Vulnerable children are slipping through the net as local authorities struggle to identify children missing from education, according to a survey by Ofsted.
The report, which surveyed 15 local authorities, found problems were due to schools failing to follow procedures for exclusions and a lack of communication between independent and state schools. Academies did not consistently communicate with local authorities when children were at risk of going missing.
Local authorities said pupils taken off roll by schools prematurely or without the children’s specific cases considered, were particular issues. Problems in this area arose around young carers who failed to respond to enquiries concerning their whereabouts and those returning from custodial sentences.
A further issue concerned Gypsy/Roma and traveller children who would be removed from school rolls while their families travelled, leaving no place for these children on their return.
Ofsted recommended the government strengthen the role of local authorities in deciding which children were removed from a school’s roll and when, in order to safeguard those who could be vulnerable.
The inspectorate highlighted transitional times for children – whether moving between boroughs or graduating from primary to secondary school – as periods for local authorities to monitor.
Authorities with the best record in this area were those that worked closely with health professionals to identify local children who were not being educated.
“Local authorities and their partners need to share information effectively and more systematically to identify children and young people who are missing from education, particularly when their whereabouts are unknown,” said Patrick Leeson, Ofsted’s director for education and care.