Pupils are skipping school on Fridays and using the excuse that ‘mum and dad are at home’ with parents increasingly choosing to WFH at the end of the week, Children’s Commissioner warns
- Dame Rachel de Souza said she was ‘seriously worried’ about more absences
- It comes as bosses struggle to get staff back into the office five days a week
More pupils are skipping school on Friday because they’re copying examples of parents working from home, the Children’s Commissioner has warned.
Dame Rachel de Souza said she is ‘seriously worried’ about the number of persistent absences and children bunking off class.
Some are using the excuse that ‘mum and dad are at home’ to skip school as parents are increasingly choosing to work from home at the end of the week, she said.
It comes as bosses struggle to get staff back into the office five days a week, with many employees working from home on Mondays and Fridays.
Around 818,000 of the 1.6 million children who were persistently absent across the autumn and spring terms in 2021/22 were off school for reasons other than illness, Mrs de Souza said.
Dame Rachel de Souza (pictured) said she is ‘seriously worried’ about the number of persistent absences and children bunking off class
She told MPs at the education committee: ‘We’re seeing a huge amount of Friday absence that wasn’t there before. Parents are at home on Fridays.
‘We’ve had evidence from kids: “Well, you know mum and dad are at home, stay at home.”
‘We need our children back to school and I just can’t urge everyone enough to be singing that from the rooftops.’
Figures from the Office for National Statistics last month revealed one in six employees are still based at home five days a week.
More than a quarter of the labour force is combining remote working with travelling to the office. And, with commuters being hit by train strikes, four in ten spent at least one day at home over the past few months.
Dame Rachel said the main reasons why children are off school is because their special educational needs are not being met, as well as anxiety and mental health issues.
But she added there is also a group of pupils who have ‘just not come back’ since the pandemic.
Speaking to MPs on Tuesday about the role of parents, Alice Wilcock, head of education at the Centre for Social Justice think tank, added: ‘Especially post-lockdown I think parents are facing social media that they’re not familiar with, that they don’t necessarily know about the online world.
‘Bullying used to be in the classroom and quite visible; now it’s online and parents don’t feel equipped to tackle that.
‘And also parents don’t feel equipped to tackle the gaming addictions that started during the pandemic.’