their children.
The escalating row came just days ahead of the start of the autumn term in most of the UK, with huge stakes riding on the government’s handling of what Mr Johnson has described as an “absolutely vital” step in the country’s emergence from lockdown restrictions.
Downing Street and education ministers said that fines should be used as a “last resort” if pupils are kept home. But John Jolly, chief executive of Parentkind UK, which represents PTAs, said some schools felt they were being “set up” to act as enforcers and many were likely to try to avoid punitive action for absences.
A survey taken by the charity shortly before the summer holidays found that 74 per cent of parents wanted the right to decide whether their sons and daughters attend school for the rest of 2020. Some 74 per cent said they would certainly send their children back as soon as school opens, but 23 per cent were undecided and 3 per cent said they would not....
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