Hundreds of ‘hidden children’ in Brighton and Hove missing out on education, says report

Hundreds of Brighton and Hove children may be falling through the cracks as they are missing out on school.

The so-called “hidden children” are known to include six primary age pupils who are not in school full time and at least 439 pupils that secondary schools believe are not attending for emotional reasons.

Other groups of concern are those on part-time timetables, travellers, transient families, pupils at unregistered schools, those in pupil referral units, LGBT young people who are victims of bullying and young carers.

A report going before the Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee on Monday (17 September) spells out an action plan for tracking these youngsters.

Run for Great Ormond Street Hospital

Schools are being asked to let the council know when children are not attending full time as at the moment the authority is not sure about the extent of the issue.

The report said: “We understand children can be vulnerable if they are not attending school, have a history of family dysfunction, abuse, neglect and being in care, privately fostered, excluded or have unmet special educational needs.

“By being in receipt of their full (educational) entitlement, children and young people will be less vulnerable, at reduced risk from harm and have improved outcomes.”

Individual children are monitored at the moment if they are too ill for school or waiting a special school place. Others may be at risk of exclusion.

At the lower end of priorities are the 16 per cent of the 120 two-year-olds and four per cent of the 227 four-year-olds eligible for early years places who are not taking up places.

While it is not compulsory, there is encouragement from health visitors to take up the option.

If the committee agrees to the plans, the council’s Access to Education Team will work to track children in any circumstances where lack of education may not be noticeable.

The report said that the strategy was explained to Ofsted during the council’s recent inspection and goes beyond the statutory requirements.

It has also been discussed with Amaze, the charity supporting families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, Brighton and Hove Parent and Carers Council (PaCC) and Managing Autism Spectrum Condition Ourselves Together (MASCOT).

The report added that the cost of the review was being met from existing budgets.

The committee is due to meet at 4pm on Monday 17 September at Hove Town Hall.

  1. Mel Reply

    Being educated at home is not the same as “missing out on education”. Nor does it mean being “hidden”. If the six primary and 439 secondary pupils are being home educated, why is there no mention of home education in your article? School is not compulsory, but this article makes it sound as if it is… It makes it sound as if these people are doing something wrong by choosing (lawfully) to not use school for their children’s education, and that they need correcting. A bit economical with the truth…

    • Sarah Booker Reply

      Hi Mel, the report is not referring to children who are home schooled but those missing out on education.

      • Rowan Haines Reply

        So why did you not put that in the report then? The issue is that so many Home Educators are feeling very persecuted by this government at the moment, since our parental right not to opt into the school system is being challenged for the first time in 30 years.

        The average lay person who isn’t a Home Educator or who has a “missing child” does not know the difference. This has been used against our community again and again by the press and by the Local Authority. Kids who have been having a Home Education for the last 10 years, with no issue (and even being “inspected”, which incidentally the LA currently has no legal right to do despite a huge misunderstanding by the LA of what their remit is in this area) These kids who have been electively Home Educating for 10 years or more, are being challenged by the same people who happily inspected them and were happy with what they were doing.

        I know people who have been made the subject of a school protection order (forced to return) simply because the govt and LA have a lot of “heat” on them at the moment. The LA are using scare tactics and horrible letters with incorrect facts in to insist that families are inspected despite them having previously had 0 interest in doing so, or even any concerns about the education received.

        Home Educators genuinely do feel persecuted, both those who were forced into Home Ed because of unresolved problems in the school system, and for those who elected to HE, and whose kids have never attended school.

        We get annoyed with articles like this that do not clearly explain the difference, because they compound the issues for our kids.

        A properly written article needs to explain exactly what its scope is. The press has been a big part of the issue so far, and has been far from balanced in its reporting or in its opinion pieces.

  2. Moira Eastman PhD Reply

    Hi Sarah,

    Your article does not make clear that it is “not referring to children who are home schooled”. In fact, it strongly implies that neither the City Council nor the schools know what the situation is, other than that the children are not at school. You refer to “six primary age pupils who are not in school full time” and “at least 439 pupils that secondary schools believe are not attending for emotional reasons.” You also refer to “an action plan for tracking these youngsters”. If the schools and council are aware of why the children are not in school, there is no need for a tracking plan.

    It is common and understandable to assume that children not attending school are missing out on an education, but some of those children may be being educated at home.

    Home-schooling is growing in the USA, Canada, and Australia. Ray’s
    US nationwide study (2010) found national percentile mean scores
    for home-schooled students were 89 in reading (n = 11,586), 84 in language
    (n = 11,388), and 84 in math (n = 11,587), while the national percentile mean
    was 50 for all students nationwide in all subject areas. So, some children not in school experience enhanced outcomes.

    Of course, most of those children not in school are not being home-schooled and they are almost certainly missing out on an education. So it is very good that they are being tracked.

    A Canadian report on home-schooling found that it “is efficient for some parents
    and is a cost savings measure from which all taxpayers benefit, saving
    Canadians more than 250 million dollars annually.”

    More information on the Canadian experience of home-schooling is available at the fraserinstitute.org. “Home Schooling: The Current Picture”.

  3. Moira Eastman PhD Reply

    Hi Sarah,
    Some further thoughts:
    You refer to the “16 per cent of the 120 two-year-olds and four per cent of the 227 four-year-olds eligible for early years places who are not taking up places”. It is implied that they too, would have improved outcomes if they were in school.
    A US study found that parents and child welfare professionals agreed that the best care of children up to age five is one parent at home full-time, Consequently, parents wanted government to provide income support to enable one parent to stay at home full-time. The professionals wanted government to provide universal childcare.
    Government and other bureaucracies seem to automatically seek solutions in some bureaucratic structure and to overlook the natural persons, mothers and fathers, who are most committed to children’s welfare.
    it is wrong to apply a schooling model to all education.
    No person on the planet is better equipped to promote the brain development of babies and young children than is the biological mother.Children up to age five need mothering, not schooling.
    “It is the emotional availability of the [mother] in intimacy which seems to be the most central growth-promoting feature of the early rearing experience” (Emde, 1988, p. 32). 1.
    ‘And in her soothing and calming functions, the mother is also regulating the child’s oxytocin levels. It has been suggested that oxytocin, a vagally-controlled hormone with antistress effects, is released by “sensory stimuli such as tone of voice and facial expression conveying warmth and familiarity” . 2.
    In regulating the infant’s vagal tone and cortisol level, . . . [the mother] is also influencing the ongoing development of . . . the child’s developing coping capacities.’ 3
    1. Cited in Schore, Allan N. 2003. Affect Dysregulation & Disorders of the Self. New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, p. 79.
    2. Uvnas-Moberg, Kerstin. 2003. The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping The Hormone Of Calm, Love, and Healing: Da Capo Press; A Merloyd Lawrence Book, p. 2.
    3. Schore, Allan N. 2003. Affect Dysregulation, p. 81-82.
    I ask you and other scholars to research how government policies make it difficult for mothers to mother their children.
    for example, you could consult with Mothers At Home Matter.

  4. Elena Reply

    My child is one of those “missing children” Because his primary school could not be bothered to get him the EHCP he needed his transition to secondary school failed. He now has an EHCP but so far all the schools we have contacted have claimed that they cannot meet his needs as stated in the EHCP. So he is still at home, missing out in education even though he wants to be back at school. Perhaps the LA should invest more in staffing levels so our SEN children do not miss out

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