Parents who don’t send their children back to the classroom when schools re-open from 1 June will not face fines, the Department for Education has said tonight.
However, the DfE says it “strongly encourages” families to take up school places – unless a child or a family member is self-isolating or if the child is particularly vulnerable due to an underlying condition.
The news follows concerns by parents over whether or not it will be safe for children to return to school following proposals announced yesterday that pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 could begin lessons again from 1 June.
The DfE also said that secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will also “work towards the possibility of providing some face-to-face contact” with young people in Year 10 and Year 12 to help them prepare for exams next year.
Nursery school pupils will also be among the first to return under the plans in which the DfE has also revealed safety measures it will put in place in schools, including reducing the size of classes and keeping children in small groups without mixing with others.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of parents have signed a petition arguing they should be given a choice over whether to send their children back to school if they reopen more widely in June.
Begun by parent Lucy Browne, it says that many parents "have lost confidence in the government's handling of this crisis and feel it is too early to return children to schools".
In a statement tonight, the DfE said: “While there will be no penalty for families who do not send their children to school, families will be strongly encouraged to take up these places – unless the child or a family member is shielding or the child is particularly vulnerable due to an underlying condition."