Going to school ‘non-negotiable’, warns Nadhim Zahawi in crackdown on truants

Changes backing that up will be contained in the new Schools Bill, expected to be laid before Parliament on Thursday.

Successive ministers have been alarmed at the scale of absenteeism during the Covid pandemic and as cases eased off in the months that followed.

There has also been a marked drop in the number of fines issued to parents whose children fail to attend school. New nationwide standards will be issued on how councils, who have the power to issue such fines, use them. The average fine is around £60.

Councils will be told that the blanket approach adopted, which sees automatic fines triggered by absenteeism, should be replaced with a “case by case” approach.

A Department for Education source familiar with the drive said: “The reason for fining parents is not to punish them financially – it is to get kids into school.

“If that blanket approach is not leading to increasing attendance, it is right to look at other ways to get children back in the classroom as well as fines. We are taking a zero tolerance approach to absenteeism.”

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