Pressure on Wigan Council not to take action against parents over school absences

Wigan Trades Council wants to make sure those who are keeping their children at home over Covid-19 safety concerns in the classroom are not penalised.

The trade unionists slammed the Government for taking a hard line against those who do not believe the measures in place to prevent the novel coronavirus spreading are adequate or who have been shielding or are clinically extremely vulnerable.

The trade unionists said some councils have already announced they will not be pursuing fines or prosecution for non-attendance and has urged Wigan Council to follow suit.

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Trade unionists are pressuring the council not to fine parents over school absences

The local authority said no-one has yet been fined and it was looking to work with families and schools to find solutions where people were still reluctant to have their children attend classes.

But the trades council slated ministers for their attitude towards pupils being back in school and demanded Wigan Council takes a different approach.

A spokesperson said: “The Tories are now warning parents with clinically vulnerable relations that they have no option but to send their children into unsafe situations.

“Wigan Trades Council has received reports of parents around the borough experiencing high levels of anxiety over this cruel stance of the Government.

Cath Pealing, Wigan Council’s director of education

“However some councils, like Leeds, have categorically dismissed any suggestion that their parents will be penalised for not sending their children into school.

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“It’s now time for Wigan Council to step up to the mark and follow the example set by other considerate councils and defend the people they represent.

“There are some head-teachers in the borough who are sensitive to parents’ concerns, which we applaud.

“But there are others who are simply regurgitating the advice given by the Tories.

“The council must take an independent stand on this and defend parents who are following the scientific advice, and are trying to keep their children and relatives safe.”

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The trades council said it was aware of around 11 schools in the borough where pupils or staff have been sent home to isolate due to positive cases since the return to face-to-face teaching.

The local authority said it was committed to working with both schools and parents to get children back in the classroom and to work out what steps it would take if pupils continued to stay at home.

Cath Pealing, Wigan Council’s director of education, said: “Wigan has not issued any fines to parents to date. As a local authority we are committed to working with our schools and our families to understand their concerns and to work together to try to address these.

“We are aware that practice may differ across schools as the school retains the right to request a penalty notice but the local authority will work with the school to look at the reasons and if this is appropriate.

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“We are really pleased that our schools have seen an excellent rate of attendance since March 8 and while we are still experiencing disruption from the anticipated increase in transmission, our schools efforts in terms of their continued risk assessments and safety control measures is to be commended.

“We will continue to work with families and schools on supportive measures and continue to look at how we can comfortably and safely integrate families back into school.”

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