There are now almost 2 million students who are regularly missing school. These are, what we might call, The ‘lost’ children.
Of course, there are some children whose families have chosen to home educate them. Some have no roots and are constantly moving, such as the traveller community and some never returned to full time education after the pandemic.
But, the worrying fact is that there are children who are falling through the net. For whatever reason, they’re not attending school and could be at risk. Schools monitor children quietly and consistently and are trained to spot safeguarding issues. For as long as these children aren’t in school, they are hidden and vulnerable.
It goes without saying that missing education can impact on exams and employment in the future and some students, having not coped particularly well with mainstream school, find an alternative which works for them. This is to be applauded and not an easy route to follow.
There are a host of alternatives out there for children who need a different kind of support, but schools are reporting that there are worrying figures that show attendance is low, pointing to the fact that not all have returned to the classroom. It’s where they are and what they’re doing which is the main concern.
I believe we are yet to see the true impact of these ‘lost’ children and it’s worrying that there are no proper records kept of the number of children in one authority. How can they possibly know which ones are under the radar? Surely we need a system to monitor these children? This is not about bringing all children into the mainstream classroom. This is about making sure that all children have a decent education and do not fall into the cracks to be put in harm’s way.