Government plans to deduct truancy fines directly from child benefits could cause financial hardship for families without solving the problem, the the National Union of Teachers warned on Monday.
The warning comes as behaviour tsar Charlie Taylor called for head teachers to impose a fine of £60 - a £10 increase on current levels - on parents whose children miss too much school without offering a valid reason.
If they fail to pay within 28 days, the fine would double to £120 and automatically taken from their child benefit.
Families who do not receive child benefit and fail to pay the penalty would face court action.
Mr Taylor, commissioned by Education Secretary Michael Gove last year, insisted his plans would tackle the persistent problem of truancy and ensure all pupils attend school regularly.
"Recouping the fines through child benefit, along with other changes to the overall system, will strengthen and simplify the system. It would give head teachers the backing they need in getting parents to play their part," Mr Taylor said.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower acknowledged the negative impact of truancy on schools and pupils education, but she said fining parents was not the answer.
"Deducting money from child benefit will have huge financial repercussions for many families. Having less money for food and bills will simply create a whole new set of problems," she warned.
"Parents need to be part of the solution and not be further alienated from the education of their children. We need properly resourced support systems, run by the local authority, which schools can call upon to deal with hard core truancy.
"With local authority budgets being so extensively cut this is increasingly difficult to achieve and is a refection of the short-sightedness of this government's policies.
"Replacing the repetitive test and targets culture of our schools with a relevant and flexible curriculum would certainly help to ensure all pupils remained engaged in education."
Fines for school absence were introduced as a last resort measure against truancy in 2004 by Labour and the levels of the fines have not been revised since then.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
George Osborne's advice from the International Monetary Fund is like the curate's egg - good in parts.
Wales TUC president sets out the achievements of Welsh workers over the past year - and looks to the battles ahead
Interview with Jeremy Scahill, author of a chilling new exposé of the US's worldwide war without end