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Part-time pupils who are overlooked by local authorities risk becoming "vulnerable to abuse", according to the chief inspector of Ofsted.
Sir Michael Wilshaw warned of "invisible" pupils who were unable to attend full-time education and urged "everyone" to take "greater responsibility for knowing where they are".
There are an alarmingly few local authorities who regularly gather and analyse information on the part-time pupils they are responsible for, Ofsted have found.
Inspectors looked at 15 local authorities and found only five actively track children who are unable to attend school full-time.
According to the report:
- Another six authorities were able to gather the information inspectors needed on part-time pupils in that area.
- The remaining four were unable to provide any data at all.
- Schools are not sharing information about their pupils as well as they could be, leading to some children being missed completely or having their learning disrupted.
- 1,400 children and young people are in part-time education across the 15 local authorities Ofsted visited.
- If this pattern was repeated across England, there were 10,000 pupils not in full-time education.
Pupils who do not attend school in the traditional way are at risk of becoming "invisible", Ofsted's chief inspector has warned.
In a report into part-time pupils, Ofsted found many local authorities did not know how much education children who had been permanently excluded, were pregnant or young mothers, those with special educational, physical or mental health needs were getting.
Sir Michael Wilshaw there is "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. Ofsted is shining a spotlight on these failings."