Are you a parent? If so, how do you feel about the fact that the Tory government is stealing your rights out from under your nose?
It will be nearly impossible to get those rights back if you lose them.
So, for example:
The government plans to change the law to require councils to use their powers to promote regular attendance and reduce absences. Schools will also be required to publish attendance policies and implement efforts to promote regular attendance.
The education secretary will be allowed to decide what will warrant an absence fine, which is currently set at council level. Current laws on granting absence will be extended to academies. The government wants these changes to come into effect in September 2023.
The government will legislate to create a duty on councils to keep a register of children not in school. There will also be a duty on parents to provide information to councils for the register.
Out-of-school education providers will be required to provide information to LAs on request. Councils will also have to provide support to registered home-educating families where it’s required.
The government will also legislate to speed up the issuing of school attendance orders, which are issued by councils on behalf of heads to parents or carers of absent pupils. School attendance orders are a precursor to absence fines.
It is not currently against the law for parents who have been issued with an order to withdraw their child from school. This will become a crime under the proposed legislation.
The maximum penalty for breaching an attendance order will increase to a £2,500 fine or up to 3 months’ imprisonment.
You may think those measures seem reasonable. But that would be to ignore the reasons why children avoid school and parents switch to home learning.
This excerpt from a Facebook post may put the situation in its proper context:
Currently in the UK our rights include the right to make sure that our children are recieving a full time education that suits their aptitude, abilities and needs.
One of your legal rights as parents in the UK, is that if your child has SEND or bullying issues at school, you can make the choice to withdraw them to home educate them, send them to another school if you prefer, and you have other routes and choices you can go down. You can visit schools and speak to SEND specialists, all before making your choices. This is just one tiny example.
Under the new bill, if you decide to home educate, you will need to obtain consent from the school your child is registered at. You may then get local authority staff who are not trained in education or SEND, assessing your child’s learning, well-being and development. The local authority will have the power to decide, at a moment’s notice, that your child must return to school, and they may send them to an inadequate school of their choosing, where your child’s needs may not be met, and from which they will not be allowed to be withdrawn by you.
Your rights, as parents, will be removed from you and given to the government. You will no longer have any control over your child’s education.
The Schools Bill is being advertised as a bill only targeting those ‘missing education’. However, if you read the actual document, you may well feel outraged! You do need to read it thoroughly though. To not read it, would mean to blindly accept that the government knows what is best for your child and you do not.
The advice is to read the Schools Bill – you can find it here – then write to your local MP and any local members of the House of Lords, whose job is to hold the government to account, and ask them to oppose the Bill’s ckauses that strip parents of their rights and hand those powers to Tory ministers.
The Facebook post continues:
Do you have a child who is sick or poorly a lot? This bill will affect you.Do you have a child who has mental health issues and is too anxious or depressed to attend school at times? This bill will affect you.Have you had a bereavement in the family, and your child wants to attend the funeral or needs some time off to grieve and process things? This bill will affect you.Do you have a child with undiagnosed or unmet special or additional educational needs? This bill will affect you.Is your child being severely and persistently bullied or socially ostracized at school, to the extent that it’s affecting their physical health, mental health and well-being? This bill will affect you.To put it bluntly, if you have a child, this bill will affect you.
Do you want the well-being of your child to be handed to faceless council functionaries performing tick-box exercises for Tory ministers like Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi?
That is what the Tory government is planning – unless you help stop it.
Tories do listen to public opinion. They fear unpopularity – and will act to curb legislation that may lead them to lose their Parliamentary seats; seats which are already in jeopardy because of the loss of Boris Johnson’s credibility.
So, if you’re a parent, it’s up to you. Will you let Nadhim Zahawi walk all over you – and trample any vulnerable child into the asphalt of the playground?
Or will you take action?
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