All local authorities have a statutory responsibility to identify children who are missing from education (CME), and those pupils at risk of missing education.
This applies to children of compulsory school age - between the ages of five and 16 – who are not on a school roll nor receiving suitable education elsewhere (for example, being educated at home or privately) and have been out of any education for a substantial period, usually more than four weeks.
There are a range of circumstances and reasons why children or young people might be missing from education:
- They fail to start appropriate provision at reception age and never enter the formal education system
- Transition from primary to secondary school
- Cultural differences in compulsory school age between the UK and the child’s home country
- Delay in applying for a new school when a family moves into the city
- Delay in applying for a new school when a child leaves an independent school
- Parent’s preferred school is full, and they refuse to accept an alternative school place for the child
- Child is removed from school because the family is leaving the area, but a forwarding address is not provided
- Child is removed from school because they have a place in a new school, but parent fails to register the child at the new setting
- Child is removed from current school and is not registered as home educated
These missing children are amongst our most vulnerable children in the city.
It is widely accepted that they are likely to under-achieve academically, and evidence suggests they may also be at greater risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect than their peers.
It is essential that practitioners across all services work together to identify and help to re-engage these children into appropriate educational provision as quickly as possible.
It is often the case that another agency becomes aware of the arrival
or existence of a child living in the authority but not in education before the local authority becomes aware.
In Newcastle, the Access and Attendance Service at the city council is responsible for monitoring and tracking children who are missing from education.
The CME coordinator in the team is the LA’s named contact for all matters relating to Children Missing from Education.
Following a referral, the CME coordinator will carry out investigations into the case, explore whether a school transfer application has been completed, attempt to make contact with the family, and liaise with other agencies such as Health, Housing, Education, Police, Social Care, Benefit agencies and other local authorities as appropriate to gather information on the whereabouts of the child and/or to work in partnership to engage the parent.
Effective and timely multi-agency and cross border information sharing is critical to assist with enquiries into pupils missing from education.
Statutory and voluntary agencies in Newcastle are asked to notify the team as soon as you become aware of the arrival or existence of a child living in Newcastle but not in education.
- Colleagues in other local authorities should notify us if you believe a child has left your area and moved to Newcastle and has not secured a new school place.
- Members of the public can also inform us about children and young people who you think may be 'missing from education'
- All schools and educational providers must notify us if a child has left the Newcastle area and their whereabouts are unknown.
- Education providers have a statutory duty that requires them to complete their own checks before advising the local authority of a missing child.
If there is a known safeguarding risk or suspicion of sexual exploitation, children's social care must also be informed immediately.