Over 1,000 Lancashire children 'missing' from school

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More than 1,100 children do not currently have a school place Lancashire, it has emerged.

The figure – for the number of youngsters described as “missing from education” – was revealed in a Lancashire County Council report which says the problem stems from a growing number of children moving into the area, combined with pre-existing demand for places in some parts of the authority’s patch.

Most of the missing pupils across Lancashire are within the admissions system and their parents are “engaging with the school registration process”, the authority's corporate performance report states.

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Preston has the highest number of children out of school across all of Lancashire’s 12 district council areas.

Parts of Lancashire are under pressure for school places - and some pupils are missing out altogetherParts of Lancashire are under pressure for school places - and some pupils are missing out altogether
Parts of Lancashire are under pressure for school places - and some pupils are missing out altogether

The tally of 1,169 pupils missing from education – which excludes those living in Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen and also does not include children being home educated. – was of “real concern”, county Labour opposition group leader Matthew Tomlinson said.

He noted the disparity between the places so far created to tackle the problem and the scale of the challenge – and warned that the shadow cabinet would be “asking some questions” about the issue.

Conservative cabinet member for education and skills Jayne Rear told the meeting at which the issue was discussed that the authority had been working to “mitigate” the problem.

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In a statement issued to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) responding to the issues raised, a County Hall spokesperson said: “Children missing education is a national issue that local authorities, working with schools, health services and other partner agencies, up and down the country are grappling with.

“The latest reported figure of children missing education in Lancashire represents 0.6 percent of the school-aged population.

“There are variety of reasons why children are not on roll at a school and therefore defined as ‘children missing education’ and the circumstances are often complex. As soon as the local authority is aware that a child is not on roll at a school, we engage quickly with families to try to get them a school place as soon as possible.

Lancashire County Council has a dedicated team who identify and work with children missing education and their families to understand their circumstances and where possible, to facilitate a safe return to education for the child.”

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Provisional figures show 99 percent of children in the county council area who are starting in reception class this September have secured one of their family’s top three choices of primary school. The equivalent figure for secondary places is 97 percent.

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