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Bangladesh school for city's absent pupils
Deborah Haile

MANCHESTER education bosses are planning to build a new school - in Bangladesh.

Large numbers of pupils miss weeks of schooling each year because their parents take them to the family homeland.

Now Manchester wants to tackle the issue by setting up a school abroad - at a cost of about £100,000 a year.

The Bangladesh school, expected to be up and running within 12 months, could be followed by others across the world in areas where Manchester children visit in significant numbers.

Youngsters would have to attend every day, which could count towards their attendance record. Lessons would be in line with the National Curriculum, taking advantage of experiences available in the host country.

A class could vary from two to 30, depending on how many people were visiting at the time.

The school will be in the Sylhet region of Bangladesh, 5,000 miles from Manchester but chosen because of its strong links with the city.


Head teachers have welcomed the plans, but Tory MP Graham Brady has condemned "preferential treatment" to one group of children.

Manchester's chief education officer, Mick Waters, said: "People want their children to see their heritage and we should respect that, because we want children to value where their families come from. But we also want them to value their education.

"These trips can sometimes disrupt schooling and can create a hiccup in learning, so when they come back, they have missed lessons and may be out of the routine of learning.

"We need to think of ways to recognise the benefits of visiting another country, at the same time as the importance of learning.

"If children can reach the schools relatively easily, they can turn up and register each day. If it is too far, they could go once or twice a week and then complete work at home."

In the past, attempts have been made to deter families from taking children out of school for trips overseas.

But despite warnings from education officials and campaigns stressing the importance of attending school, the absences have continued.


Ian Fenn, head teacher at Burnage High School – which has a significant number of Bangladeshi pupils – discourages extended trips, but believes the scheme could keep youngsters on track with their studies.

Coun Jeff Smith, Manchester’s executive member for education said: “We are not encouraging people to take their children away in during term time, but we are dealing with the reality that parents do this.

“Early estimates say it could cost up to £100,000 and I think this may be a price worth paying.”

Plans are at an early stage and it has not yet been decided whether all, some or none of the money will come from the local education authority.

Joe Langley, of the teaching union NASUWT, said: “This sounds like a great idea, but it is very ambitious.”

But Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West, said: “It is very worrying if the local authority is using taxpayers’ money to provide preferential treatment for one group of children over another.

“All children should be expected to attend school during the compulsory school year regardless of their family or ethnic background.

“There may be families who would wish to take their children to enjoy the sunshine in Spain or Tenerife for three months – and of the year. it would be absurd to expect special facilities for them to do that."
Is it me or is this crazy? Seems outrageous that *that* much money could be spent on something which sounds like it's going to have almost zero benefit.
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Report 17 years ago
When I read this is in the Evening News I thought it was some sick april fools joke 9 days too late. It seems like the utter most waste of money ever. I mean take a look round half the primrary schools in Manchester there is plaster falling of the ceiling and everything yet they can build one in Bangladesh its so stupid.
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Report 17 years ago
dat is jst stupid,
ppl r goin der on holiday, dey nt gna *** 2 skool
an isnt bangladesh a big place? dey cud b newhere in d cuntry
its a waste of money, if ppl go abroad termtime an miss out on skool stuff, dens its der own fault
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