Agenda item

CHILDREN MISSING FROM EDUCATION

Under Section 436A of the Education and Inspections Act 1996 all local authorities have a statutory responsibility to “make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children residing in their area who are not receiving a suitable education. In relation to children, by ‘suitable education’ we mean efficient full-time education suitable to her/his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.”

 

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services will present a report (Document “S”) on Children Missing from Education including information on Unregistered Schools and Elective Home Education.

 

Recommended -

 

That Overview and Scrutiny Committee receive and note this report on matters relating to Children Missing Education, Elective Home Education and Unregistered Schooling.

 

(Marium Haque – 01274 431078)

Decision:

Resolved-

 

That the Committee notes the report and expresses grave concerns regarding the lack of intervention powers available to the Local Authority and the potential safety and educational attainment of those children missing from education.

 

                                                                        (Marium Haque – 01274 431078)

Minutes:

Under Section 436A of the Education and Inspections Act 1996 all local authorities have a statutory responsibility to “make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children residing in their area who are not receiving a suitable education. In relation to children, by ‘suitable education’ we mean efficient full-time education suitable to her/his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.”

 

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services  presented a report (Document “S”) on Children Missing from Education including information on Unregistered Schools and Elective Home Education.

 

Members made the following comments:

 

·         How confident was the service that every child had been identified?

·         What work was being undertaken with new arrivals and traveller communities?

·         What discussions were taking place with parents before they chose to elect for home education?

·         Concerned that there was no statutory right to inspect children being home schooled.

·         Some schools were forging registers to make their attendance figures look good; schools were not recording data correctly.

·         Why did some schools see larger numbers of children being taken off their rolls?

·         How do parents know what rights they had? Should the information be in the school admissions booklet.

·         Some parents could not afford uniforms and children were sent home from school if they did not arrive to school in the correct uniform.

·         Was the service aware of any unregistered schools?

·         Future reports could include information on ethnicity and gender.

·         Concerned over the authority’s lack of power to make sure children who were home schooled  were receiving a good education.

In response to the comments raised by Members it was reported that:

 

·         Some parents elected for home education, registering for home education was voluntary.

·         There was a whole team dedicated to new arrivals/traveller communities.

·         42 school attendance orders were being pursued; needed to ensure children attend school.

·         Work was on going with a particular school to work with parents to ensure they are fully aware of responsibility of home education.

·         The authority would look into cases where they had been informed of school attendances being forged.

·         Some families took children out of school because they had “fallen out” with the school; others may be trying to avoid paying fines for poor attendance, and some were not happy that they had not been allocated their first choice school.

·         The Department of Education website provided information on parents rights.

·         Any parent who elected for home education could choose for their child to go back into school at any time; the Fair Access Protocol was being revised; would be looking at doing a leaflet for parents to explain that.

·         Should not be discriminating against poor families because they could not afford uniforms; would be supporting schools that could have separate badges that could be sown onto uniforms; pupil premium could be used and the school could show that barriers were being removed by using the premium in this way.

·         The service was not aware of any unregistered schools; there were some established alternative providers who were supported where necessary.

·         The Council had very little intervention powers for children that were home schooled; because of these limiting powers and the fact that some families did not register when they home schooled children there was no way to know the exact number of children in the district who were being educated at home.

Resolved-

 

That the Committee notes the report and expresses grave concerns regarding the lack of intervention powers available to the Local Authority and the potential safety and educational attainment of those children missing from education.

 

Action:           Interim Strategic Director, Children’s Services

 

                                                                       

Supporting documents: