Wigan mum furious about row with primary school over potential off-rolling

Lisa Diaz is keeping her son Alex and daughter Helena at home due to her concerns about Covid-19 safety in schools.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 10:39 am
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 3:28 pm

Lisa, from Swinley, has been told Alex and Helena may not be able to indefinitely stay on the roll at Woodfield Primary School on Wigan Lane.

Headteacher Anna Prior also told her home-schooling was an option to look at.

But Lisa, who for health reasons has been voluntarily shielding, does not want to home-school Alex and Helena and is fiercely contesting that the school has the legal right to remove them.

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Lisa Diaz with her children Alex and Helena

She says Alex and Helena have not been in lessons as she does not believe the measures in schools to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are adequate.

Lisa also blasted Wigan Council over its insistence action will be taken against parents keeping their children at home.

Lisa previously spoke anonymously to Wigan Today criticising the town hall and school after threats of fines and prosecution were printed in the newsletter.

Department for Education (DfE) coronavirus guidance for schools says off-rolling is “never acceptable”.

Woodfield Primary School on Wigan Lane

Lisa, 39, said: “I think this is inhumane. It’s horrible. How can you punish for a decision that parents are making based on science?

“Schools aren’t safe, there is nothing to mitigate aerosol transmission, especially now primary school children aren’t allowed to wear masks.

“There’s no justification for the school’s action. It’s unlawful and unacceptable.

“I don’t actually want to fall out with the school, I don’t want to trash that relationship. But it’s gone past the point of no return when the headteacher puts in the newsletter that you could be fined or prosecuted. I’ve just had enough of this absolute nonsense.”

Lisa says she does not believe Alex and Helena cannot be off-rolled as she is in daily contact with the school,sending work and asking for further advice about home learning.

The newsletter said that penalty notices of £60 could be levied for non-attendance, rising to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

Lisa is particularly annoyed by Wigan Council’s stance as local authorities including Norfolk, Sandwell and Leeds have already said they will not fine parents keeping children at home.

Anna Prior, head teacher at Woodfield Primary School said: “Woodfield Primary School sympathises with parents’ concerns and we have worked tirelessly to ensure the school is fully compliant with the necessary Covid-19 safety measures.

“Woodfield has provided the maximum appropriate support to all families and children within the regulations set out by the government.

“We do not want to see any of our families leave the school community and it is a priority for us to ensure our children can access their education in a school setting.

“We will continue to work with our families so they feel reassured and confident in the measures we have put in place to provide a safe and secure learning environment.”

Cath Pealing, assistant director for education at Wigan Council, said: “We understand and completely appreciate that the pandemic is affecting all of our families in different ways.

“The government decision to send children back to school has been difficult for some to adjust to but most of our children and young people have now returned.

“In the very few cases where there are additional anxieties, schools are advised to work with those families to support a return.

“We are mindful that some families are concerned about the impacts of Covid-19 due to vulnerabilities and we will continue to work with them to ensure they feel as safe and supported as possible.

“However, national guidance has now changed and schools are not under an obligation to continue to provide remote learning unless the child themselves is CEV or isolating.

“Though the government has stated that local authorities can impose sanctions, Wigan Council has not issued any penalty notices.

“We continue to reassure parents that our schools are working hard to ensure their environments are safe so that our children can continue to access a quality education.”

The DfE’s Covid guidance for schools, printed on the Government website, says: “Off-rolling is never acceptable. Ofsted is clear that pressuring a parent to remove their child from the school (including to home educate their child) is a form of off-rolling.

“Elective home education should always be a positive choice taken by parents without pressure from their school.”

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