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 fulfill 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)
  • Checking with other agencies known to be working with the family
  • If you have been provided with a forwarding address in the UK, it is expected that you make enquiries with that Local Authority

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. Referrals on the old form will not be accepted.

The referral should be completed electronically and submitted electronically to

Referrals will not be accepted via post or via telephone.

Where there are siblings at other schools, please liaise with them before making a referral. In some cases, the other schools may have located the family through enquiries and therefore a referral will not be required. Where a family have provided an address in another Local Authority, enquiries must be made with that authority to try confirm the whereabouts of the family before making a referral. If the family have provided an address out of the country and you are satisfied that they have left and have no safeguarding concerns, a referral is not required. The off roll proforma is still required for all pupil's taken off roll at non-standard transition points. See on/off roll proforma information below.

Children who are not statutory school age should be referred as CME if there are safeguarding concerns, if the child is a sibling of a statutory school aged child and/or if they are due to become statutory school age in the upcoming term.

 *If you have submitted a CME referral and you have any additional information about the family’s location, please update us. Even cases that are closed as inactive if we have been unable to locate them are reviewed and any information is gratefully received in supporting to identify the whereabouts of children who are missing from education.

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/areas if required

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


Secure email

Emails can be sent securely to the if you are sending from one of the following domains:

If you are not sending from one of these domains, you will need to check with the relevant person within your organisation about using additional encryption such as GalaxKey before you send the email. It is your responsibility to assure yourself that information you send can be received securely by its intended recipient.


Removal from roll

Pupil's should not be removed from roll until the Local Authority confirms to you in writing that they have exhausted their enquiries and have been unable to ascertain the pupil's whereabouts; or have ascertained the pupil's whereabouts but the pupil  is not within reasonable travelling distance from your school. At this stage, if school agree that joint reasonable enquiries have been made and no new information has come to the attention of school that might support in ascertaining the pupil's whereabouts then the pupil can be removed from roll. Regulation 8 of The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 provides clear grounds for when a pupil of compulsory school age can be deleted from the admission register.


On/Off roll proforma

All schools are required to notify the Local Authority within 5 days when a pupil's name is added to the admission register at a non-standard transition point. Schools must also notify the local authority when a pupil's name is to be removed from the admissions register at a non-standard transition point under any of the fifteen grounds set out in the Pupil Registration Regulations as soon as the ground for removal is met and no later the time at which the pupil's name is removed from the register. The on/off roll proforma allows schools to submit this information to the Local Authority easily.


Off roll proforma for CME

Please ensure the proforma is completed in full with your most up to date information. If you have ascertained details of a new school, please check that you have the full name and address of the school. is a useful website to use when confirming the details of other schools in England.

The proforma should be completed in full and with your most up to date information.

The off roll proforma has been updated (live from 07/07/2020) to ensure it captures key information for children been removed from the admissions register. If you have any queries or feedback about the new proforma, please contact the CME team.


February 2021 update

The focus on identifying and referring children missing from education should continue to be a high priority as school attendance becomes mandatory again from 8th March 2021. As soon as a pupil is suspected of being missing from education, the school should commence enquiries to establish their whereabouts. If, through these enquiries, it is established that the child is missing from education and their whereabouts cannot be confirmed, then a CME referral should be made straight away.

Pupils who are currently abroad, whose parents/carers want to keep their child’s place at their registered school, will need to return within 21 school days following 8th March (or alternative if school are phasing starts). Regular contact should be maintained during this time with the family to facilitate a return as soon as possible, taking into account the need for them to quarantine on their return.

If a family are able to return but are choosing not to, and are not intending to return their child to school by the 21st school day following 8th March (or alternative if school are phasing starts) then advice can be sought to off-roll following a CME referral.  Agreement from the CME team (Not the automatic reply, this will come in the form of a separate email from the CME team) will be given should the following criteria be met:

-There are no recent or current safeguarding/ child protection concerns.

-School have ascertained an address of where the family are resident abroad.

-School have up to date contact details (preferably a couple of numbers and an email address).

-School have a had a discussion and followed up in writing to the family (to the last known address and/or email if known), that they will be losing their place and therefore will need to reapply on their return including details of how to do this i.e. admissions website, telephone number etc.

If criteria is met, the CME team will email the school to confirm that the child can be off-rolled. The off-roll date should be decided by the school based on the date on which the child was last reasonably able to attend school, taking into account individual circumstances. The date must not be prior to September 2020.

If the above criteria can not be met, then further enquiries may need to be made by the CME team before off-rolling can be agreed.


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 26/02/2021. This page has been viewed 26,922 times.