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School Attendance

Volume 601: debated on Monday 26 October 2015

Reducing absence from school is a top priority for this Government, and good attendance is clearly linked to attainment. There are 200,000 fewer pupils regularly missing school compared with when we began our reforms in 2010, but we need to do more to ensure that all children, regardless of their background or where they come from, are attending school regularly, because even short absences can damage a child’s education and life chances.

I recently visited the Caradon alternative provision academy in Liskeard, in my constituency. It provides education for young people who have been permanently excluded or are in intervention programmes, and it is achieving fantastic results. Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating the academy and consider visiting to see the fantastic work it does?

My hon. Friend is right. Every child, regardless of background or the problems they face, deserves the opportunity to develop their knowledge, skills and values to prepare them for life in modern Britain. Alternative provision academies, such as Caradon, play a crucial role in ensuring that pupils who cannot currently be educated in a mainstream school continue to receive a good education. I would be delighted to visit the school with her and to congratulate the staff at the academy on their achievements and professionalism.

Poor attendance, as well as extremely poor educational attainment, is a feature of the most recent Ofsted inspection at the Voyager academy in Walton, Peterborough, which is managed by the Comberton academy trust. May I encourage the Minister and the Secretary of State to use their powers to intervene on this first wave academy to replace Comberton with a much more suitable academy trust for the benefit of pupils in my constituency and beyond?

We take very seriously the performance of multi-academy trusts and the trustees’ oversight of academies, and the regional school commissioners will be looking at my hon. Friend’s case, as they do all issues of poor performance by academies within multi-academy trusts.