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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 15:04 GMT
The 10,000 'missing' pupils
Teenagers
Teenagers have dropped out of education
There are 10,000 pupils missing from the school system, says the chief inspector of schools in England.

Presenting an annual report into school standards, Mike Tomlinson expressed concern over pupils who have "disappeared from the books" of local education authorities.

These are not truanting pupils, who are still on school rolls, but young people of school age whose whereabouts are no longer known to education authorities.

Although saying that "by the nature of being missing, we don't know where they are", he suggested they might be working in the black economy.

But he conceded that these children, typically aged 15 or 16, could have dropped out of education and become involved in crime.

They could also have been expelled and have been unable to find a way back into the education system.

Although there are no statistics for direct comparisons, the chief inspector said he suspected this was a growing problem.

And he emphasised the importance of reducing the numbers of those who have slipped out of the system.

Absenteeism

The figure of 10,000 derives from the difference between the number of young people who are known to be of school age - and the numbers on school and local authority rolls.

As well as these missing pupils, the chief inspector warned that more parents were allowing children to miss school - and that such absenteeism was on the increase.

The Office for Standards in Education has previously warned local authorities to improve their services for pupils who had dropped out of school.

An inspection of Manchester city council in 1998 urged improvements for services for 140 excluded pupils who had not found alternative places.

Further evidence of "missing" pupils emerged in Oxfordshire last year, when a local authority's tracking system identified that there were pupils who had disappeared from the education system.

See also:

05 Feb 02 | Education
Watchdog praises teaching standards
17 Jun 98 | Education
Manchester caned by inspectors
03 May 00 | Education
Pupils 'missing' from school system
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