Good Law Project supports Covid-vulnerable family in proceedings against Solihull Council for threatening fines for keeping children off school

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Good Law Project is supporting a clinically vulnerable family to challenge Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council for forcing their children back to school while Covid continues. 

Last month, the Secretary of State for Education updated the guidance for schools and local authorities, confirming that schools can allow Covid-related absences for pupils who are clinically vulnerable because of a health condition, or who have vulnerable family members. 
 
But Solihull Council has apparently chosen to take a hard-line approach and demand that all children in the borough attend school in person. And is apparently threatening vulnerable families with fines if they keep their children off school due to fear of Covid outbreaks. 
 
Good Law Project is supporting parents Mr and Mrs Brooks* to challenge this position. Mrs Brooks has a serious medical condition and is on immunosuppressant drugs. The couple’s youngest child has a rare form of epilepsy which is triggered by illness and, in particular, fever. Their two older children have gone into school whenever case numbers have been low, but have stayed at home when the risks have been higher to protect their vulnerable family members. 
 
Until recently, the children’s respective headteachers supported this. But now Solihull Council is demanding that all children are back in school, and the Brooks family say they have been told to send their children back in or face fines – or potentially even prosecution. A week later, there was a Covid outbreak in their infant school, but the threat of fines hasn’t been withdrawn.
 
Good Law Project believes that, if Solihull Council has acted as the schools allege, it has acted unlawfully. 
 
Jo Maugham, Director of Good Law Project, said: 
“The regulations are clear: absences can be approved by schools for children or families with clinical vulnerabilities. The local authority does not have the power to involve itself in those decisions, or to issue blanket guidance seeking to tie schools’ hands. We are supporting the Brooks family in challenging Solihull Council’s actions. We think some things are more important than attendance stats.”