Children missing education

Children missing education (CME) are children of compulsory school age who are:

  • not on a school roll
  • who have been out of any educational provision for a substantial period of time (usually four weeks or more)

Why children can go missing from education

 There are a number of reasons children can go missing from education, such as:

  • they fail to start a local authority school and therefore never enter the system
  • they stop attending, due to exclusion or withdrawal
  • they fail to complete a move between schools; being unable to find a suitable school place after moving to a new local authority area
  • personal factors, such as lack of interest
  • family mobility
  • family problems

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.

Local responsibilities

All local authorities have a duty to identify children missing from education and to find support for them through the most appropriate agencies.

Schools who are worried about a child who has not attended school for more than five days and is believed to have left the area should make a CME referral.

Please email if you are worried about a child or young person missing education.