Too many children with mental ill health are missing out on full or part time education, a new Ofsted report has revealed.
The report, titled Pupils missing out on education, found that often the most vulnerable children are either missing out on full-time education or not getting the part-time education they are entitled to.
It also found that too many local authorities do not know how much education some pupils, such as excluded children and those with mental and physical health needs who do not attend school in the usual way, receive.
The report also found that some local authorities are failing to properly arrange and monitor the effectiveness of education for children directly in their care. Only a third of the local authorities visited kept a close enough eye on these children and gather information and analyse it centrally.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, HM Chief Inspector of Ofsted said: “As my Access and Achievement report highlighted in June, there can be no greater responsibility than to ensure our most vulnerable children have the best chance of a decent education.
“It is simply not acceptable that only a third of local authorities have a detailed understanding of what is happening to pupils who are not receiving full-time education.
“Everyone must take greater responsibility for knowing where these children are. We owe it to them to ensure they are safe and can succeed.”
The report makes a number of recommendations to local authorities, including to:
• Establish a central record of children not accessing full-time education, including those who are accessing alternative provision full-time away from mainstream school
• Share information across local authority boundaries and other agencies
• Ensure every child is on the school register, regardless of circumstances, unless parents and carers have decided to educate their children at home.
It also makes recommendations for schools saying they should:
• Stop unlawful exclusions
• Inform local authorities of any part-time education arrangements
• Respond quickly to any early signs of children and young people’s raised anxiety or dips in their progress, attendance or learning.
Concern for mental health
Barbara McIntosh, from the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, said: “It is disheartening to hear that so many vulnerable children and young people are missing out on their education. There is a strong link between a child’s emotional wellbeing and academic achievement, therefore having no or very little formal education has been shown to impact on a child’s ability to achieve their overall potential in life.
“We are particularly concerned that children and young people with mental health problems, especially those accessing community mental health services are missing out on their education. Children and young people with mental health problems often need additional support to enable them to attend and make the most of their time at school. Schools need to work in partnership with local authorities and health services to understand and address these needs. The new duties under the Children and Families Bill that encourage integrated working should help address this issue.”