A leading children’s charity is calling on the government to take urgent action to identify children who are not being educated, either at school or at home.
The National Children’s Bureau is demanding resources to help track and support children who drop out of education for months or years at a time. The charity estimates that there could be tens of thousands of such children.
It has called on the government to:
- extend the definition of “children missing education”, so that it includes those who are still on a school roll, but are not accessing education;
- provide resources for schools and local authorities to identify children at risk of dropping out of school, and help them to return;
- collect better data at local and national level to help identify these children;
- share information between agencies, to ensure that children are receiving the support they need.
Its new report, Missing Education, also highlights case studies of children who do not attend school or receive an education at home.
Some children missed extensive periods of school, because of family circumstances or mental health problems, or because they are being bullied at school, the report states.
Others were taken out of school by their families, because their parents felt that the school did not have appropriate support to deal with special educational needs or mental health issues.
Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “It’s unacceptable that tens of thousands of children in England can’t access their fundamental right to an education.
“These children are often very vulnerable. Away from the safety and security of school, they’re more at risk of abuse and exploitation, and are missing out on support for special educational needs and mental-health problems.”