Missing out: the children in danger of becoming 'invisible' to education authorities
Local authorities failing to keep track of up to 10,000 pupils, raising fears of widespread abuse
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Tuesday 19 November 2013
Up to 10,000 children of school age are missing out on full-time education and in danger of becoming "invisible" to the authorities, according to a report by inspectors published today.
The study, from education standards watchdog Ofsted, warned they could more easily become prey to abuse as local authorities failed to keep a track of them.
"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," said chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw in a foreword to the report - Pupils Missing Out On Education.
It found that four out of 15 authorities surveyed did not have a clue as to how much education provision children out of school were receiving. Only five had their finger on the pulse and could tell inspectors immediately the state of provision.
Some of the children concerned had been excluded from school illegally, the report added. The children were sent home from school without heads operating the formal legal exclusion process.
Others included pregnant schoolgirls and children with mental health problems, it added. In one case, a 15-year-old boy had not been receiving full-time education for eight years. Ofsted described the situation as "clearly unacceptable".
In the 15 authorities, a total of 1,400 young people were failing to receive a full-time education - getting between five and eight hours of learning a week. If this was an accurate reflection of the national picture, it would 10,000 children were in this position.
The report recommends putting a full-time official in charge of delivering full-time education for those children not in school.
In addition, it says that - in future - Ofsted will inspect out-of-school provision for vulnerable children itself.
"The best local authorities ensure that no young person in their area slips out of sight," the report adds.
"They are conscientious and determined in communicating with others, understanding that such responsibility does not stop at their local authority's boundaries."
However, it added: "In a number of cases, low expectations of what children and young people could achieve meant the education provided was of poor standard and limited value.
"For example, one young mother had stopped studying for her exams where she had been on track to do very well and, instead, was attending part-time provision for parenting skills."
"Many thousands of children and young people in England do not attend full-time education," concluded Sir Michael. "Too often, children and young people who receive only a part-timer education, or who have none at all, can become invisible to the local authority. This can be a safeguarding as well as an educational matter."
Sarah Lambert, head of policy at the national autistic Society, said: "The report's findings are stark and sobering."
Many parents of autistic children felt they had no option but to educate their children at home because no suitable school provision was available, she added.
She added: "Sadly, when parents take their child out of the school system they often find that their local authority refuses to provide any further educational support to educate their child."
'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
First-time buyers in London 'need to earn at least £77,000'
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
- 1 Technology company Alibaba posts job advert asking for 'stunning' women with qualities of adult film actress Sora Aoi
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...
£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...