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Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, 38, and Prince William, 38, have spent most of the pandemic in Norfolk at their country home Anmer Hall. The couple relocated there with Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, back in March but are expected to return to the capital with their children any day.
George and Charlotte are both pupils at private school Thomas’s Battersea in South West London.
The school is a short drive from the Kensington Palace apartment where the Cambridges are based during term time.
William and Kate pulled George and Charlotte out of school days ahead of its official closure when schools across the country were made to shut ahead of lockdown.
They were able to do so without bending the rules because Thomas’s is an independent school which is governed separately from the Government.
But as the Government urges all pupils across England to return to school for the autumn term, it has issued a new set of guidelines which the Department for Education says applies to private schools too.
This means that in theory, Kate and William could face a fine if they fail to send George and Charlotte back to school.
Outlining the new guidelines about schools reopening, the Government website states: “It is our plan that all pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term.
“This guidance is intended to support schools, both mainstream and alternative provision, to prepare for this.”
“It applies to primary, secondary (including sixth forms), infant, junior, middle, upper, school-based nurseries and boarding schools.”
The statement added: “We expect independent schools to follow the control measures set out in this document in the same way as state-funded schools.”
Education secretary Gavin Williamson last week announced parents who faily to send their children back to school may face financial penalties.
Speaking on LBC Mr Williamson said: “It is going to be compulsory for children to return back to school unless there is a very good reason or a local spike.
“We have to get back into compulsory education, and as part of that fines sit alongside that.
“Unless there was a good reason for the absence then we would be looking at the fact that we would be imposing fines on families if they were not sending children back.”
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Under usual rules, local authorities can fine parents £120, cut to £60 if paid within three weeks, over a child’s absence from class.
While these fines usually don’t apply to private schools, the new Government guidance states: “We expect independent schools to follow the control measures set out in this document in the same way as state-funded schools”, suggesting that fines could apply to private school parents like Prince William and Kate.
In relation to fines, the new Government guidance states: “Missing out on more time in the classroom risks pupils falling further behind.”
“Those with higher overall absence tend to achieve less well in both primary and secondary school.
“School attendance will therefore be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term.”
“This means from that point, the usual rules on school attendance will apply, including:
- Parents’ duty to secure that their child attends regularly at school where the child is a registered pupil at school and they are of compulsory school age
- Schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence
- The availability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct.”
Kensington Palace declined to comment on whether Prince George and Princess Charlotte would return to school this week.
Express.co.uk has contacted the Department of Education for comment.
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