Warning to parents making their kids play truant: Families could be deprived of benefits as part of post-Covid schools, says Michael Gove
Parents who made their children play truant could be deprived of their benefits as part of a post-Covid school campaign.
Leveling Secretary Michael Gove came up with the idea as part of a ‘rigorous drive’ to get young people into the classroom.
Proposals to abolish child support for families who do not have children had previously been floated among the coalition, but were ultimately blocked by the Lib Dems.
Unions immediately condemned the move, saying it would be “wrong and counterproductive.”
Municipalities currently have options such as parental orders, supervision orders and fines to tackle persistent truancy.
Leveling Secretary Michael Gove came up with the idea as part of a ‘rigorous drive’ to get young people into the classroom
At an event organized by the think tank Onward, Mr Gove said abolishing child support could help restore ‘an ethic of responsibility’.
“We have to go back – especially after Covid – to an absolute strict focus on school attendance, on supporting children to go to school,” he said.
‘Often it is truancy or persistent absenteeism that leads to involvement in antisocial behaviour.
‘So one of the ideas that we floated in the coalition years, but which was rejected by the Liberal Democrats, is that if children are persistently absent, child benefits should be stopped.
“I think we need to think radically about restoring an ethic of responsibility.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders’ union NAHT, said: ‘Not only is this wrong, it’s probably counterproductive. It is very difficult to see how leading children to poverty and famine will improve their school attendance.
‘School staff are already very concerned about the number of children living in poverty and the impact this has on their academic performance and well-being.
‘Persistent absenteeism can only be tackled successfully by offering help, not by punishing. What is needed are more support services and resources for schools to work with families and refer to when there are problems.”
Downing Street said it was not aware of any plans to change or amend its current policy.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said he had not seen the full comments, but told reporters that “if the question is whether parents should be fined for children not attending school, I believe they already are.”
Municipalities currently have options such as parental orders, supervision orders and fines to tackle persistent truancy