OK, I think we've well and truly thrashed that one out. Thanks so much to everyone who contributed.
To be honest, I am still trying to process it all, as for one reason or another I haven't had those usual moments when I'm not either exhausted or frantically rushing about, but my best bet so far is that, as the large majority of commentators have said, we remain true to our previous arguments, ie: that the law as it stands represents a subtle and proportionate balance between respecting the rights of families to privacy and self-determination and protection of the child and it remains incumbent upon local authorities to get more proficient at using it.
Sadly, there is no conceivable way that the authorities are ever going to find the child who has never been registered at birth and whose parents don't claim Child Benefit unless they insist on looking under the floorboards of every single house in the land, which is clearly impossible.
ContactPoint will alert them to those children whose parents claim child benefit and use other services but who's place of education has not been identified. It does seem that the 2009 Guidance on Identifying Children Missing from Education means that local authorities must then follow these families up, but they must follow a proportionate process of evidence collection. They should start by writing to the family, asking for information and evidence of education and should only take further action should the responses prove unsatisfactory.
Alarmingly however, even without any recommendations from Mr. Badman's review team or any changes in current legislation, there is some evidence to suggest that local authorities are already taking the CME Guidance to mean that they must make more referrals to social services. This is reportedly happening to families at the point of deregistration from schools and/or if the family refuse a home visit. Already over-burdened social workers are likely to object to this use of their services, but this will come too late for the families who have to deal with the completely unwarranted stress of social services intrusion. Should reports of this trend prove to be true, we will need to consider what we should do about it. Casting around for new ideas (such as the one mentioned below) and critiquing them as sensibly as we can, should be part of this process and will probably continue to feature on this blog.