A school in Milton Keynes has caused debate today as they have warned parents that they will be implementing a fine if their children are late for school 10 times in a 12 week term (BBC, Jan 2014).
I think it is important that cases should be individually reviewed, identifying any underlying causes that are preventing pupils arriving to school on time. Some pupils may have extenuating circumstances and this should be taken into consideration when implementing any kind of penalty system. This includes providing help and support for pupils and their families to combat any intrinsic problems that are having this detrimental effect on the pupil’s education.
Putting a warning system into effect so that all parents are aware of the consequences is essential. There is no doubt that habitual lateness will affect the learning of the pupil and may disturb the rest of the class. So, should the penalty be a financial one?
I don’t know how that would work with those on the breadline – poverty brings its own stresses and strains that won’t be solved by slapping fines on cash-strapped parents struggling with their offspring. But the general movement towards making parents accountable for their children is a good one.
As long as a warning system and its penalties are well communicated and individual situations are considered, I don’t think it is an unreasonable request to ask that pupils are late less than 10 times in 12 weeks, and I agree there needs to be a penalty for parents that are clearly repeat offenders in this area. Parents are responsible their children’s education and they need to impart the understanding that the skill of punctuality is an important one to possess, after all an employer would not have much patience with an employee turning up late to work once a week, 10 out of 12 weeks.
Featured image courtesy of Sun Ladder.