The number of children in need has risen to its highest level on record, with teachers referring increasing numbers of pupils for support, according to new government figures.
More than 404,700 children were in need of protection as of 31 March, up 4 per cent from the year before and an increase of more than 26,000 from 2013, the data shows.
Schools were the second-largest source of referrals after the police, sending more than 119,000 children to social services in the year up to 31 March, up by almost 4,500 compared with the same period in 2016-17.
The majority of referrals were due to domestic violence, followed closely by mental health issues. Problems with trafficking and gangs remained relatively small by comparison, but are rising fast.
In March, the Department for Education called for evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for "children in need", defined as those who have been assessed as needing help by social services.
Schools 'struggling with squeezed budgets'
The consultation is part of a broader effort to look at how the UK’s education system is failing vulnerable children.
The government has also announced plans to transform alternative provision and examine why certain groups, including black Caribbean boys, children with autism and the disadvantaged are more likely to be excluded.
Schools and social services say they are being expected to provide more support for vulnerable children while watching their budgets being squeezed to breaking point.
This week more than 120 children’s charities wrote to prime minister Theresa May to warn that spending cuts have driven schools and support services for young people to “breaking point”.