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Knowledge Hub.

Where are our children? Joined up education management systems are a crucial part of tracking down and supporting the missing.

15th February 2022

By Kelly Traverse, Education Knowledge Expert

Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England has announced that an inquiry is to be conducted into the number of children of school age that are missing from education. The number of children in this situation is thought to be anything between 80,000 and 100,000 – a worrying statistic in itself. What is perhaps equally disturbing is the fact that some councils have been unable to provide basic data from their education management systems.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Dame Rachel said:

“When I asked the 10 local authorities to send me very simple data [such as] how many children have you got in your area, how many children are not on roll, how many children are waiting for school places, they could not all give me that answer,"

"I cannot believe that we can't actually manage to find every child in this country."

Once again, this issue highlights the need for local authorities to have access to an efficient IT solution that is able to manage children and families under one record. If this was the case, all professionals involved with a child, young person or family would be working from the same information, with appropriate access controls to see all data.

Real time data gives councils the ability to find and support missing pupils

Like a viewer of a TV quiz show, this sort of story has one software provider jumping up and down and shouting the answer – “it is already possible!”. Liquidlogic’s software spans social care and education, providing councils with a complete picture of their school age population and giving the ability to track those who are missing and support persistent absentees to attend school and college.

The Liquidlogic Early Years & Education System (EYES) holds information on children and families in one place. Key information is available without the need for producing lengthy and often complex reports through use of functional real time dashboards, pupil status flags, configurable alerts, and automated daily school data feeds. Using dashboards, EYES shows how many pupils the local authority has on record. This data is drawn from a variety of sources including social care referrals, early help interventions, early years, school enrolments and post-16 information. Using the wealth of data available, councils are presented with real time data, a variety of indicators and alerts and access to all the information they need to understand where their children and young people are. In those cases where children go missing, professionals are alerted immediately and can begin tracking.

EYES imports a subset of data on all enrolled pupils, including daily attendance from schools as well as identifying where enrolment records are deleted by schools, children have not attended, or schools have off rolled. Professionals can be alerted when leaving data is received and no further enrolment is supplied, allowing them to follow up with the intended destination if known.

Councils using EYES can even automatically collect statutory pupil data for vulnerable cohorts outside of the area, such as children looked after and pupils with an Education Health & Care Plan (EHCP), as well as post-16 students where the council is responsible.

In addition to this, admissions teams can understand how many pupils are waiting for a school place, who is in the process of Fair Access Protocols and those seeking education as new arrivals into the country - subsequently, they are alerted if the children they allocate do not arrive at their destination school.

Using tech to break down barriers and understand where children are

Even where parents have not applied for a reception place and children have no early years provision, the team can see and follow up on those children to ensure they are traced early. System workflows enable information to move between departments and not work in silo which has traditionally been a problem in local authorities.

Attendance teams can use EYES to understand where children are, identify patterns or trends in non-attendance and efficiently track those missing. Schools can also make referrals to the local education authority online in a secure and efficient way to meet their statutory duties.

Councils carry a huge responsibility in tracking pupil attendance and have endured many years of austerity and staff cuts. This reduction in resource means that education teams desperately need the tools to do their job efficiently and accurately. The EYES platform from Liquidlogic ensures that data is accurate, available at the touch of a button, secure and access controlled. This cohort of up to 100,000 pupils should be simple to track and address, yet councils continue to endure systems that are not joined up and cannot provide the data that is being requested by Dame Rachel de Souza. Something has to change so that councils are not left with the feeling that they “could do better”.