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 ie privately or electively home education (EHE).

You can view the current policy & processes document here: Bradford CME / Education Access Policy

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

Schools must follow their own policies and procedures for responding to pupils not attending school. As soon as a child is believed to be missing education, enquiries in preparation for a CME referral 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 (home visits must be recent and be completed within the period in which the child is believed to missing education)
  • 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

If enquiries by the school do not lead to identifying the whereabouts of a child, a CME referral should be completed. This should be done within a timely manner, no longer than 10 school days after a child has last attended school or their whereabouts were last known.

The updated CME referral form can be found hereReferrals on old forms 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.

We endeavour to complete all reasonable and necessary checks in as short a time as possible, however timescales are often dictated by process especially as we liaise with multiple external agencies.

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

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. (Regulation 8 can be found HERE)

Pursuant to this regulation, under 8:(1),(h) a pupil should not be removed from roll until both the Local Authority and the school agree that each have exhausted their enquiries, and have been unable to ascertain the pupil's whereabouts.

For accuracy of school records, the Local Authority will confirm in writing their agreement for the school to remove the pupil from roll.  (When grounds for removal are deemed to fall under regulation 8:(1),(h) only.)


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.


Advice for schools when families have gone abroad

The focus on identifying and referring children missing from education continues to be a high priority. 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. Schools need not wait any length of time to make that referral.


Current DfE guidance regarding pupils who are out of the country states that schools will need to consider regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended, and consider taking legal advice before deleting a pupil’s name from the register.


In order to delete the pupil under regulation 8(1)(e), a school would need to have evidence that the pupil ‘no longer ordinarily resides at a distance from the school which is reasonable.’ Regulation 8(4) sets out that ‘a pupil shall be treated as ordinarily residing at a place where the pupil is habitually and normally resident apart from temporary or occasional absences’. Schools should communicate with the family and ascertain a residence which is a reasonable distance from school if they wish to remain on roll.


In the absence of any communication from the family a CME referral may be appropriate. Please only refer to the CME team if you believe that a child is missing from education. If schools have reason to believe that the grounds for deletion are met, they should make every effort to inform the family of this, and must alert the local authority via the Off rolling proforma when removing from roll.


If you have any additional information to share following your initial referral, please do so by email. Please be assured that your referral is being progressed and the team will contact the referrer when their enquires establish that a child can be removed from the school’s roll.


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 10/05/2023. This page has been viewed 39,286 times.

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