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Time to Tackle Persistent Absence in Schools

Judith has highlighted a huge increase in school absence.

Between 2016 and 2023, there has been a 260% increase in the number of persistently absent students in Bradford South, with a shocking 2,586 pupils missing at least half of their school sessions – compared to just 713 in 2016.


The Centre for Social Justice has described an emerging generation of ‘ghost children’ who had not returned to school following the pandemic, putting them at a significant educational disadvantage and increasing safeguarding risk.


Speaking in Parliament this week, Judith said:


‘We need a coherent strategy for tackling persistent absence, which includes a new register for home schooling to keep track of these absent pupils.’


Nationally, persistent absence has doubled since 2019, with this trend also linked to wider problems in children’s lives such as poverty or violence at home, or problems with mental illness or disability.


The Labour Party is proposing to break down barriers to opportunity in schools and raise school attendance. This includes a new compulsory national register of home-schooled children, as well as new duties on councils to monitor student absence.


Labour is also proposing the introduction of annual Ofsted safeguarding spot-checks, as well as early language interventions, increased mental health support and universal free breakfast clubs.


Speaking following the debate, Judith said:


‘This Government is letting down a generation of children who are persistently absent from school, and who will therefore suffer the long-term consequences of missing out on vital learning.’


‘It is time to take action to break down the barriers to opportunity which are stopping children in Bradford from achieving the results that they are capable of.’



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