10,000 children are 'missing' from the English education system, according to OFSTED (which is the regulator).
Ofsted is warning there are thousands of vulnerable youngsters in England who are missing from the education system.
These include youngsters who have been permanently excluded from schools, newly arrived migrants and children with mental health problems.
Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said these youngsters were too often "invisible" to local authorities.
"This can be a safeguarding as well as an educational matter," said Sir Michael.
"If no-one in authority knows what education these children and young people receive each week, or whether they even attend, they not only miss out on education but can be vulnerable to abuse," he said.
"Everyone must take greater responsibility for knowing where they are."
The Hogwarts children are a drop in the ocean; no "official" explanation is necessary if (as seems to be the case for HP) they leave primary school in the normal way and then fail to join a secondary school, simply because there is nobody keeping track of that.
There is a serious gap here in reporting/tracking; "the system" will probably fail to notice Harry's absence. :(
To get a more accurate idea of that likelihood of that happening, we could check reports on children's services in the relevant local authority for the late 1990s.
The Dursleys' home, 4 Privet Drive, is in the fictional village of Little Whinging, somewhere between Surbiton(2) and Staines (yes, a real place).
That puts it under the purview of Surrey County Council.
Of course it's difficult to know whether this would fall the under Education department, or Social Services. Clearly the Dursleys' emotional abuse of Harry - and their forcing him to live in what is essentially a cupboard - looks like it's a job for a social worker.
But to stay on topic with school attendance, we can see from this OFSTED report that the level of attendance in secondary schools in Surrey in the late 1990s was about 92%. The other 8% were absent through sickness, or because they'd been excluded (expelled) from school, or for some other, unknown reason. I think those numbers only include children who were actually registered with a school - HP may have been (he does have a muggle school uniform). So anyway, his absence would probably not have been noticed by the system, rather shockingly.
Update: Actually I'm checking for slightly too late a period, Harry started at Hogwarts in 1991. Further info may follow...
There is a legal duty on councils to try to keep track of children who aren't in education, but the relevant law was made after HP's transition to Hogwarts:
Under 436A of the Education Act 1996, inserted by the Education and
Inspections Act 2006, local authorities have a statutory duty to make
arrangements to enable them to re-establish the identities, so far as it
is possible to do so, of children in their area who are not receiving a
suitable education. The duty applies in relation to children of
compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not
receiving a suitable education otherwise than being at school (for example, at home, privately or in alternative provision). The related guidance makes it clear that the duty does not apply to children who are being educated at home. )
Surrey County Council: Elective Home Education Policy
and judging by the OFSTED press report above (dated 2013) it's not been particularly effective.