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Child missing from education (CME)

Local advice and guidance on Child Missing from Education (CMfE)

A child going missing from education is a potential indicator of abuse or neglect.  Staff in education provision should follow the provision’s procedures for dealing with children that go missing from education, particularly on repeat occasions, to help identify the risk of abuse and neglect, including sexual exploitation, and to help prevent the risks of their going missing in the future.

All children, regardless of their circumstances, are entitled to a full time education which is suitable to their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have.  Central to raising standards in education and ensuring all pupils can fulfil their potential, pupils need to attend regularly.  Missing out on lessons leaves children vulnerable to falling behind.  Children with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both primary and secondary school.

Local authorities have a duty to establish, as far as it is possible to do so, the identity of children of compulsory school age who are missing in their area.

All education providers should:

  • Promote good attendance and reduce absence, including persistent absence
  • Ensure every pupil has access to full-time education to which they are entitled
  • Act early to address patterns of absence
  • Ensure parents perform their legal duty by ensuring their children of compulsory school age who are registered at school attend regularly
  • Ensure all pupils are punctual to school and lessons
  • Ensure they liaise with the named social worker where Children’s Social Work are engaged with the child or family.

School Requirements

The law requires schools to have an admission register and an attendance register.  All pupils must be placed on both registers.  Schools should use the national absence and attendance codes to record and monitor attendance and absence in a consistent way which complies with the regulations.  They are also used for collection statistics through the School Census System.  The codes are detailed in School Attendance (DfE, November 2016. Please note the requirements around the use of the L and U code (page 8), and requirements for recording attendance of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller pupils (page 11).

Schools should promote good school attendance and put in place appropriate safeguarding policies, procedures and responses for children who go missing from education, particularly on repeat occasions.  The local authority model attendance policy and attendance toolkit (private extranet link) are useful resources to support this work.

It is essential that staff are alert to signs to look out for, and the individual triggers to be aware of, when considering the risks of potential safeguarding concerns, such as travelling to conflict zones, FGM, CSE, forced marriage.

Involving other agencies and signposting:

All schools must inform the local authority of any pupil who fails to attend school regularly, or has been absent, without the school’s permission for a continuous period of 10 school days or more, at such intervals as are agreed between the school and the local authority.

Email: or telephone 0121 779 1737.

Pupils at risk of harm/neglect – Children may be missing from education because they are suffering from abuse or neglect. Where this is suspected schools should follow child protection procedures. If there is reason to suspect that a crime has been committed or the child’s safety is at risk, the police should also be involved.

Solihull Children’s Services:

MASH (0121) 788 4333

Out of Hours (EDT) (0121) 605 6060

Solihull MBC LSCB procedures for Children who have gone missing from home or care

Solihull MBC LSCB procedures for Children Missing Education

If the school do not know where the child (and family) are and have made reasonable enquiries (including liaising with the police and Social Services), they can refer to the Child Missing Education team for further checks and advice.

School Action:

  1. Email address
    0121 704 6145
  2. Complete CME notification form (private extranet link)

Families of members of the Armed Forces

Families of members of the Armed Forces are likely to move frequently – both in UK and overseas and often at short notice. Schools and local authorities should contact the MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) on 01980 618244 for advice on making arrangements to ensure continuity of education for those children when the family moves.

Children of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) Families

Research has shown that many children from these families can become disengaged from education, particularly during the secondary school phase.  Pupils are particularly vulnerable at transition from primary to secondary where a GRT pupil leaves school without identifying a new destination school.  Schools should inform the CME team as soon as they become aware that a secondary school application will not be made for a GRT pupil.  Although many are settled, some GRT families move regularly and their children can be at increased risk of missing education.  Schools should work with families to minimise disruption to GRT pupils’ education, for example if the family need to travel in order to work, they should be supported to dual register with other schools.

Persistent Absence

The definition of persistently absent (PA) pupil as set by the DFE for 2015 – 2016 is a pupil with 10% or more absence (90% or less attendance). The table below, derived from the census guidance, gives an indication of the minimum number of sessions a pupil would miss by each half term to be classed as PA.  (Education providers should analyse this information further by pupil groups).

Half-term 10%
Half-term 1 7 or more sessions
Half-term 1-2 (autumn term) 14 or more sessions
Half-term 1-3 20 or more sessions
Half-term 1-4 (autumn term and spring term combined) 25 or more sessions
Half-term  1-5 31 or more sessions
Half-term 1-6 (full academic year) 38 or more sessions

A pupil profile template which will support schools to identify the issues impacting on PA pupils and detail actions to be taken is available on the Solihull MBC attendance toolkit (private extranet link).

 Solihull Local Authority Penalty Notice Code of Conduct

  • Where a request for leave of absence has been made and the school have sent written notification to parents that the absence will be unauthorised a penalty notice will be issued where the trigger of 10 sessions of unauthorised absence is met.
  • In all other cases of unauthorised absence accrued over time, a Warning letter will be issued by the SMBC Enforcement Team prior to a penalty notice. The trigger for a warning letter will be at least 10 sessions of unauthorised absence

A penalty notice may be issued, subsequent to a Warning letter, if there are a further five sessions or more unauthorised absences – the  relevant paperwork can be found on the Solgrid extranet (private extranet link).

Education Enforcement Team contact details:


Telephone:  0121 779 1737

Deletion of pupil from the admission register

Schools must notify the local authority when they remove a pupil from roll in line with the Removing Pupils from Roll: Guidance for Schools (private extranet link).

All schools must inform their local authority of any pupil who is going to be deleted from the admission register where they:

  • have been taken out of school by their parents and are being educated outside the school system, e.g.: elective home education (EHE). Schools must not seek to persuade parents to educate their children at home as a way of avoiding excluding the pupil or because the pupil has a poor attendance record.
  • have ceased to attend school and no longer live within reasonable distance of the school at which they are registered.
  • have been certified by the school medical officer as unlikely to be in a fit state of health to attend school before ceasing to be of compulsory school age, and neither he/she nor his/her parent has indicated the intention to continue to attend school after ceasing to be of compulsory school age.[1]
  • are in custody for a period of more than four months due to a final court order and the proprietor does not reasonably believe they will be returning to school at the end of that period.
  • have been permanently excluded.

Additional Guidance

Guidance including an additional letter for when parents do not request a leave of absence but school become aware they have taken a holiday in term time is available on the Solgrid extranet (private extranet link).

It should be noted that under raising the participation guidelines young people must remain in education, training or employment or elective home education until their 18th birthday.

Updates and changes


These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information.  Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.