From this term, students must remain in education until the age of 17, but the government says that the activities of around
four per cent of all 16 and 17-year-olds is unknown. In some local authority areas, this figure is as high as 22 per cent.
A DfE statement said: “When the statistics for 18-year-olds are included the rates are considerably higher and some councils have no information about huge portions of their teenage population.”
The participation age will rise again in 2015 when students will have to stay in education and training until the age of 18.
Nationally, 88 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds were in education and training in June of this year, a slight increase of one per cent on 2012.
Skills minister Matthew Hancock has this week written to 12 local authorities warning them to keep better records.
Among the authorities the DfE has written to is Poole, where the activities of a third of 16 to 18-year-olds are unknown, Oxfordshire and Birmingham, where the figure is a quarter, and Waltham Forest where it is one fifth.
Mr Hancock said: “We are determined to do everything we can to tackle the problem of youth unemployment and this starts by identifying our young people who are NEET.
“These new figures show a worrying variation in how well councils track participation in education and training among 16 and 17-year-olds. Some are performing superbly while others are falling behind.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so I have written to authorities we have particular concerns about to remind them of their duty to collect this crucial information.”
The local authorities who received a letter from the skills minister are: Gloucestershire, Birmingham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Poole, South Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Derby, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire.