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Labour: Ofsted will review absence in safeguarding checks

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.

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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