Children Missing Education

Children Missing Education

Children Missing Education (CME)

Children Missing Education (CME) are children of compulsory school age who are not registered pupils at a school and are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school i.e. privately or electively home education (EHE).


Why is the work around Children Missing Education (CME) a priority?

All children, regardless of their circumstances, are entitled to an efficient, full time education which is suitable to their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have.

Children missing education are at significant risk of underachieving, being victims of harm, exploitation or radicalisation, and becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) later in life.

Effective information sharing between parents, schools and local authorities is critical to ensuring that all children of compulsory school age are safe and receiving suitable education.


What are we required to do?

Local authorities have a duty under section 436A of the Education Act 1996 to make arrangements to establish the identities of children in their area who are not registered pupils at a school and are not receiving suitable education otherwise. In order for Local Authorities to fulfil this duty, it is crucial that school, health services and other partner agencies act when they are aware of or believe that a child is missing from education. This should include reasonable enquiries to obtain as much information as possible such as names, addresses, contact details, emails, details of other family members, friends etc. Agencies should act quickly to make reasonable enquiries to try and ascertain the child's whereabouts to avoid the child becoming CME.  Only once these reasonable enquiries have been completed and the whereabouts of the child are still unknown or unconfirmed should a Children Missing Education (CME) referral be made the Local Authority.


Reasonable enquiries by the referrer

Reasonable enquiries should include:

  • Contacting family, relatives, neighbours and where appropriate landlords and other significant adults
  • Making enquiries within school with class teachers, friends (if appropriate)
  • Liaising with schools attended by siblings
  • Conducting home visits
  • Sending letters and/or emails
  • Checking with previous schools (if appropriate)
  • Contacting agencies known to be working with the family


This list is not exhaustive; cases should be taken on an individual basis meaning that enquiries may differ case to case.

If at any point there is reason to believe a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm, a referral should be made to children’s social care (and the police if appropriate).


Making a referral

The updated CME referral form can be found here. This referral should be used for all referrals into the Local Authority from September 2019 onwards.

The referral should be completed electronically and submitted electronically to

Referrals will not be accepted via post or via telephone.


What the Local Authority will do when they receive a CME referral

Once the Local Authority receives and accepts a Children Missing Education (CME) referral, we will:

  • Check local databases
  • Attempt to make contact with the parent, relatives and neighbours using known contact details
  • Check school2school database  
  • Conduct checks with health, police, Children’s Social Care and other partner agencies.
  • Conduct additional home visits if required
  • Send warning letters to the family reminding them of their legal duty as a parent to ensure their child receives a suitable education
  • Contact other Local Authorities if required

This list is not exhaustive; cases are taken on an individual basis meaning that enquiries may differ case to case.


Further information

The Guidance for CME referrals is available here.

The Department for Education 'Children Missing Education: Statutory guidance for local authorities' updated in September 2016 can be found here.

Link to the Out of School Register on BSO

Link to the On/Off Roll Proforma on BSO

Page owned by Amy Petschak, last updated on 21/08/2019. This page has been viewed 18,245 times.