Abbreviations and terms used in this document


  • CME - children missing from education
  • DfE - Department of Education
  • EHE - elective home education
  • EOTAS - Education Other Than at School
  • LA - local authority
  • Schools - the generic term used to describe institutions in which statutory school-aged children receive education - these can also be known as academies or colleges and be in the state or independent sectors
  • BHCC - Brighton & Hove City Council

Contact us

Find out how to contact the Children Missing Education Officer.


1. Introduction

This policy outlines Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC) procedures to meet its statutory duty for identifying, registering and tracking children missing education and the strategies used to identify those at risk of missing education.

Children missing from education (CME) in this document refers to all children of statutory school age who are not receiving a suitable education by being registered at school or otherwise.

This policy has been produced to assist the local authority (LA) to meet its statutory responsibilities relating to the provision of education and the safeguarding and welfare of children.

It is related to current Legislation and Related Guidance (S436A – Education and Inspections Bill 2006) and based on the Department of Education’s (DfE) Children missing education, Statutory guidance for local authorities September 2016.

The national definition of a child missing education is:

  • not on a school roll or being educated otherwise - at home, privately or in alternative provision - and who has been out of educational provision for more than 4 weeks
  • registered at school, but for a period of 4 weeks or more, has not attended school or alternative education provision
  • registered at school but their family has moved without providing a forwarding address or details of a new school

2. Why children go missing from education

Children may go missing from the education system because they:

  • do not start appropriate provision and do not enter the system
  • do not transfer from primary to secondary provision
  • stop attending because of unofficial exclusion
  • are withdrawn by parent or carer
  • transfer between local authorities
  • have been permanently excluded
  • move to another authority or return to their country of origin

Children missing from education are at a greater risk of:

  • physical harm and exploitation
  • substance abuse
  • anti-social behavior and crime
  • illegal employment
  • becoming Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET)

We have a systematic and robust process in place to log, track and locate children and to make sure they're returned to education in a speedy and efficient manner.

3. Reducing the risk of children going missing from education

This policy identifies the procedures currently in place to reduce the risk of children falling out of the education system and going missing.

The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2000 (S1 2000/297) (as amended by S1 2001/1212 and SI 2002/1680) set the rules for the transfer of information from school to school when a child moves school.

In particular, regulation 10(3) says “The headteacher of the pupil’s old school shall send the information (the common transfer information and educational records) within 15 school days of the pupil’s ceasing to be registered at the school.”

'CTF 2' is the electronic version of the Common Transfer Form which schools are legally required to send to a pupil’s receiving school within 15 days of their leaving. The CTF guidance to schools, issued by the Department of Education, helps make a positive contribution to inter-authority working, making sure that children do not disappear from the system.

The Children Missing Education Officer is the nominated officer who's responsible for searching the Lost Pupil Database for details of children with no recent school history.

This is added to by LA guidance to make sure that schools continue to follow BHCC’s policies about:

  • casual admissions
  • removing students from roll
  • referrals to the Access to Education Team
  • promoting consistency in school administrative procedures

Tracking systems in place include:

  • sharing and receiving information from other agencies to identify those at risk of becoming CME
  • regular training of school staff on CME procedures
  • ensuring all partner agencies have access to updated information on CME
  • liaison with other local authorities and access to national database, School to School (S2S)
  • putting measures in place to re-engage those at risk of becoming CME through discussion at monthly CME panel and referral to appropriate agencies for support

The officer who undertakes the registration and monitoring of these children will play a key role in achieving this.

The Children Missing Education Officer works in the Access to Education Team.

4. Identifying and engaging stakeholders

In paragraph 17.97 of the Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report, Lord Laming recommended that, “Front line staff in each of the agencies which regularly come into contact with families with children must ensure that in each new contact, basic information about the child is recorded. This must include the child’s name, address, age, the name of the child’s primary carer, the child’s GP and the name of the child’s school if the child is of school age. Gaps in this information should be passed on to the relevant authority in accordance with local arrangements.”

The LA continues to raise awareness among agencies of how to inform the LA of children missing from education. It's often the case that another agency is aware of the arrival or the existence of a child living in an LA but not in education, before the LA is aware.

Stakeholders include:

  • school secretaries and administrators
  • housing
  • A&E departments
  • health services
  • social care
  • police
  • homeless hostels
  • women’s refuge
  • SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) department

Up to date referral information on CME procedures is shared with all appropriate agencies annually.

5. Information sharing

A network of agencies with which information can be shared is in place to locate children and young people who are believed to be resident in Brighton & Hove.

The key partner agencies are:

  • schools – academies, maintained, special schools and independent schools
  • school admissions
  • children’s social care – Front Door for Families
  • health
  • police authorities
  • Youth Offending Services
  • housing providers
  • 14 to 16 providers

6. Referral

Referral is made directly to the CME Officer by phone or email. Find contact details for the CME Officer.

Referral for children who live in Brighton & Hove

Reasons for referral within Brighton & Hove include children who:

  • do not appear at entry to reception year
  • do not appear at the allocated school at transition from Infant to Junior and Primary to Secondary
  • stop attending school - if they haven't attended for 4 weeks and there's been no contact with parents - the school should make a referral
  • are permanently excluded from school
  • are placed in a women’s refuge
  • are educated otherwise than at school
  • are removed from the school roll - this is called unofficial exclusion
  • have attendance less than 30%

Referral of pupils who may be new to Brighton & Hove

All officers in Children’s Services are responsible for notifying the CME Officer of any information received from another authority regarding a child who may be missing from education and is believed to be living in Brighton & Hove.

Once this information has been logged on the CME database, the CME officer will investigate to try to locate the child.

This could include:

  • visiting an address where the child is believed to be living
  • checking the social care database
  • checking the school admissions database
  • checking the Housing Benefit database
  • checking Council Tax records
  • checking the Looked After Children database
  • GP tracking - school health clerks
  • contact with the police
  • contact with the Traveller Team
  • checking with neighbouring local authorities
  • independent schools check

7. School admissions

There are close links between the CME Officer, schools and school admissions. When children do not take up school places that have been offered, the school will inform school admissions and CME for further investigation.

The following has been agreed so these children can be identified as early as possible. It also allows the Access to Education Service to investigate the educational provision of these children.

School admissions will provide the CME Officer with details of pupils who have not accepted a place for entry to reception and pupils who have not accepted a place for Year 7.

The CME Officer will identify children who have not arrived with all schools at the beginning of term. They will then check with school admissions to find out whether an alternative school placement has been allocated or whether contact has been received from the parent clarifying a pupil’s education provision.

They will also check with the Access to Education Service whether the parent has informed the LA that they intend to Electively Home Educate (EHE).

8. Children placed in women’s refuge

Women fleeing domestic violence may be allocated a place at a women’s refuge. The whereabouts of the women and any children entering the refuge must be kept confidential.

The children will need to be kept safe and found a school place without delay. It's important that there's understanding and empathy of parental preference. This will help keep disruption to the child’s education is to a minimum. It will also allow them to have a structured day at a time when their lives may be in turmoil. 

There is a named Access to Education Officer with responsibility for children placed in the women’s refuge (this must always be a female worker). The refuge will contact the Access to Education Officer when a school age child arrives.

The Access to Education Officer will then liaise with school admissions to allocate a school place and discuss any transport implications. 

9. Children educated other than at school

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 says, “the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him/her to receive efficient full-time education suitable to age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he/she may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise”.

This allows parents to remove their child from school and provide them with education at home.

When parents withdraw their child from school to do this, and the child is of compulsory school age, the name of the child can only be deleted from the admissions register of the school when the parents inform the school in writing “that he/she has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school” (as stated in the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995 under Regulation 9(1)(c)).

It is then the duty of the proprietor of the school to inform the LA within 10 working days (under Regulation 13 (3)) “when the name of a pupil has been deleted from the admission register in accordance with regulation 9(1)(c) the proprietor shall make a return to the local education authority giving the full name and address of that pupil within 10 school days immediately following the date on which the pupil’s name was so deleted.”

In other words, schools must inform the LA when a pupil’s name has been deleted from roll within 10 days of the deletion.

The LA can intervene if it has reason to believe that parents are not providing a suitable education and may issue a school attendance order (under section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996).

It may also apply to court for a child assessment order (under S43 of the Children Act 1989) if it has reasonable cause to do so. This will only be where there is a risk of significant harm to the child.

10. Children who cease to attend school

If a child stops attending school or fails to return from a holiday and the school has not been informed that the child has transferred to another school, the school should inform the CME Officer within 10 days. The school should also provide additional information, like any other agency involvement. 

Where a child is on the Child Protection Register (CPR), the CME Officer must make sure social care are informed of any referral for missing education.

Once referred, the school must keep the CME Officer informed of any more information it receives about the child.

The CME Officer will track and monitor as stated in section 6.

11. Children being removed from school roll

Deletions from the admission register are provided by:

  • the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995 (S1 1995/2089), as amended by the Education (Pupil Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 1997 (S1 1997/2624)
  • the Education (Pupil Registration) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2001 (S1 2001/2802)

The name of a pupil of compulsory school age may only be deleted from the attendance register for the reasons stated by these regulations. 

Find more information about regulation 8 - removal from school roll.

12. Children permanently excluded from school

Section 19(1) of the Education Act 1996 states that every local authority has to make arrangements for the provision of suitable education (at school or otherwise) for children of compulsory school age who are permanently excluded from school.

The Access to Education Team work together with schools to make sure alternative provision is identified within the legal time frame.

13. Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking

Child trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation, whether or not they have been forced or deceived. This includes:

  • sexual exploitation
  • forced labour, like domestic servitude
  • forced criminality

A significant number of children who are victims of sexual exploitation go missing from home, care and education at some point. One of the key indicators in identifying cases is that children can be regularly missing school or education or not taking part in education. 

The CME Officer receives daily updates of missing children and liaises on a regular basis with the Missing Persons and CSE Co-ordinator, Sussex Police. The CME Officer does CSE and trafficking training and referral routes to relevant agencies are clear, including referral to Social Care and/or use of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

14. Children with a Gypsy/Traveller background and children from transient families

Brighton & Hove Traveller Education Service work to make sure that Traveller children and those from other transient backgrounds gain access to their legal entitlement to an education.

This education has to:

  • meet their needs
  • promote the inclusion and achievement of Traveller children
  • enable Traveller children and families to become independent users of the education system

15. Unofficial exclusions and reduced timetables for pupils

To ensure the safeguarding and welfare of children and young people, it's essential that pupils are not excluded unofficially or placed on a reduced timetable without alternative provision during school hours.

The Access to Education Team work with schools and other agencies to monitor and challenge part-time timetables and unofficial exclusions.

16. Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training

The Youth Employability Service (YES) works with young people who are not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). And as part of the Early Help Strategy, YES offers support to young people in year 11 who are deemed to be at risk of becoming NEET.

Most of the client group are between 16 and 18 and have left compulsory education, so they do not officially fall under this policy. However, both EOTAS and the CME Officer provide the YES team with a list of Year 11 pupils known to them who may be at risk of becoming NEET.

Appendix 1 - schools referral procedure

Pupil absent and school unable to contact parents

When the school identifies that a pupil is not in school and remains absent for 10 school days, all efforts should be made to locate the pupil before referring to the Access to Education Team for further investigation. 

Where the pupil remains absent from school, the school will contact the Children Missing Education Officer. 

The pupil must remain on roll until:

  • all reasonable enquiries have been completed
  • at least 20 days of unauthorised absence

Once it's been confirmed that the pupil may be deleted from the register, the school must upload the pupil’s CTF (Common Transfer File) to the Lost Pupil Database through the S2S website with a file destination of XXX XXXX.

They must also inform the Children Missing Education Officer.

Notice of withdrawal of pupil and name of new school provided

When the school is advised that a pupil is to be withdrawn it should complete a school leaver CME referral form and forward it to the CME Officer. You can get this form from the Access to Education team.

The CME Officer will contact the local authority to check that an application for a school place has been made.

The school should transfer the pupil’s CTF to the new school, where applicable.

Notice of withdrawal of pupil and name of new school not provided

When a school is advised that a pupil is to be withdrawn it should complete the school leaver CME referral form and forward it to the CME Officer as soon as possible. You can get this form from the Access to Education team.

The CME officer will contact relevant parties to try to find out the pupil's whereabouts. 

If future provision remains unknown, the pupil’s CTF should be transferred to the S2S Lost Pupil Database using the destination code XXX XXXX.

The pupil must remain on roll for 20 days.

Notice of withdrawal of pupil when family move abroad

When a school is advised that a pupil is to be withdrawn and will be moving abroad, it should complete the School Leaver CME Referral Form and forward it to the CME Officer as soon as possible.

Once the pupil has completed their last day, the school can remove them from the school roll.

The pupil’s CTF should be transferred to the Lost Pupil Database through S2S using the destination code MMM MMMM.

When a pupil is withdrawn without warning

When a school is advised that a pupil has been withdrawn without advance warning it should contact the Children Missing Education Officer immediately. 

The CME Officer and school will first work together to try to locate the pupil. 

The CME Officer will investigate further. If there's no further contact with the family or from a new school, the pupil may be deleted from the register after 20 school days since the pupil’s last attendance. 

If future provision is still unknown the pupil’s CTF should be transferred to the Lost Pupil Database through S2S using the destination code XXX XXXX.

When a pupil is withdrawn to be home educated

As soon as a school is advised that a child is being withdrawn to be educated at home, it should inform the Education Other than at School service. This is done using the referral to Children Missing Education form. You can get this form from the Access to Education team.

Once this notification has been received, the school can delete the pupil from the school roll. 

The pupil’s CTF should then be transferred to the local authority through S2S using the destination code MMM MMMM.

When a reception age pupil fails to arrive

When a place has been accepted

If the pupil fails to attend on the start date, the school must follow up the absence in the usual way to establish the reason.

If the school is unable to contact the family, the pupil should remain on roll. Their education welfare officer, or equivalent, should investigate and contact the CME Officer.

If the pupil remains absent after 20 school days, and if all reasonable enquiries have been made, the school can remove the pupil from the school register.

When a place has not been accepted

If the family has not accepted a school place, the school doesn't have to place the pupil on roll. The school may wish to keep the place open until the pupil has been confirmed in provision elsewhere.

The CME Officer should be informed, so they can make the appropriate enquiries.

When a pupil fails to make the transition to secondary school

When contact is made with the family

If the school has been advised by a parent or carer that the pupil will not be attending, the school doesn't need to place the pupil on roll.

The school must inform the CME Officer.

When no contact is made with the family

If no contact has been made with the family to say that the pupil will not be attending, the pupil should be placed on roll and absence followed up in the usual way.

If the pupil remains absent after 20 school days, the school should contact the CME Officer to investigate further.

Appendix 2 - CME flowcharts

To view any of the flowcharts on this page in full screen mode, click the 3 dots in the top right corner of the chart and select the screen icon.

Change of school within Brighton & Hove

Pupil moved out of Brighton & Hove

Pupil removed to home educate

Pupil absent with no parental communication

Pupil does not return from holiday