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Number of children ‘missing education’ rises a quarter

Almost 120,000 children were “missing” from education at some point last year, an increase of almost a quarter.

Children missing education is an official designation for those who are “not registered pupils at a school and are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school”.

Data published by the government today suggests 117,100 children were considered to be missing educaiton at some point in 2022-23, up from 94,900 the year before.

Six per cent of children missing education have an education, health and care plan for special needs, compared to 4 per cent of pupils nationally. They are also more than twice as likely to have a child protection plan.

For those missing education on census day last October, moving out of the country was the primary reason in 11 per cent of cases, and moving out of a local authority area was the main factor in 9 per cent.

But for 8 per cent of cases, the child was awaiting the outcome of a school application, and 6 per cent related to “unsuitable” home education. It is the first time primary reasons data has been collected.

Mental health and dissatisfaction driving home education

It comes as home education data published by the government today shows more parents are citing children’s mental health and general dissatisfaction with school as the primary reason for choosing to educate their children at home.

A Schools Week investigation last week revealed how the rate at which children left the classroom for home education doubled last year, with big increases in some of the country’s most deprived areas.

And while home education was previously seen primarily as a lifestyle choice, parents are now increasingly withdrawing their children because they feel the school system has failed them.

The proportion of cases for which mental health was cited as the primary reason has gradually increased from 9 per cent in autumn 2022 to 13 per cent last autumn. General dissatisfaction increased from 6 to 8 per cent.

Philosophical reasons remains the main primary reason, cited in 16 per cent of cases.

Of those in home education on census day last October, 19 per cent were in year 11, 16 per cent in year 10 and 14 per cent in year 9. In comparison, just 3 per cent were in year 1.

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