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This week not only do we look forward to Christmas, which is very nearly upon us, but we can also celebrate the end of the first school term. I wanted to take this moment to reflect and congratulate everyone on all their hard work. In particular, a huge congratulations to those who have completed their recent sets of GCSE mock exams.

Whilst we are moving forwards from the Coronavirus pandemic, the impact of the disruption to children’s education and learning is still being felt by many. I know that across the country students, teachers, pastoral support staff, social workers, parents, and carers are still navigating the unique challenges that Covid introduced.

That’s why it’s so important that everyone gets a chance to pause and reflect over the Christmas period, celebrate what has gone well this term and look forward to the rest of the academic year.

For myself, I’m looking forward to continuing my work on understanding children missing from education. Most local authorities have now submitted data on the education placement data for their cohort of looked after children of statutory school age as of 31 March 2022. The data will show, for the first time, how many looked after children were: out of education entirely, receiving tuition at home, being electively home educated, in part-time unregistered alternative provision or being educated in an independent school.

I am very grateful to the local authorities who have submitted the data already and will be following up with those who have yet to do so. It is so important that we champion the right to an education for all children and that the system is accountable where children, particularly the most vulnerable, aren’t receiving an appropriate or suitable education.

Any looked after children or children with a child protection plan who are concerned about their education or are missing out on education can contact my Help at Hand team for advice and support.

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