Plans to step up efforts to identify, track and ensure provision for children missing education could be undermined by a lack of resources, practitioners have warned.
Although guidelines on monitoring children missing education or at risk of missing education are currently non-statutory, a legal duty on local authorities to have systems and procedures in place is set to be introduced from 2007.
However, frontline staff involved in implementing the arrangements said concerns around inadequate staffing levels, under-developed IT and databases, insufficient support mechanisms for difficult cases and insufficient alternative provision for those who need it would all become more pressing once the children missing education agenda was put on a statutory footing.
The survey of 129 local autoriites, carried out in March, finds that while almost all have successfully identified a named contact for receiving information about children missing education, only around one in six has an approved written policy on dealing with this group. Only just over a quarter of councils regularly monitor at a senior level the numbers of children missing education in their area.
Respondents also identified a number of “major omissions” in the parties involved in the children missing education agenda, including independent schools and children whose parents chose to educate them at home.