Agenda item

Inclusion Briefing: Children Missing out on Education


Councillor Carlyle, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Children and Young People introduced the report to the Committee and noted the attendance and absenteeism levels in the city and the need to improve engagement and attainment for children with SEND support in the city, those children and young people on reduced timetables and for Plymouth’s care experienced children and young people outcomes. 

Isabelle Morgan, Service Manager for Inclusion and Welfare presented the report to members of the Committee and highlighted the following key points:



There had been a slight reduction in the prevalence of children missing out on education at secondary and the number of children missing out on education with SEND support had remained stable;



For children and young people with SEND they became less likely to need or require a reduced timetable as they went up the Key Stage levels, this had been reflected in the data which showed that as students with SEND support progressed in secondary school from KS3 to KS4 the numbers of pupils on a reduced timetable showed a slight drop;



The City had seen an improvement of 36.7% on the numbers of children reported missing from education and further work would be undertaken with families to get children onto the school roll quickly;



The numbers of children withdrawn to home address education who were known to children’s social care had fallen by 9% between 1 April 2022 and 1 October 2022 compared to the previous academic year. It is thought that the results were down to the new multi-disciplinary working arrangements;



The most pressing issues for the service had been the overall increase in the numbers of children missing out on education, the numbers of children in primary with Education Health Care Plans (EHCP) and children at risk of exclusion had increased;



Many of the children missing out on education had been known to Children’s Social Care and officers were working with schools to support plans in respect of those children, to support plans by working as an integrated children’s services team;



As the key stage levels increased it had been found that the length of reduced timetables increased, this was recognised as a priority for the service and it was noted that the service were particularly interested in reduced timetables that had been implemented for 8 weeks or more;



The number of statutory aged children being de-registered from schools to be electively home educated had continued to increase, the service had been increasingly worried about that trend which became a priority;



There had been an increase in the number of school attendance orders being issued. The order had been there to support children missing from education back into school and it was expected this would continue to rise;


The service continued to work in partnership with schools through the place-based plan and had also been working with Dorset County Council and Plymouth’s link with the Department for Education (DFE) attendance advisor. The DFE had published its attendance guidance which would ensure attendance was ‘everybody’s business’ with the framework to work together in ensuring everyone was working with families and supporting children to remove barriers for attendance. The published guidance had resulted in the service developing an attendance strategy which would be in place by January 2023;



Through discussions with headteachers in the City it was recognised that Plymouth City Council needed to be better with Early Help. From January 2023 people would be able to pre-book onto an Early helpline to have conversations with practitioners;


In response to questions raised it was reported:



Sharon Muldoon would provide figures for children going down the route for an Education Health Care Plan and would provide figures of 6 week decision progress and 20 week production of the plan deadline.



There had been a SEND improvement plan in place which focussed on timeliness of EHC plans which had been significantly improving, however it was acknowledged that whilst the number for children and young people requiring an EHC plan was on the increase, the number of educational psychologists hadn’t and there would be budgetary implications in order to meet that demand;



Plymouth City Council had been confident in tracking children that were missing from education. The service captured all live birth data which would come through to Plymouth’s education system and from that point onwards children were tracked through early years and when they became of statutory school age the service would monitor to see whether children were registered at a school and if not would make enquiries to establish what education was being provided. Other local authorities had a similar system and should families move area, authorities would communicate with one another to find a successful resolution. Plymouth city council had a team of officers that could knock on the doors to locate children and work was being undertaken to work across a multi-agency platform to track children should they leave the city. It was acknowledged that the team would be able to identify where families were claiming child benefit;



Plymouth had undertaken a large amount of work in respect of electively home educated children and young people and the service undertook a rapid review with the Plymouth Safeguarding Partnership and different organisations across the city to ensure everyone had been taking responsibility and ensuring oversight of children and young people who could be moving out of school into home education. If children did become home educated, work would be done to understand their vulnerabilities and keep them in education;





Plymouth had made a bid to the Department for Education around the Family Hubs programme for a total of £3.3 million to engage young children in the city at the earliest intervention point;

The Committee agreed to:


                              I.        Add to the work programme Children missing education, which would see more a more detailed report following analysis of the data;

                            II.        Note the report.













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