Laura Sharman 01 December 2020

Pandemic made vulnerable children 'invisible' report warns

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– we know that many SEND children and their parents particularly struggled during lockdown, as many services were withdrawn.'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.

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