Pupils who play truant will be named on official register under plans to boost school attendance by ‘rigorously’ tracking children missing out on full-time education

  • Boris Johnson said the plan would help to ‘raise standards’ and ‘level up’ schools
  • Local authorities will be asked to ‘rigorously’ track data on pupil absenteeism 
  • Money raised from fines on truants’ families will fund anti-absenteeism services
  • It comes after stats showed the truancy rate had doubled in secondary schools

Schoolchildren who persistently skip classes will be named on compulsory registers and their parents warned as part of new measures to raise attendance.

The policy, to be announced in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday, will for the first time create a compulsory register used for tracking truancy in a bid to ‘level up’ education.

The measures will ensure pupils benefit from ‘every possible hour in the classroom’, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said education was ‘at the very heart of this Government’s agenda’.

Mr Johnson continued: ‘We are determined to raise standards in our schools so every child has access to the same opportunities wherever they live, and our brilliant teachers are supported to do what they do best, which is why we’re putting our education ambition into law this week. 

Schoolchildren who persistently skip classes will be named on compulsory registers – with the policy due to be announced in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday

Naming truants on compulsory registers will ensure pupils benefit from ‘every possible hour in the classroom’, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi (pictured) said

‘By giving every child a good education, we’re giving them the opportunity to thrive so they can reach their full potential and secure the jobs needed – this is absolutely vital to our levelling up mission.’

It comes after the Department for Education handed schools new powers to slap fines on the parents and caregivers of persistent truants.  

While previously fines for skipping school helped fund further fines or prosecutions, the money will now be earmarked to support services to prevent truancy.

Truancy fears were stoked in March last year when it was revealed that the rate of absenteeism among secondary school pupils had doubled after the pandemic-period of remote learning, with 9 percent of the school population missing compared with the usual rate of 4.5 percent. 

Local authorities have been told to ‘rigorously track’ children’s attendance data recorded by schools and social services, according to The Telegraph. 

The Schools Bill will also include plans for schools to join multi-academy trusts (MATs), a proposal which has been resisted by education unions, with a strengthened regulatory framework giving greater powers to intervene when they are failing.

A new national funding formula is aimed at distributing cash on a ‘fair and consistent basis’, Ofsted will be given greater powers to crack down on illegally-operating ‘unregistered schools’ and the Teaching Regulation Agency’s ability to investigate misconduct will be strengthened.

As well as the measures on school attendance, in an attempt to make sure children do not slip through the cracks local authorities will be given a duty to provide support to home-schooling families.

Mr Zahawi said: ‘Our new Schools Bill, alongside the Schools White Paper, will create a school system that works for every child, parent and family, bringing every school up to our current best standards.

‘We want every school to be part of an academy trust, enabling teachers to focus on what they do best, meeting the needs of every child.

‘Schools’ approach to attendance is being overhauled to make sure every child gets the benefit of every possible hour in the classroom.

Truancy fears were stoked in March last year when stats showed the truancy rate in secondary schools had doubled following the reopening of classrooms and the end of the Covid era of remote learning

‘In combination, this work will make sure every child has access to an education that they deserve and helps them fulfil their potential.’

Also in the Queen’s Speech, a Higher Education Bill will enable the introduction of the promised lifelong loan entitlement, allowing people to retrain at any point.

Under the plan people can access a loan equivalent to four years of education, £37,000 in today’s fees, that they can use over their lifetime for a range of studies including shorter and technical courses.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: ‘After two years of unprecedented chaos and disruption to children’s education, the Conservatives are obsessing over structures instead of improving children’s experience in the classroom.

‘This Bill contains no plan to support children’s pandemic recovery. No plan to improve teaching and tackle the exodus of school staff from our classrooms.

‘No plan to ensure more young people gain essential qualifications.

‘No plan to give children the broad education that young people, parents and employers want to see.

‘No plan, no ambition, no vision for our children.’

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