Report a child missing from education

All councils have a legal responsibility to identify children who are missing from education (CME), and those pupils at risk of missing education and, where necessary, return them to suitable education.

This applies to children of compulsory school age - between the ages of five and 16 – who are not on a school roll or 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.

It is essential that practitioners across all services work together to identify and help to re-engage these children into appropriate education as quickly as possible. It is often the case that another agency becomes aware of a child missing from education before education staff at the council become aware.

Circumstances and reasons why children might be missing from education

  • Their parents don't apply for a reception place and they never enter the formal education system
  • The point of transfer 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 (private) 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
  • Parent removes child from current school and does not register them as home educated

CME investigations

In Newcastle, the Access and Attendance Service at the city council is responsible for monitoring and tracking children who are missing from education (CME). The CME coordinator in the team is the named contact.

Following a referral, the CME coordinator will carry out investigations into the case, check if a school 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 councils as appropriate to gather information on the whereabouts of the child and to work in partnership to engage the parent.

Make a referral

Effective and timely multi-agency and cross border information sharing is critical.

  • Statutory and voluntary agencies should inform us as soon as you become aware of a child not in education.
  • Colleagues in other councils should notify us if you believe a child has left your area and moved to Newcastle and has not secured a new school place.
  • Schools and educational providers must notify us if a child has left your setting and their whereabouts are unknown. You have a legal duty that requires you to undertake your own checks first.
  • Members of the public can also inform us about children and young people who you think may be 'missing from education'.

If there is a known safeguarding risk or suspicion of sexual exploitation, children's social care must also be informed immediately.

Did you know?

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.

Need more information?


Phone: 0191 277 4500