Kensington & ChelseaNews

Pupil absenteeism rife in Kensington and Chelsea, but council seeks to downplay severity

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

More than half of state-funded schools in Kensington and Chelsea reported students missing 50 per cent or more of the spring and autumn terms in 2022/23.

Some 122 primary and secondary schools registered pupils as severely absent, Department for Education (DfE) data has shown, while every school said a student missed 10 per cent or more of classes.

Kensington Aldridge Academy in Notting Hill clocked the most students missing out half or more of spring and autumn classes at 26, followed closely by Holland Park school at 26 and All Saints Catholic College at 19.

The same three schools registered the highest number of pupils missing out on 10 per cent of classes. Holland Park had 323, Kensington Aldridge Academy 231 and All Saints Catholic College at 198.

Two of these – Kensington Aldridge Academy and All Saints Catholic College – were handed an Outstanding rating by Ofsted. All Saints received theirs in November 2022 while Kensington Aldridge hasn’t been inspected since December 2017.

These schools did not fare the worst when it came to comparing the percentage of students absent, because of their sheer size of enrolments.

That prize went to Barlby Primary School in North Kensington at 4.5 per cent (14 pupils), followed by St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School at 3.9 per cent (seven pupils) and Ashburnham Community School with 3.2 per cent (five students).

The data, which is only for two of three terms and excludes special needs schools, shows 168 students in the borough missed out on half of their lessons. That number jumps to 2,362 students missing 10 per cent of classes or more.

Labour’s Joe Powell, who is running for the parliamentary seat of Kensington and Bayswater, said school absenteeism was a “serious challenge” for families in schools in the borough.

He said: “After 14 years of Conservative-driven decline, the Government is out of ideas, with no plan to tackle the root causes of absenteeism and get children back to the classroom.

“A Labour Government will get a grip on children missing school, prioritising child mental health with a mental health professional in each school, while delivering high and rising standards in our schools.”

Schools contacted directed enquiries about the statistics to the council, which said: “Schools across the borough are working hard with families, partner services and the council to continue to increase attendance levels.

“National school attendance reduced following the pandemic and has remained an area of challenge. The latest validated attendance rates in Kensington and Chelsea are slightly above national rates and are in line with inner London comparison data.”

The council said of a visit by DfE advisors in 2023: “It was positive, highlighting effective mitigation strategies to improve attendance in the borough, including multi-agency approaches led by Early Help to tackle challenging cases, effective in-school systems and best practice sharing between schools.”

Top five schools where students missing out on 50 per cent or more of classes in 2022/23: Kensington Aldridge Academy – 27 pupils; Holland Park School – 26 pupils; All Saints Catholic College – 19 pupils.

Pictured top: One of the schools facing challenges: Kensington Aldridge Academy (Picture: Google Street View)

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