Parents who let children truant could be stripped of benefits, Michael Gove says
Warning to parents who let their children play truant: Families could be stripped of benefits as part of post-Covid schools drive, Michael Gove says
Parents who let their children play truant could be stripped of benefits under a post-Covid schools drive.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove floated the idea as part of a ‘rigorous drive’ to get youngsters in the classroom.
Proposals for removing child benefit from families who fail to make children attend were previously floated under the Coalition, but eventually blocked by the Lib Dems.
Unions immediately condemned the move, saying it would be ‘wrong and counterproductive’.
Currently local authorities have options such as parenting orders, education supervision orders and fines to tackle persistent truancy.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove floated the idea as part of a ‘rigorous drive’ to get youngsters in the classroom
Speaking at an event hosted by the Onward think tank, Mr Gove said stripping child benefit could help restore ‘an ethic of responsibility’.
‘We need to – particularly after Covid – get back to an absolute rigorous focus on school attendance, on supporting children to be in school,’ he said.
‘It is often the case that it is truanting or persistent absenteeism that leads to involvement in anti-social behaviour.
‘So one of the ideas that we floated in the coalition years, which the Liberal Democrats rejected, is the idea that if children are persistently absent then child benefit should be stopped.
‘I think what we do need to do is to think radically about restoring an ethic of responsibility.’
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: ‘Not only is this wrong, it is also likely to be counter-productive. It is very hard to see how consigning children to poverty and starvation will improve their school attendance.
‘School staff are already deeply concerned by how many children are living in poverty and the impact that has on their academic performance and wellbeing.
‘Persistent absence can only be successfully tackled by offering help, not punishment. What is needed are more support services and resources for schools to work with families and to refer to when there are issues.’
Currently local authorities have options such as parenting orders, education supervision orders and fines to tackle persistent truancy