Parents 'may face tougher sanctions if their children play truant'

A crackdown on truancy in English schools will soon be enacted –  but potential punishments for children who miss classes, and for their parents, is still unknown.

The Government has today vowed to ‘strengthen the school attendance regime’ across the country.

Under the new School Bill, councils will be legally required to clamp down on the numbers of children missing school.

Whether it be unauthorised holidays, sick days or home-schooling, each reason will be logged under the new Bill.

Schools will be required to publish an attendance policy and pupils not present in classes will be recorded on a special ‘children not in schools’ register.

Councils will be required to use the new scheme to ‘identify children who are not receiving safe or suitable education’.  

They will be also responsible for offering support to home-schooling families.

The bill aims to make ‘reforms to education which will help every child fulfill their potential wherever they live, raising standards and improving the quality of schools and higher education.’

The aim for the schooling future is that, by 2030, 90% of children will achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.

Yesterday, Labour hit out at the new bill, claiming ‘the Conservatives are obsessing over structures instead of improving children’s experience in the classroom’ following two years of Covid chaos.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: ‘This Bill contains no plan to support children’s pandemic recovery. No plan to improve teaching and tackle the exodus of school staff from our classrooms.

‘No plan to ensure more young people gain essential qualifications. No plan to give children the broad education that young people, parents and employers want to see. No plan, no ambition, no vision for our children.’

But Boris Johnson responded education is ‘at the very heart of this Government’s agenda’.

He said: ‘We are determined to raise standards in our schools so every child has access to the same opportunities wherever they live, and our brilliant teachers are supported to do what they do best, which is why we’re putting our education ambition into law this week.

‘By giving every child a good education, we’re giving them the opportunity to thrive so they can reach their full potential and secure the jobs needed, this is absolutely vital to our levelling up mission.’

Today’s speech was read by Prince Charles on his mother’s behalf.

He said the reforms ‘will help every child fulfil their potential wherever they live.’

The Queen, 96, reluctantly pulled out of the major ceremonial occasion following advice from her royal doctors as she continues to experience ‘episodic mobility problems’.

The State Opening of Parliament is held annually, and is the major ceremonial event of the year, watched by millions on television.

For many children, returning to school after lockdown was a struggle.

One 13-year-old girl refused to return due to anxiety, in a hugely ‘distressing’ situation.

Juggling the changes involved with the constantly-changing covid climate had led to the family seeking out mental health support.

The girl’s mother said: ‘The circumstances of the pandemic masked the fact she was mentally unwell.

‘I could see things were declining, but I also knew that Emily’s friends were spending lots of time in their rooms because of the lockdown too. This meant that changes weren’t picked up at school either.’

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