He was the man on the school board and the children were afraid of him.
In Birmingham, where the truancy was known as “wagging”, they called him Charlie Wag.
His job was to gather the children by jumping out of school and take them home to face the anger of their parents.
This happened in the post-war years, when family discipline could be slow but attendance in class was compulsory and the Board Man imposed it.
He has long gone, but the government seems to want to bring him back when schools fully recover in September.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday decreed that school will be compulsory for all ages.
Parents who don’t respect fines unless there is a “good reason” for absence.
Who will define it and who will be responsible for enforcement when the coronavirus can still chase the earth?
Teachers will not act like 21st century Charlie Wags and advice cannot go around every house, uprooting recalcitrant moms and dads and dragging little John and Mary into class.
The partial reopening of the school in England does not work because parents fear the spread of Covid-19. Only about a third of the 6th year children have attended elementary school, and even less in the Reception and in the 1st year they do so.
During the pandemic, non-compliance fines were lifted. School leaders ask for “a grace period” before fines go into effect.
They are right.
Building trust in our education system is more important than ministers pushing a child behind every desk.