He was the School Board Man, and children went in fear of him.
In Birmingham, where truancy was known as “wagging”, they called him Charlie Wag.
His job was to round up kids skipping school and take them home to face the wrath of their parents.
This was in the post-war years, when family discipline could be lax yet attendance in class was compulsory and the Board Man enforced it.
He’s long gone, but it sounds like the Government wants to bring him back when schools resume fully in September.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson ruled yesterday that school will be compulsory for all age groups.
Parents who fail to comply face fines unless there is “good reason” for absence.
Who will define this, and who will be responsible for enforcing the regulations when coronavirus may still stalk the land?
Teachers won’t act as 21st century Charlie Wags, and councils can’t go round every home, rooting out recalcitrant mums and dads and dragging little John and Mary off to the classroom.
Partial school reopening in England isn’t working because parents fear the spread of Covid-19. Only about a third of Year 6 children have attended primary school, and even fewer in Reception and Year 1 are doing so.
During the pandemic, fines for non-compliance have been waived. Head teachers are calling for “a period of grace” before fines kick in.
Building up trust in our education system is more important than ministers shoving a child behind every desk.