NUT says the policy will hurt the very children it purports to protect

truant kidsTeachers have criticised Conservative plans to dock child benefit for parents of truant children.

David Cameron says the policy is an attempt to bypass councils who fail to collect fines, but the NUT says it will backfire, hurting the very children it purports to protect.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “The Prime Minister is right to focus on ensuring every child gets the best start in life. However, collecting truancy fines directly from parents’ child benefit payments is not only unjustifiably punitive but could harm the child’s interests. The policy runs the risk of increasing family debt which has long term negative consequences for children.

“Children need the security and stability of the school day, and parents who are struggling with responsible parenting need constructive, long term support from local agencies to reverse truancy. There is no mention of additional help for school age carers who can have an extremely difficult time in accessing support for coping with a full time role at home as well as the demands of a school day. It is unacceptable that this group of children are left largely ignored or dependent upon woefully inadequate support mechanisms.”

The union also expressed doubt over Conservative plans to allow parents to request breakfast and after-school clubs or holiday care at their schools.

Christine Blower said: “The Prime Minister’s idea that schools increase childcare outside of school hours and during the holiday would need to be matched by specific additional funding and staffing. Some parents will welcome additional holiday provision, but will have questions about the quality, training and skills of play workers. Local authority and schools budgets are already fully employed. No one is under any illusion this could be provided from current budgets”.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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