Rachel Hopkins MP in Parliament
Rachel Hopkins MP in Parliament

As recent figures reveal that school absences have reached historic levels under the Conservatives, Luton South MP Rachel Hopkins supports Labour’s plan to get children back to school in Luton and across the UK. 

In the 2022/2023 Autumn and Spring term, 23.7% of children in Luton were persistently absent from both primary and secondary school. This is triple the amount who were absent during the same term five years ago. 

In this same period, the national average for persistently absent children was over 20%, that is 1.5 million children absent from both primary and secondary school. 

The government’s failure over the last 14 years has caused absence figures nationally to increase by more than 40%.  

In last night’s Opposition Day Debate Rachel Hopkins MP voted to bring forward legislation for a new register of children not in school. Being in school, learning and making friends, is the best place for every child. This is part of Labour’s broader Plan for Schools which will deliver high and rising standards for every child.  

Their new plan recognises the responsibilities of government in putting in place the support and conditions which children need to thrive throughout their education. Labour will provide universal free breakfast clubs, deliver evidence-based early language intervention and increase mental health support, boosting attendance across the country.   

Labour’s vision for education is simple but powerful, background must be no barrier to opportunity. 

Rachel Hopkins MP, Member of Parliament for Luton South, said:  

“School absences across the UK and in Luton prevent many children from reaching their full potential.   

“Fourteen years of decline and underfunding of schools has shown that the Conservatives’ do not care about improving the lives of other peoples’ children. 

“Labour’s long-term plan will put education at the heart of national life, with mental health counselling, breakfast clubs and a register of home-schooled children, to give our children a bright future once again.” 


Notes to editors: 

Year   England  
2016/17 Autumn and spring term   45,940  
2017/18 Autumn and spring term   50,178  
2018/19 Autumn and spring term   57,167  
2020/21 Autumn and spring term   78,004  
2021/22 Autumn and spring term   110,470  
2022/23 Autumn and spring term   138,905
  • The number of children severely absent trebled across England between 2016 and 2022, with an increase from 192 to 566 in Luton. Source: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/407b7620-9cc6-4f75-4887-08dbdfb23d99
  • Labour’s long-term Plan for Schools will:  
    • Legislate for a new Register of Home-Schooled Pupils to keep track of those not in mainstream schooling as part of a new package of measures to get to grips with persistent non-attendance.  
    • Empower Ofsted to review absence as part of annual safeguarding spot-checks.   
    • Join-up existing records of children with a new number used across education, social care and wider services that support children and families, using AI to spot trends in absence and attendance.  
    • Equipping primary schools with funding to deliver evidence-based early language interventions to ensure every child develops the strong foundation in speech and language development that sets them up to achieve.   
    • Providing universal free breakfast clubs for every primary school pupil in England to boost attendance across the country.   
    • Increasing mental health support through dedicated counsellors in every secondary school and additional support across primary schools alongside delivering mental health hubs in every community.  
    • Reforming the curriculum to deliver a better foundation in reading, writing and maths, while ensuring that children do not miss out on music, sport, art and drama. 
  • A child is deemed persistently absent if they miss 10% of lessons or more. 
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