HEADTEACHERS should pick up absent kids and drag them to school, the education secretary said this morning.
Gillian Keegan stressed heads have a “duty” to try and do all they can to drive up attendance rates and help struggling pupils.
Gillian Keegan said headteachers ‘have a duty’ to drive to the homes of absent pupils and bring them to schoolAlamy
And she said she would drive around herself and pick up kids in the car if she could.
A staggering 125,000 pupils spent more time out of class than in, recent figures revealed.
And there are 94,900 children missing education completely – not registered at school or receiving home education, during the 2021/22 year.
And more kids are being diagnosed with anxiety around going to school since the lockdowns.
Ms Keegan told Sky she would “pick them up myself” when asked how best to engage with missing pupils who have dropped out of education since the Covid pandemic.
Asked if it was a good use of a headteachers’ time to pick a pupil up from home, Mrs Keegan said: “They [headteachers] do have a duty. We all have to play our part. Sometimes you have to go [to the home] or sometimes you have to text the parent in the morning. Sometimes you just have to do whatever is possible.
“That’s not what we want headteachers doing all of their days. But to be honest, right now, if that works to get somebody in school, it’s worth it.
“I’d go pick them up myself if I could.”
Ministers are also planning to make councils and schools create mandatory registers of kids who aren’t attending school regularly.
And as kids break off for summer, she said there is a window of opportunity to try and support parents ahead of the return in September.
She added: “We’ve got a window of opportunity where we’re really trying to bring together mentors, attendance hubs, local authorities, schools, and families to work to get children back into school and to reduce the barriers.”
It comes as teachers strikes were called off yesterday thanks to a bumper pay deal for next year.
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Unions agreed to ditch their walkouts and put the new offer to their members in a rare breakthrough.
They issued a joint statement between unions and the government in an usual peace deal.
Absent pupils are a huge worry for ministersAlamy
Ministers and unions struck a pay deal yesterday for teachersGetty