Ofsted will review absence during safeguarding checks, says Labour

Bridget Phillipson will also announce a Labour government will use AI to spot trends in attendance

Bridget Phillipson will also announce a Labour government will use AI to spot trends in attendance

Bridget Phillipson

A Labour government will use artificial intelligence to spot trends in pupil attendance and ask Ofsted to look at absence as part of annual safeguarding reviews of schools.

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, said she would be setting out Labour’s “long-term plan for our schools” this week. This includes plans to tackle persistent absence, as almost a quarter of pupils now miss at least a day a fortnight.

However, most of the proposals due to be outlined during an address to the Centre for Social Justice think tank tomorrow morning have already been announced by the party.

These include plans to legislate for a register of children not in school, funding for schools to deliver early language support, mental health counsellors in every secondary school, curriculum reform and breakfast clubs.

Labour pledged last year to pilot the expansion of a “children’s number” – an identifier like the NHS number that would stay with pupils throughout their childhoods – to address the “disconnect” between information provided to different services.  

Today, the party said this would allow it to use AI to “spot trends in absence” and “improve coordination between education, social care and the wider services that support families, while busting bureaucracy for parents”.  

Spot checks ’empower’ Ofsted to check absences

Labour has also announced plans to scrap Ofsted grades and replace them with “report cards” on schools, with annual safeguarding “spot checks”.

These checks would “empower” Ofsted to review absences, the party said today.

Phillipson will also talk tomorrow about her broader vision for education and her experience of schooling under the last Labour government.

Generic Ofsted logo

She will tell delegates that “standards is my story” and pledge to rebuild trust between schools, families and government.

The party said she would also describe a “new era of shared responsibility for driving school improvement Labour in government would usher in, making parents, the Department for Education, local authorities, Ofsted, trade unions ‘partners in the push for better’.”

“The difference a Labour government will bring is clear: as in 1964, as in 1997, a party that puts children first, a government that makes education its priority. A country where education is about excellence for everyone, where schools deliver high and rising standards for all our children.

“The vision Labour has for education is at once simple, and powerful. That for each of us, and for all of us, background must be no barrier to opportunity. That the future is something we shape together, not face alone. That our best days are not long gone, but yet to come.”

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  1. Sandy Cameron

    “A country where education is about excellence for everyone, where schools deliver high and rising standards for all our children.”

    Same old, same old, and no different from the Tories. Instead of prioritising enforcement and support for the most “vulnerable” to attend schools that children don’t want to attend, prioritise curriculum, teaching and exam reform. Make what schools offer more engaging, the environment more welcoming, the culture more inclusive, the “standards” more accessible to the neurodiverse.

    Come on Labour, do something exciting for a change!

  2. Because Ofsted need more power to wield over schools?

    The reason so many more students have attendance issues is most probably connected to the same reasons teachers can’t/won’t stay in the profession.

    Fix the system and we’ll all turn up each day.

  3. Phil Yeadon

    As part of a thorough inspection, they already look at absence, the root causes and the procedures school have in place. This is more bull from the politicians. They act like they’re bringing in great change when really they’re just renaming what already happens.

  4. What needs to happen is more mental health awareness in nurseries and primary schools and that poor attendance is very often related to trauma children have experienced from being exposed to domestic abuse, parental mental health and parental substance misuse. We need more emphasis on tackling childhood mental health because children who have or are experiencing trauma at home will continue to struggle getting into school let alone managing to achieve academic progress. All schools should have a mental health policy as they do for safeguarding because unresolved trauma and mental health can continue throughout the child’s life into adolescence and beyond causing irreparable damage and very often, and sadly suicide. Although mental health in schools is being addressed we still need much more investment to support every single child and realise that children’s behaviour very often reflects how they are feeling yet they are punished by being excluded or sent to alternative provision schools. Every parent should be given the opportunity to engage in parenting classes because it is the most important job, raising children to feel valued, understood, listened to, loved, kept safe and warm. We need hundreds more children and family centres, more youth clubs and more opportunities where parents can talk about their struggles of being a parent and feel listened to and we need to reward parents who do get their kids into school so let’s start celebrating and rewarding rather than punishing and blaming.