Parents in England who choose to not send their children back to school in September, could be fined, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has warned.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the weekend that the government had made it compulsory for children to return to school after the summer holidays.
Now the Education Secretary has said families will face financial penalties if they keep their children at home- unless there is a “good reason” for their absence.
Mr. Williamson told LBC radio, “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 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 said a detailed plan on how schools in England will fully reopen in Autumn will be set out by the end of next week.
This action follows Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s comments on the government being “asleep at the wheel” on the issue of schools reopening.
Schools across the UK have remained open for vulnerable and key worker children throughout the lockdown.
Earlier this month, they reopened in England for children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, but, ahead of the phased reopening, the Government assured parents they would not face fines.
However only a small percentage of parents are currently sending their children to school. According to the latest government figures, (34 percent) of all Year 6 children attended school on June 18, up from 26 percent on June 11.
Attendance was around a quarter (26%) in Year 1, up from a fifth the previous week, and 29% in Reception, up from 22% on June 11, the figures show.
Speaking on Monday, Boris Johnson said the fact that more pupils are not back at school yet is a source of “deep frustration” for him.
The Prime Minister told Times Radio that teaching unions and councils should be saying “loud and clear” that schools are safe.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), has called for a “period of grace” before fining parents if they refuse to send their children back to school when they fully reopen.