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Severely Absent Pupils

Volume 715: debated on Monday 23 May 2022

16. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department’s steps to help return severely absent pupils to school. (900175)

My schools White Paper and new attendance guidance set out how we expect schools and local authorities to support severely absent pupils so that they can attend regularly. We also recently launched a live data trial for schools, trusts and local authorities, enabling them to target support at pupils who need it most.

My right hon. Friend rightly says that he is driven by the data, and I thank him for the work he is doing to try to get these children back to school. The Centre for Social Justice suggests that 13,000 children in critical exam years were severely absent in the autumn term 2020, and FFT Education Datalab suggests that 5% of pupils were severely absent from September to May this year. What data are the Government collecting on children in exam years who have been severely absent, and what is being done to bring them back to school and to ensure that they get targeted tuition through the catch-up programme?

I am delighted to confirm that, as my right hon. Friend knows, we are bringing forward legislative measures to establish a local authority registration system, but that is for the future. Those GCSE, AS-level and A-level students sitting exams this year have been given advance information to help them focus, and to give them the confidence to come in and take exams this year. We are also working to make sure that the alliance of national leaders across education is doing everything it can to deal with persistent absenteeism, and to make sure that all children are in school, which is the best place for them to be.