The government has been urged to take urgent action to help identify and support the thousands of children who drop out of education, often for months or years at a time.
NCB has published a report which highlights a Freedom of Information (FOI) request carried out in 2014 which estimated that over 14,800 children were missing education across England at any one time and the whereabouts of approximately 3,000 of these children were unknown.
Worryingly, no national data is collected on these children, the NCB warns.
The charity warns that children missing education are often vulnerable – many have tough family circumstances and may have special educational needs too. Missing school further undermines their future education and employment prospects and deprives them of a protective environment, meaning they are more at risk of falling into crime, or suffering abuse or exploitation.
Problems like being bullied at school, suffering challenges at home, and having special educational needs, can often combine to cause a child to miss out on education, often for substantial periods of time. Children who miss education often face multiple challenges, ranging from special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and mental health issues, to neglect and domestic violence.
Some children were missing out on school because:
“What is clear from the report is that too many children can’t access their basic right to an education. Cash-strapped schools and local authorities must have the resources they need to help vulnerable children stay in school and help them return when they’re ready,” says the report.
The report calls for:
Debbie Barnes, Chair of the ADCS’s Educational Achievement Policy Committee, said: “The report rightly recognises that children go missing from education for many different reasons, but this can be the first sign of vulnerability to all forms of abuse and neglect, including sexual exploitation or radicalisation.
“Current legislation does not enable local authorities to safeguard vulnerable learners or to ensure that they receive a suitable education, for example, we do not always know when children have fallen off the radar as there is no requirement on some schools, including ‘illegal’ schools, or on parents/carers of children being electively home educated to provide any information or evidence of the quality of their pupils’ educational experiences or of their health and wellbeing.
“This is an area of pressing concern for all directors of children’s services as it reduces our ability to ensure that learners are safe and receiving a well-rounded curriculum that enables them to thrive,” she added.
Ms Barnes said the Association welcomes the recommendations in this report aimed at improving information sharing between local authorities and schools and extending the definition of children missing education, alongside the remit of statutory guidance, to bridge any gaps that currently exist. She added that they would support a duty on schools, including academies, free schools and independent schools, to inform local authorities of all children on a part-time timetable and those in alternative provision and would argue that this should be further extended to include all children not in mainstream education.
“This will help to ensure that no child missing from education goes without the timely and appropriate support that they both need and deserve and that they and their educational outcomes are safeguarded. Without this some children and young people will continue to be hidden from view and their welfare placed at risk,” she concluded.
Social workers are being hit by the cost-of-living crisis both professionally, and personally.
This week the British Association of Social Workers has warned that “the cost-of-living crisis is a crisis for social workers”.
While social workers frequently witness the impact of rising energy bills and increased living costs on the people they work with, they are [...]
Inspirational, positive role models, game-changing in terms of equality and raising expectations for young girls – these are just some of the accolades that have been lauded at England’s female football team since their Euro 2022 win on Sunday.
The sensational victory of the England women’s football team at Euro 2022 has inspired many young [...]
Over half of foster carer respondents to a recent survey said they are considering giving up fostering due to the impact of the cost of living crisis.
More than 1,000 foster carers took part in the FosterWiki cost of living crisis survey and 89% said they are having to cut back on money spent on [...]