More than a third of local authorities are failing to monitor the number of children who are not receiving an education in their area despite a government target requiring them to do so by 2005, a report published today has found.
More than half of councils also do not keep a record of children who have left educational providers without a known destination, according to the study for the Department for Education and Skills.
The DfES set itself a target in 2002 of ensuring that systems were in place to track children missing education by 2005 and issued non-statutory guidance to help authorities in 2004. It intends to introduce a statutory duty to monitor the children from 2007.
The report found only 17 per cent of authorities had agreed a written policy concerning children missing education and just 44 per cent had identified ways that children become missing in their area and put procedures in place to close gaps.
The Metropolitan Police raised concerns about children missing from school last year when it reported that 300 African schoolboys had gone missing from schools in London. Despite international searches, it was only able to trace two of them.
Department for Education and Skills www.dfes.gov.uk