Vulnerable children became 'invisible' during the pandemic, Ofsted's chief inspector warned today.
Launching Ofsted's annual report, Amanda Spielman said the invisibility of vulnerable children should be a matter of 'national concern'.
She said that school closures during the first lockdown and disruption to community health service had a 'dramatic impact' on the number of child referrals make to local authorities.
She added that is was concerning that a significant proportion of children who have disappeared from school are those known to wider children’s services.
Ms Spielman said: 'Almost all children, vulnerable or otherwise, are missing out on a lot when they aren’t at school. Some will have a great experience, but other families will find it harder than they thought, and their children could lose out as a result.
'We must be alive to these risks, and we must also watch out for bad practices creeping back in that could compound risk. We don’t want to see any schools off-rolling children; and we need all schools to make the effort to help children with SEND to attend – we know that many SEND children and their parents particularly struggled during lockdown, as many services were withdrawn.'
Ofsted’s analysis also suggested a postcode lottery was emerging for child protection.