LABOUR’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Worcester has pledged to ‘put education at the heart of national life’.
Tom Collins spoke as new figures show an estimated 2,151 youngsters will miss half their time at school in Worcestershire by 2026.
Party analysis has shown between 2016 and 2022, the number of children missing half their lessons increased 263 per cent in Worcestershire.
A child is deemed persistently absent if they miss 10 per cent of lessons or more. They are classed as severely absent if they miss 50 per cent of lessons or more.
Over the course of a year missing 10 per cent of lessons would equate to four weeks’ worth of schooling. Missing half is the equivalent of missing four months of school.
Labour’s plan includes a new Register of Home-Schooled Pupils to keep track of those not in mainstream schooling.
Among the other measures is an increase in mental health support through dedicated counsellors in every secondary school.
The party has also pledged universal free breakfast clubs for every primary school pupil in England to boost attendance.
Research from the Centre for Social Justice has revealed more than one in four parents think that school isn’t essential every day.
Mr Collins said: “Too many children here in Worcester are missing school. Mental health is a major cause.
“We need better and earlier support for children outside school – and we need more support within schools too.
“Labour understands the reality of life for families with children who are struggling.
“We are ready to take action to make sure every child has access to the education they deserve. We’ll improve support in and out of school, and we’ll focus on early intervention.”