Igniting Change: Labour’s Passionate Push for a Register to Tackle School Absence Crisis

In a fervent bid to combat persistent absenteeism and prioritise the future of our children, the Labour Party is gearing up for a formidable opposition day debate. The motion aims to propel legislation for a groundbreaking register of children not in school, breathing life into plans to address the alarming rates of absenteeism that have plagued our educational landscape.

Recent Labour analysis has uncovered a staggering truth: “one in three children currently sitting their GCSEs have missed nearly three months of secondary school since the pandemic.” This shocking revelation underscores the urgent need for action, as the impact on academic attainment becomes increasingly evident. Labour is poised to take control of the parliamentary order paper, unleashing a powerful debate motion that seeks to enact the Children Not in School (National Register) Bill.

This groundbreaking measure, encompassing home-schooled children, has garnered widespread support across party lines, extending its influence beyond the hallowed halls of parliament. It’s a proposal that resonated in earlier government legislation, the schools white paper, which unfortunately faced a two-year hiatus. Now, Labour is rekindling the flame of this crucial initiative, determined to address the pressing issue of children not on the school roll.

Despite the absence of this critical legislation in recent governmental speeches, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Bridget Phillipson, declares there’s no time to waste. She champions the motion as the first step in Labour’s ambitious long-term plan to tackle persistent absence head-on, standing resolute in the face of a crisis that threatens the very fabric of our educational system.

Labour’s vision for a compulsory national register of home-schooled children is a testament to their commitment to change. Phillipson, who announced this groundbreaking measure earlier this month, outlines Labour’s comprehensive plans to combat the “frankly terrifying” levels of pupil absence in England post-pandemic. This visionary proposal places a legal duty on councils to maintain a register of all children not in school, demanding parents to provide vital information about their child’s education at home.

Under Labour’s unwavering plans, each child in England would be assigned a unique number, forging connections across school records, health visitor data, and council databases. This innovative approach aims to ensure no child slips through the gaps, offering a holistic view of their educational journey.

The motion, set to be presented on Tuesday, condemns the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, for the perceived failure to address the persistent school absence crisis. It calls on the government to immediately introduce legislation amending the Education Act 1996, establishing a mandatory duty on local authorities in England to maintain a register of eligible children not in school.

Phillipson passionately asserts, “Conservative MPs…have failed to deliver.” Labour, seizing the opportunity to turn pledges into action, is providing the government with a chance to honor its commitment to legislate on a register “in the very short term.”

As the battle for educational reform intensifies, Labour’s unwavering dedication to tackling the crisis of persistent school absence shines as a beacon of hope. The motion represents more than a parliamentary debate; it symbolises a resolute call for change, demanding action to ensure that no child is left behind in the pursuit of knowledge and a brighter future.

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