HC Deb 27 March 1911 vol 23 cc1094-5W

asked the President of the Board of Education (1) on what date or dates he consulted the local education authorities as to the desirability an practicability of so altering the school attendance by-laws as to make it legal for a parent, in case of illness, to keep a child from school; and which were the local education authorities he consulted; (2) whether he consulted the local education authorities by means of a written communication directed to ascertain their views as to the desirability of modifying the school attendance by-laws in case of illness, or by what other means he consulted them, and what replies he received; (3) in what manner and on what date he consulted the local education authority for the county of Essex as to the desirability of modifying the school attendance by-laws in case of illness; and what reply he received, and on what date, and by whom such reply was signed, or, if not in writing, by whom such reply was given; and (4) whether he will consider the possibility of finding means which, without prejudicing the interests of the children, will satisfy the natural desire of a parent in case of illness to keep a child from school when the parent is not able to afford to pay for the services of a nurse, and the presence of the child at home is certified by the doctor to be necessary?


I am afraid that either I misunderstood the object of one of his supplementary questions on 20th March, or he has misunderstood my answer. The Board's approval is required to all school attendance by-laws of local education authorities, and they are accordingly in consultation from time to time with local education authorities on all points arising out of their approval of such by-laws. If the particular modification suggested by the hon. Member is desired by any local education authority the authority is quite free to suggest it; but, as I have already indicated, I hardly think that many local education authorities would wish the practice of keeping children from school for the purpose indicated in the question to be facilitated. It would, in any case, be outside the province of the Board to take the initiative in the matter. All school attendance bylaws are required by statute to provide that a parent need not cause his child to attend school if there is a reasonable excuse for his not doing so, and it is for the Court to decide in any case of prosecution for failure to send a child to school whether the failure was due to any unavoidable cause.