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Bid to find Suffolk's 'missing children'

PUBLISHED: 10:02 03 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:35 06 July 2010

MORE than 200 Suffolk children are missing from the education system, it has been revealed.

The figures released by Suffolk County Council apply to children who have fallen through the school system and are no longer traceable.

MORE than 200 Suffolk children are missing from the education system, it has been revealed.

The figures released by Suffolk County Council apply to children who have fallen through the school system and are no longer traceable.

Adrian Orr, senior advisor (social inclusion) at the council, said: “There are a variety of reasons why children may disappear from our radar.

“It may be that the parents have moved from the county and they have been enrolled at another school, or they may be victim of domestic violence or family breakdowns. Another reason is if parents have simply disappeared because of financial difficulties, like rent arrears or mortgage defaults.”

The figures do not apply to children who play truant, just those of compulsory school age who do not have a school place.

Children most at risk of missing education include looked after children, young runaways, children permanently excluded from school, teenage mothers and children of refugees or asylum seeking families.

The council is currently advertising for a new post - a Children Missing Education Officer - to help trace these children and enrol them at school.

Mr Orr said: “Many local authorities have the same post.

“All local authorities have a duty to identify and track and trace children who have gone missing from education. Until now senior members of the education attendance service have been doing this.

“We feel that this work needs a dedicated post like our neighbours. Although we are in a time of financial challenge, these are vulnerable children and need our help.”

The council say children missing from education are at much greater risk of physical harm, getting involved in crime and abusing drugs and alcohol.

Mr Orr added: “Of the 100,000 school age children in Suffolk, the average number of children missing education or who we are tracing is around 200. That number can vary from month to month.”

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