There are many thousands of vulnerable youngsters in England who are missing from the education system, according to a new report from the education standards watchdog.
Ofsted is warning that local authorities are failing to keep track of up to 10,000 pupils who are not receiving full-time education and are in danger of becoming prey to abuse, The Independent reports.
Four out of the 15 authorities it surveyed did not know how much education children out of school were receiving and only five could immediately give inspectors information on how much tuition they were getting.
“This can be a safeguarding as well as an educational matter,” said chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw. “If no-one in authority knows what education these children and young people receive each week, or whether they even attend, they not only miss out on education but can be vulnerable to abuse.”
Some of the children had been excluded from school illegally, sent home without heads operating the formal legal exclusion process. Others included pregnant school girls and pupils with mental or physical health problems. In one case a 15 year-old boy had not been receiving full-time education for eight years; in another a girl who had been on course to get good exam grades was only given part-time lessons in parenting skills when she left school to have a baby.
The report also looked at councils which were successful in keeping track of young people: “This was not achieved by managerial box-ticking but by a moral purposefulness in everything they did,” the report found. “The best local authorities ensure that no young person in their area slips out of sight. They are conscientious and determined in communicating with others, understanding that such responsibility does not stop at their local authority’s boundaries.”
In future Ofsted will inspect out-of-school provision for vulnerable children and is calling for all schools and authorities to maintain a central record of children who are not in full-time lessons.
Are you shocked at the number of ‘invisible’ children? What should be done to ensure they get a proper education?