HUNDREDS of school students are set to miss half their lessons by 2026, a Cheshire MP has warned.

Mike Amesbury, MP for Weaver Vale, believes ministers have allowed school absences to “spiral out of control”.

The latest statistics from the Department for Education show the number of children missing half their lessons trebled between 2016 and 2022 across England, with a 254 per cent rise in Cheshire West and Chester.

Labour predicts that more than 200,000 children will miss half their time at school by 2026, including 1,259 locally, if this trend continues.

Mr Amesbury said: “I’m flabbergasted at the scale of the problem.

“Every day of education matters for our children’s life chances. That’s why tackling severe absence would be mission-critical for Labour in government.

“The Conservatives have allowed the persistent absence crisis in school attendance to spiral out of control and have no plan to get children back to school.”

Northwich Guardian: MP Mike AmesburyMP Mike Amesbury (Image: Supplied)

Mr Amesbury’s comments come as the DfE launched a national campaign aimed at improving attendance – Moments Matter, Attendance Counts.

Tackling persistent absence and getting pupils to return to school is a top priority for Education Secretary Gillian Keegan.

She added: “Tackling attendance is my number one priority.

“We want all our children to have the best start in life because we know that attending school is vital to a child’s wellbeing, development, and attainment as well as impact future career success.”

Labour has responded by setting out its own action plan, which would involve using AI to spot absence trends, providing universal free breakfast clubs for every primary school pupil in England, and mental health counsellors in every secondary school.

Mr Amesbury added: “Labour’s long-term plan will tackle the reasons children are out of class, with mental health counselling, breakfast clubs and a register of home-schooled children, funded by ending tax breaks for private schools.”