‘Just a statistic on a page?’ 170 children missing from school in Buckinghamshire

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Lowering this figure is said to be a top priority for the council

A total of 170 children are missing from education in Buckinghamshire, according to newly published data.

The missing children are not the subject of police missing people inquiries but are children who have moved school, moved abroad or to a different local authority, Gareth Drawmer, Buckinghamshire Council’s head of achievement and learning explained at a meeting.

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The updated total of children missing from education as of May 2023 was included in the Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Annual Report 2022-2023, which was presented at the children’s and education select committee on 2 November.

Gareth Drawmer, photo from Charlie Smith Local Democracy ServiceGareth Drawmer, photo from Charlie Smith Local Democracy Service
Gareth Drawmer, photo from Charlie Smith Local Democracy Service

Councillor Sue Lewin asked the committee what steps were being taken to find the missing children, adding, “Or are they just a statistic on a page?”

Mr Drawmer replied: “We carry out regular checks through housing, health and a whole variety of other statutory agencies to try and identify where those children have moved to.

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“We are able to close most of those cases down very rapidly.”

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The council official said that the “vast majority” of the missing children were those who have “gone off-roll within the last six weeks”.

He claimed that there was a “small rump” of missing children which the council keeps on its list until it can identify them, or they turn 18 years old.

The spokesperson added: “The vast majority are found.”

The report stated that children missing out on education was one of the councils’ top five priorities in 2022/23.