FOR MANY years, dealing with the problem of pupils going ‘missing’ from school rolls has dogged Bradford and other councils.
The problem has even been exacerbated in recent years as increased EU migration has produced a more transient population.
Alarming as the figures can seem at face value, the vast majority of cases are simply caused by the fact that parents or guardians fail to tell local authorities when they remove pupils from schools to move to other parts of the country or, in many cases, abroad.
But substantial costs can be incurred in trying to locate those children, including working closely with police in some instances to ensure a child’s safety is not at risk.
Those checks can also be hampered by the Data Protection Act which, unbelievably so in these particular circumstances, outlaws families’ personal information being shared between local authorities.
Now, a ray of common sense has emerged in dealing with this issue.
As we report today, Bradford and four other local authorities are involved a pilot scheme with Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue using data-sharing agreements.
Its success has been immediately apparent.
Four out of five ‘missing’ Bradford families whose new addresses have been obtained through the data-sharing agreement have been found either in this country or aboard.
And it is forecast that when the six-month trial ends in June, the HMRC will also have uncovered £6 million of benefit fraud.
It seems obvious that this scheme should be adopted nationally and rolled out very soon.