'Ghost' children missing from Calderdale education still being watched by council services

‘Ghost’ children who may be missing from education have watchful eyes from council social services teams over them, says a senior councillor.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 3:00 pm

Reassurances had been sought from Calderdale Council’s Cabinet about children who might be going missing following some startling national figures.

Coun Brenda Monteith (Con, Brighouse) said she had been very concerned in recent days to be made aware that in national terms there are some ten per cent of children who are missing from education.

“I find that to be a staggering number of of children who just simply have become ‘ghosts’ in the system,” she said.

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She had asked for figures relating to Calderdale and it seemed over the last few years numbers of children who had become missing in education had actually dropped.

“You might think well, that’s great, but I am very concerned about what this might be masking in terms of children who have just disappeared off the radar completely.

“We don’t know where they are, we don’t know what is happening to them, we don’t now about any safeguarding issues that might be around them and, for me, even if there is only one child in Calderdale who is missing, that is one child too many,” she said.

She said, as retiring Chair of the council’s Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Board, Coun Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) often says, “they are our children.”

Coun Sarah Courtney (Lab, Calder), who has stood in as lead for Children and Young People’s Services while Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) was on paternity leave, said she was confidant the council’s teams were on top of the situation.

She said she had been reassured by Director of Children’s Services, Julie Jenkins, and Rob Murray, Assistant Director for Early Intervention and Safeguarding, that teams had been keeping an eye on all its children during the COVID-19 pandemic – children who are either looked after or at risk or deemed to be at risk.

“They continue to keep an eye on children and, to make sure, there was a lot of face to face contact even during the height of the pandemic.

“Obviously we can never say never there are children we are not aware of, but I feel very confidant that our services are doing the best they can and are actually very much on top of this situation,” said Coun Courtney.

Coun Monteith raised the issue during the questions-to-Cabinet-members section at a meeting of the full Calderdale Council.

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