A report by The National Children’s Bureau looks at families who have experiences of children missing education.
A child missing education is currently defined as ‘children who are not on a school roll and are not receiving education elsewhere’.
The research aims to gain a better understanding of which children are missing education, the reasons why and how they can be best supported to return.
Drawn from in-depth interviews with 17 families, it finds the reasons for children being out of education to be complex and often overlapping across various factors such as a child’s feelings, family and home life, school and wider systems and society.
For example, a child felt unsupported by their school in relation to bullying, mental health and special educational needs and disabilities, their family was in crisis and couldn’t prioritise getting a school place or families may also have only recently moved into the country.
While missing school, children frequently reported feeling bored and lonely, with some experiencing a fear of returning to a school environment after prolonged periods away. Older children were at risk of sexual exploitation. Carers’ poor experiences at school also affected decisions about their child’s education.
Local authorities that took part in the research felt policy on children missing education was getting vaguer, while data protection limited the sharing of information to trace children. They were also concerned about issues like illegal or unofficial exclusion and budget cuts, particularly to Education Welfare services to support children to receive an education, while some schools are struggling to meet the needs of children with SEND or mental ill health.
The NCB report makes the following recommendations:
- A wider definition of “children missing education”, to include those technically on a school roll but who are not accessing full-time education (including where they’ve been illegally excluded)
- Resources for schools and local authorities to identify children at risk of dropping out and to help them to return.
- Better data collection at local and national level and clear duties to share information between agencies to make sure children are getting the support they need.
Access the Children Missing Education: Families’ Experience Report and summary
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