Children ‘missing’ from what, exactly?

BBC Scotland reports emotively today on the alleged ‘Toll of kids missing from school‘.

We are unreliably informed that:

“In some cases, children are marked as missing because they have moved house and failed to tell the school. Agencies say others disappear for more “sinister” reasons including abuse and forced marriage. In the past five years, 2,619 children aged three to 16 have gone missing.”

Well, forgive us for pointing out the obvious, but compulsory education age is defined by primary legislation and it doesn’t start at three! No matter how much pressure parents are put under to register their children at nurseries younger and younger as part of the ‘left luggage generation’, the law is (still) crystal clear on what constitutes ‘school age’.

A further deeply disturbing statement by a North Lanarkshire Council spokesman, quoted in the same report, suggests that home educated children are ‘missing from education’, which is patently not the case. That blatant misrepresentation  prompted us to submit a FOIA request to find out a bit more about the policy based evidence that is apparently being concocted by local authorities and other ‘agencies’, aided and abetted by the old familiar ‘fix it’ calls from the BBC.

Definitions of ‘missing’ children. Missing from what?

Dear North Lanarkshire Council,

This FOI request relates to the following statement which the BBC reports as having been made by a spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council’s Learning and Leisure Services:

“The reasons for a child or young person being classified as missing include returning to their original country, moving to another school in the UK or being home educated.”

Since home educated children are, by definition, not ‘missing from education’, as confirmed by guidance, that statement is clearly misleading and damaging to members of a minority group who are exercising an entirely lawful choice.

I would be grateful if you would provide me with the following information:

1.  How many children of compulsory education age (as defined in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980) have been recorded as ‘missing’ by North Lanarkshire Council in the past year?

2.  From which *compulsory* services were these school-age children recorded as ‘missing’ (bearing in mind that school attendance is not mandatory as the provision of education is a parental responsibility)?

3.  How many ‘missing’ children were recorded as such due to their lawful status of being electively home educated, whether known to the council or not?

4.  How many children under compulsory education age (as defined in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980) have been recorded as ‘missing’ by North Lanarkshire Council in the past year?

5.  From which *compulsory services* were these children under school-age (which is attained the August following a child’s fifth birthday) recorded as ‘missing’ (bearing in mind that health visiting, nurseries and third sector ‘services’ can be declined by parents unless a child is subject to compulsory – not voluntary – measures of care or supervision)?

6.  How many children who are/were subject to (a) compulsory and (b) voluntary measures of care or supervision have been recorded as ’missing’ by North Lanarkshire Council in the past year?

7.  Finally, please provide a copy of North Lanarkshire Council’s policy relating to the ‘mining’ and sharing of citizens’ (including children’s) personal data, including the requisite procedures for obtaining the informed consent of data subjects for processing all such data.

Home Ed Forums covers all the bases in this thread, including Glasgow City Council’s ‘track and trace’ system for children who leave the country with their families quite legally. We suspect they are going to be very busy (and probably bankrupt) as many more families choose to leave Scotland as a result of the ill-conceived GIRFEC and its army of data stealing state snoopers. We would contend that our money would be far better spent on tackling the child poverty that disproportionately blights Glasgow, but the state evidently has different priorities and plans for our children.

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