Robert Halfon: School absentees storing up problems for decades

Education: Secondary / Sat 8th Oct 2022 at 10:24am

ABSENTEEISM from school is storing up problems for young people for “decades to come”, a senior MP has warned reports the BBC.

Education Select Committee chair Robert Halfon said more than 100,000 “ghost children” had not returned to school since the coronavirus pandemic began.

In March, the committee warned of an “epidemic” of inequality, exacerbated by the loss of learning due to Covid.

The government has a new Schools Bill which is aiming to tighten up attendance.

Mr Halfon told BBC Politics East: “I describe them as the four horsemen of the educational apocalypse galloping towards young people – lost educational attainment, damage to their mental health, damage to their safeguarding and loss of life chances.

“This is going to be with us not just for a few weeks or months, but potentially for decades to come.”

Figures for the East of England show 200,803 pupils have been persistently absent [10% of the time], while 11,313 have been severely absent [off 50% of the time].

Latest figures nationally show school attendance was 80.8% on 21 July, compared to 92.2% in March.

However, some parents argue school is not always the place to educate children, while others say more help is needed to support the individual needs of pupils.

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6 Comments for Robert Halfon: School absentees storing up problems for decades:

David Forman
2022-10-08 12:03:48

Robert Halfon continues his excellent work as Chair of the Education Select Committee.

Mandy Jacobs
2022-10-08 12:44:23

Lets be clear . An extensive plan to tackle education deficits was compiled by educationalist Sir Kevan Collins. His report was accepted by the Education Select Committe. However, Robert Halfon's govt paid cursory lip service to it - basically rejected and refused to make the necessary investment . This is the Conservative response to meeting education needs. They are now thinking of further effectively privatising pre school provision and further along the education journey, pushing for Grammer schools. Parent blaming for non attendance and threatening parents is no answer or fit response to 12 years of under investment in OUR education service .

gary roberts
2022-10-08 14:17:48

I wonder how much Mr. Halfon actually knows about education. I have spoken to some teachers' who suggest he needs to speak directly to them to understand the issues affecting the education system in this country. It is not about touring schools and colleges getting photo's and just talking to headteachers. The engine of the system are the teachers, tutors, teaching assistants, and back up staff that run the system. Add of course the reality of the under staffing of the schools and the budgets and incentives needed to keep them afloat. If he is prepared to address these issues then he might be able to claim he knows about education. Until then he will not sadly.

2022-10-08 15:27:37

Fingers pointing and sneering comments at R H etc; Parents are responsible for ensuring their offspring attend school. From the age groups attending school that I regularly see, it appears that children are having children and appear to be completely incapable of any form of discipline or a sense of responsibility.

2022-10-08 15:31:09


2022-10-09 07:35:41

The education system is out of date. It doesn't inspire children but funnels them in examination factories. Until we have a system fit for purpose, the education of our young then not only will the system fail to produce the highly educated and skilled workforce the country needs it will fail to provide the incentive needed to attract these missing children back into the classroom.

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