Our lawyers have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson today, asking him to urgently clarify school attendance guidance so that it considers the needs of vulnerable families – and threatening formal legal proceedings if he does not.
The Government’s new rules and lack of Covid protections in schools place parents from clinically vulnerable families in an impossible position: either they risk prosecution by keeping their kids at home to protect their family’s health, or risk loved ones’ lives by sending their children to school.
This is urgent. We are already aware of at least one case in which an immunosuppressed parent was criminally prosecuted for their child’s absence from school. Other parents tell us they’ve been bullied by schools worried about attendance figures into deregistering their child, leaving their child without formal education and causing enormous strain to family life.
We believe the Government’s stance puts lives at risk and is unlawful.
We want schools, local authorities and Government to stop the bullying, stop the threats of fines and prosecutions, and show some basic compassion by taking this on a case by case basis.
We are asking Government to update the guidance to ensure that schools are aware that absences of children from vulnerable households can be recognised as authorised, and that they should provide remote learning where needed for vulnerable families.
This is no time for politics.
Vulnerable children or family members are going to die, unnecessarily, if Government carries on pretending in the face of all the evidence that the pandemic is over.
If you are in a position to do so, you can donate to the legal action here.
We are grateful to the grass-roots organisations that support us, and whom we support, in this work including ShieldUs, The Hive, Clinically Vulnerable Families, The Vulnerable and Shielding Network, One Voice, Safe Ed for All, Parents United, and Long Covid Kids.
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