EDUCATION bosses have admitted they are worried after it emerged Doncaster has one of the worst records in the country for pupils ‘missing’ from its schools.
The authority today admitted there were 333 pupils who should be in schools or registered as being educated at home - but who are neither.
Children’s charity campaigners and borough politicians have raised concerns that the missing children could be at risk of harm.
A survey which placed Doncaster in the worst 10 local authorities for ‘vanishing pupils’ revealed Leicester has the highest number in the country, with 2,611 children missing from education.
A further eight areas - Birmingham, Bradford, Brent, Leeds, Kent, Sheffield, Southampton, and Westminster - had at least 360 missing children each, or 460 in the case of Sheffield.
But 67 local councils nationwide claimed to have none missing.
Doncaster Council’s director of children and young people’s services, Chris Pratt, said the figures were “of concern”.
He told The Star: “We recognise we have too many children who are not being educated in school.
“This is of concern to us and we are taking robust steps to ensure all children receive the highest quality of education.”
Doncaster Labour leader Coun Sandra Holland said she thought school was somewhere every child needed to be every day, and for many of the borough’s most vulnerable young people it was the only stability they knew.
She said school may be the ‘only time when a little chaos was taken out of their lives, and the only time when they are required to behave reasonably’.
She added: “They are part of the challenge we face in improving children’s services in Doncaster. We need to ensure all our schools are more inclusive so we can provide a safe and stable environment for all our children.”
Coun Martin Williams, leader of the Community Group of councillors, said he was worried that there were still issues raising concern in children’s services, which were called in for Government intervention two years ago.
He said: “Surely someone must pick these children up? We’ve put millions into children’s service and it seems things are still not sorted out.
“I would be worried about the welfare of these children. If they are not registered for schools, what is happening in their home life? I think it is very dangerous, to be quite honest, and I’m sure there is a safeguarding issue. It’s unbelievable. It is effectively a whole missing school.”
Enver Solomon, director of policy for the Children’s Society, said: “It is vital children don’t disappear from the school roll. There’s a danger this could happen to vulnerable pupils if schools just focus on attainment and their welfare is overlooked.”