In October 2017, the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) carried out a Freedom of Information request to establish the number of children missing education in England. We found that 49,187 children were reported as missing education in 2016/17.
Local authorities were asked to provide data on how many of the children missing education in their area were in receipt of free school meals or known to social services. The results suggest a potential link with both poverty and being referred to social services. We found that:
- 15% of children missing education were known to social services; and
- The proportion of CME who were eligible for free school meals when last on a school roll is 9 percentage points higher than average.
To support the launch of the report Lankelly Chase funded us to create animations based on the actual stories of children's lives that lie behind the data on children missing education. You can view them below or on our YouTube channel WatchNCB.
Who are children missing education?
Children missing education (CME) are children of compulsory school age who are not registered pupils at a school and are not receiving suitable education elsewhere.
All children missing education are vulnerable. It is widely accepted that they are likely to under-achieve academically, and evidence suggests they may also be at greater risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect than their peers.
The Government does not collect national-level data on the number of children missing education, meaning the scale of the problem is unknown.
In 2017 NCB received funding from Lankelly Chase to undertake qualitative research into the experiences of children missing education. This research found that a series of complex and often interrelated factors can lead to a child missing education, including:
- The individual child’s feelings and preferences;
- Problems in the family and home;
- The school environment; and
- Wider systems and society.
Our research found that some groups of children are particularly at risk of missing education. These include: frequent movers, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children, disabled children and those with SEN, teenage mothers, young carers, refugees/asylum seekers, children in care and young offenders.