Education Secretary: parents to face fines if kids aren't sent back to school in September

28 June 2020, 09:01

Gavin Williamson said parents could be fined
Gavin Williamson said parents could be fined. Picture: LBC

By Kate Buck

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has told LBC that parents will face fines if they don't send their children back to school in September.

Mr Williamson said today that his number one priority is to make schools secure and safe places following the coronavirus crisis.

He told Nick Ferrari on LBC: "What we will see in September is that every school, every child and every lesson will be running and that children will be able to go in to schools and have the benefit of the world-class education that we provide.

"We've got almost 1.5million children going back as of last week. I want to see that number grow and grow every week until the summer holidays and then in September, every child will be back."

Boris Johnson has vowed to make it "compulsory" for all children in England to be back in school in September.

Pupils have been largely absent from schools since the end of March as the country adapts to social distancing measures to keep the coronavirus at bay.

It meant Year 11 and Sixth Form students missed out on their summer exam periods.

Primary schools did open up for a few year groups at the beginning of June, but to limited capacity, as thousands of parents kept them home over fears it would not be safe for them to return.

But the Prime Minister has made it clear he wants to get all children back in the classroom when the new academic year starts in September.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson said: "We need to get the kids back into school. I want all pupils back in school in September."

Asked whether it would be compulsory, he added "Yes. It’s the law."

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed on Monday that families could be fined if they do not send their children back in September.

He told LBC: "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."

Children have been largely absent from the classroom since March
Children have been largely absent from the classroom since March. Picture: PA

Mr Johnson is also expected to lay out his vision for how the country will rebuild the economy in a speech on Tuesday.

He will announce the creation of a taskforce to accelerate the building of schools, hospitals, roads and even prisons.

Downing Street said the rush at which the NHS Nightingale hospitals were created across the country inspired Mr Johnson to set up the infrastructure delivery taskforce, which will be chaired by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The group will be told that there are "now no excuses for delays" to building programmes after the country demonstrated it can move at pace during a national emergency.

Millions of children have been homeschooled during lockdown
Millions of children have been homeschooled during lockdown. Picture: PA

The body will sift through the blueprints of major infrastructure projects in the pipeline and look to iron out any inefficiencies which could hold-up their delivery and stall the country in getting back on track.

Known as "Project Speed" among officials, the taskforce will asked to assess building programmes in every city, town and village to ensure communities across the country can benefit more quickly from the improvements that infrastructure brings, Government sources said.

"The coronavirus response has shown that it doesn't have to take years to get essential projects off the ground - the Nightingale hospitals and ventilator challenge were up and running in a matter of weeks," said a Downing Street spokesman.

"As we recover from the pandemic we must apply that same urgency to the major projects at the foundations of this country and get them done right, to truly level up opportunity across the UK.

"There's now no excuse for delays. Infrastructure has the power to rebuild and repair our country - and we will do it better, faster and more strategically than before."

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