Years of underfunding for schools and local authorities is now coming home to roost as the system struggles to keep track of thousands of children who have disappeared from sight during the pandemic.

School leaders have warned about the impact of on-going funding issues in response to Ofsted’s annual report this week, which raised fears about the on-going risks facing these “out of sight” children.

In the report, chief inspector Amanda Spielman says that the first national lockdown had seen a “dramatic impact” on the number of child protection referrals being made by schools – a number which has still yet to return to pre-pandemic levels (schools normally account for one in five notifications to local authorities).

The report states: “The low numbers of children in school during the first national lockdown therefore directly affected the ability of local safeguarding partners to identify neglect and harm. Combined with disruption to community health services, it became more difficult to identify children’s and families’ need for early help and protection. Instead, local authorities are more likely now to be responding to a legacy of abuse and neglect.”

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