Esther McVey, who has campaigned for a national children’s register after she discovered 360 children were missing from schools across Cheshire – wants Government to go further in its plan to tackle the problem.
The Schools Bill, announced today as part of the Queen’s Speech, will require schools across England to publish an attendance policy with compulsory registers for children who are not in the classrooms.
The Tatton MP believes there needs to be a joined up system whereby all pupils are able to be accounted for, to ensure no child fall through the gap and misses out on an education.
She said: “I am pleased Government recognises action is needed to deal with numbers of children not in school. We have a duty of care towards these children and to make sure they are getting a good education but we cannot do that if we do not know where they are. In meetings I have had with education ministers I have been clear this is a nationwide problem and to tackle the problem a joined up approach is needed, whereby the register can be accessed by councils up and down the country.
“Today’s announcement is welcome but I fear it will not go far enough. I will now be looking at the detail and speaking to ministers about this to ensure we get it right and that this register is fit for purpose.”
As legislation passes through each stage in Parliament there is an opportunity for MPs to suggest changes and make amendments to the Bill.
Ms McVey wants the Bill to include a national register which would detail every child of school age to ensure they are receiving a proper education.
She added: “It is not about where a child is being educated, be it school or at home, but for those accessing no educational provision, it is about ensuring no child is left behind or forgotten.”
A Freedom of Information request by Ms McVey to Cheshire Councils last year found there were 305 children recorded as not being in full-time education or accessing alternative educational provisions such as home learning in Cheshire East, and a further 55 young people across Cheshire West.