12,000 students missing from schools
Figures released to the Times Educational Supplement show that nearly 12,000 children are missing from the schools system. The charity, Barnardo's, has warned that thousands of vulnerable youngsters could be at risk of harm.
Large urban areas have the highest numbers of youngsters who are not in schooling.
In Leicester there are 2,611 children not in education, figures released to the Times Educational Supplement revealed.
Nine other local authorities - Birmingham, Kent, Bradford, Brent, Sheffield, Southampton, Doncaster and Westminster - each have more than 360 missing children.
The figures suggest that sixty-nine local councils claim to have no children missing.
Martin Narey, former Barnardo's chief executive, said: "School is somewhere that every child needs to be every day. For many of our most vulnerable young people it is the only stability they know, the only time when a little chaos is taken out of their lives, the only time when they are required to behave reasonably. It is the one place where poor life expectations can be reversed. So for thousands of children - inevitably those most in need of education - to be missing from school is deeply troubling."
Schools have a duty to report back to their local council if a child is absent for 10 or more days continuously. The council then makes inquiries about the child's well-being, and if the youngster cannot be traced they are placed on the list of children missing from education.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: "Local authorities have a legal duty to take all steps possible to establish the identities of children in their area who are not receiving a suitable education.
"We will continue to look at these issues and work closely with schools and other local services to help address them."
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