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8.5 Children Missing from Education Guidelines and Procedure (Children and Adult Services)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter details the practice and procedure with regard to the responsibilities of all Local Authorities to establish arrangements (as far as is possible) to identify and ensure all children living in their area are receiving suitable education. This is also an important safeguarding measure and it highlights that all those within the Authority, together with partner agencies, have a level of responsibility in this.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Framework for Action: For all children, young people and families in Bolton

Safeguarding Children Coming In From Abroad Procedure

DfE, Children Missing education, Statutory guidance for local authorities (2013)

DfE, Keeping children safe in education, Statutory Guidance for schools and colleges (2014)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in September 2014 by adding links to the DfE's Children Missing education, Statutory guidance for local authorities (2013) and Keeping children safe in education, Statutory Guidance for schools and colleges (2014).


Contents

Section A:

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of Children Missing Education
  3. How and Why Children go Missing
  4. Identification Processes in Bolton
  5. Notification and Referral Routes: Advice to Practitioners
  6. Development of Recording Database (ONE)
  7. Partner Agencies and Services involved in the Referral and Monitoring Process
  8. Identifying a Child Missing Education or at Risk of doing so

Section B:


Local Authority Procedures – CME

Section C:


Schools Procedures - CME
  Identifying Available Provision and Places
  Sharing Information

Section D:


Procedures for Other Agencies - CME

Appendices:


Appendix A: Children Thought to have Gone Missing / Left the Area (Form CME 1A)
  Appendix B: Children Missing Education – Referral form (Form CME 1E)
  Appendix C: Model Warning Letter to Parent


Section A:

1. Introduction

1.1 The Government has placed a duty on local authorities (Education and Inspections Act 2006, Section 436A) to make arrangements to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age and not receiving a suitable education. In relation to children suitable education is efficient full-time education suitable to her/his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.
1.2 The duty applies in relation to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than being at school, for example, at home, privately, or in alternative provision.
1.3 The duty does not apply in relation to children who are registered at a school who are not attending regularly. Schools already have a duty to monitor attendance through the attendance register and to notify the Local Authority where the attendance of individual pupils gives cause for concern.
1.4

The purpose of this document is to establish a set of principles which all agencies can subscribe to and is underpinned by the Children and Young People's Theme within the Bolton Community Strategy to ensure that the Local Authority (LA):

  • Is able to fulfil its statutory duty to provide an education for all children of compulsory school age (1);
  • Is able to track children and young people missing from education (CME);
  • Identifies those at risk of becoming missing from education and accordingly allocates appropriate staff to intervene;
  • Maintains contact with those missing from education and those at risk of becoming so.
1.5

The Children's Trust has refreshed its priorities and for the next three years will focus on:

  • Raising attainment;
  • Improving children's health;
  • Improving outcomes for looked after children;
  • Reducing the number of children living in poverty;
  • Keeping children safe.
1.6 The Children Act 2004 places a duty on all agencies to work together to promote the safeguarding and welfare of children and young people and to share information. This principle underpins this policy and there is an expectation that all agencies will work together as a Bolton Family to ensure that children and young people do not "slip through the net" and become missing.
1.7 These 'missing' children and young people are amongst the most vulnerable in Bolton and therefore it is vital that practitioners in all services work together to identify and re-engage these children and young people into the appropriate education provision as quickly as possible.
1.8

Bolton has in place arrangements for close joint working and appropriate information sharing with other local authorities and relevant partner agencies that come into contact with children and families, including Pupil and Student Services, Early Interventions Team and Connexions Service, ACIS, Youth Offending Team, Social Care colleagues, Primary Care Trust staff, Behaviour Support, Bolton PRU and the Housing Directorate. There are also close links with the UK Visas Immigration.

This network will also ensure that all staff are aware of systems of referral for pupils who are missing or at risk of going missing from education.


2. Definition of Children Missing Education

2.1

The national definition of a child missing from education is:

"All children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, nor being educated otherwise (e.g. at home, privately or in alternative provision) and who have been out of any educational provision for a substantial period of time (usually agreed as four weeks or more)"

2.2 There is a need for Local Authorities to monitor groups of pupils who are likely to go missing from education.
2.3

For the purpose of this document, Bolton's definition of children missing from education or at risk of missing education has been agreed as:

"To include any child who is not accessing full time appropriate provision".

This will include the following pupils:

  • Pupils who have moved into the area and are not yet on a school roll (including Migrant Workers, Refugees, Asylum Seekers, those relocated from a UK Local Authority or from outside the UK). In addition to this group of pupils there may be other pupils who are not on a school roll for any other reason than permanent exclusion;
  • Pupils with a Education, Health and Care Plan awaiting an appropriate placement;
  • Long-term non-attenders (defined as those who have not attended school for 4 consecutive weeks).
2.4 This document does not replace any of the Child Protection Procedures. Existing safeguarding procedures and mechanisms for reporting and recording child protection concerns are to be observed at all times.


3. How and Why Children go Missing

3.1

Children fall out of the education system and are at risk of 'going missing' due to a wide range of reasons and some examples of which are listed below:

  • They fail to start appropriate provision and so never enter the system (e.g. pre-school to Year 1, new to Bolton and no application made to school);
  • Cease to attend due to exclusion (e.g. illegal or unofficial exclusions) or withdrawal by parent; removal from roll with no named destination; or
  • Fail to complete a transition between providers (e.g. Year 6 – Year 7; being unable to find a suitable school place either after moving to a new LA or moving within Bolton).
3.2 To limit the opportunity of this occurring, a series of systematic process and procedures need to be put in place and links between different agencies on the issue need to be formalised.


4. Identification Processes in Bolton

4.1 In order for the LA to take overall responsibility for CME, it is necessary to have an officer, which other teams and organisations can contact regarding CME.
4.2 Bolton has established a CME Officer, to receive referrals and identify those children missing and to maintain the pupil database within ONE for the purpose of recording and tracking pupils who are out of school. Support with this function is also provided by the Early Intervention Team and the Achievement, Cohesion and Integration Service (ACIS) to assist with the home visits and to encourage engagement with Pupil & Student Services to apply for and take up school places.
4.3 The Early Intervention Team will work closely with schools and the CME Officer to support with the reasonable attempts to trace the child.
4.4 ACIS will provide support regarding transition into schools and provision of outreach, amongst other things, to International New Arrivals, Gypsy, Roma and Travellers and migrant workers
4.5 The Children's Services pupil database (ONE) through its processes, provides information on children attending mainstream schools in Bolton and those living in Bolton attending schools in other areas and will identify children of statutory school age leaving the education system.
4.6

Children who are approaching compulsory school age will be identified through parent registration, Nursery Grant data and school nursery data. Those children who do not then enter the education system are identified via ONE.

There is a potential risk that not all children between birth and compulsory school age will be identified due to the strict data protection regulations.
4.7

The post of CME Officer has been established to look at undertaking the developmental work and to take responsibility for:

  • Developing a monitoring and referral system for children out of school, at risk of missing education and those reported missing, destination known or otherwise, in conjunction with the Early Intervention Team;
  • Maintaining and updating the children missing education database and acting as a link officer with schools and other agencies referring or tracking pupils out of school;
  • Developing systems for the regular reporting of data on children missing education or at risk of going missing from education to relevant partners. This is via the Inclusion Managers fortnightly meetings;
  • Working with schools, settings and other agencies to ensure that procedures and practice are in place to minimise the possibility of children and young people going missing from education.


5. Notification and Referral Routes: Advice to Practitioners

5.1 If a practitioner becomes aware of a child missing from education (in whatever capacity), they should notify the CME Officer (Tel. 01204 332139).
5.2 All cases of children and young people missing education or at risk of doing so should be reported to the CME Officer to ensure that comprehensive data on the issues is recorded. Even if a worker is ensuring that the child or young person moves swiftly into appropriate provision they should still make a referral.
5.3

The referral processes are identified in the attached Appendices.

Referral from within Bolton:

Referral from and to Other Local Authority/Agencies:

Other Local Authorities and agencies use many different methods to notify Bolton of children new to the town, including:

5.4 The referral process is documented in attached CME 1D.
5.5 The CME Officer will make necessary enquiries and create a referral to the EIT Service, if appropriate, so that further investigations can be undertaken.


6. Development of Recording Database (ONE)

6.1 Children's Services have developed within Version 4 of ONE a recording and monitoring module which has been developed to record involvements and communications. This is used to record CME information and will be used to inform policy and developments within Bolton and to provide statistical information to Managers. There is an alert which informs users of ONE when a child has been identified as 'Missing' and asks users to inform the CME officer if their whereabouts is known.
6.2 The database will be regularly updated and users will be responsible for advising the CME Officer of any changes to the status of the children and young people concerned e.g. placement in another school has been made.


7. Partner Agencies and Services involved in the Referral and Monitoring Process

7.1 There is a fundamental principle that all officers of the Local Authority, and other partners, have some level of responsibility around the issue of children missing education. If anybody is aware of any child or young person who does not appear to be accessing education appropriately they should make a referral. This may result in referrals being made for children and young people already known and on a school roll. However, given concerns around safeguarding and welfare of this group of children, this is more beneficial than not receiving notification.
7.2

Having said this, there will be some officers who take lead responsibility for the placement of children and young people who are currently not accessing appropriate education. It is anticipated that the following Services or Teams will have lead responsibility in moving individual children and young people's cases forward:

  • Early Intervention Team;
  • ACIS;
  • LAC Team;
  • Youth Offending Team members;
  • In Year Fair Access Panel.

Alongside this group of staff there will be some others who may become aware of children missing education or at risk of doing so and these staff will make referrals but are not necessarily best placed to pursue the child's or young person's placement in an appropriate provision:

  • Local Authority Admission Officers;
  • Behaviour Support;
  • Bolton PRU;
  • Connexions Personal Advisers All Social Care staff;
  • Primary Care Trust staff;
  • Housing Directorate; Neighbourhood Managers / area co-ordinators;
  • Police Officers or Community Support Officers;
  • Any other professional coming into contact with children or members of the public.


8. Identifying a Child Missing Education or at Risk of doing so

8.1

Schools have their own procedures regarding contacting children at risk of going missing from education. These are linked to those of the Early Intervention Team's guidelines and also the use of the schools to schools (S2S) website and the Lost Pupils Database for the transfer of pupil data. Schools should act responsibly in this matter in terms of the safeguarding agenda and the duty to ensure that the whereabouts of all children are known.

This proactive approach will help to enable us in limiting the opportunity for children and young people to become missing or "lost".
8.2

The Local Authority (LA) has an overall duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and within that falls the duty to make arrangements to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age and not receiving a suitable education.

The CME Officer will be able to access various reports from ONE to highlight specific children and young people who have left one provision and not yet started at another provision.


Section B:

Local Authority Procedures – CME

Local Authority Lead and contact details:

CME Officer,
Pupil & Student Services,
2nd Floor,
Paderborn House,
Civic Centre,
Bolton
BL1 1UA

Tel: 01204 332139
E-mail: childrenmissingeducation@bolton.gov.uk or secure e-mail for Government agencies.

The CME officer has an extensive range of contacts and has established information sharing procedures with internal and external agencies

The CME Officer attends regular meetings of the North West network for CME. The CME Officer is also a member of the School Admissions Team and is well placed to have access to up to date information regarding school applications and the availability of school places.

Notification Routes:

  • From schools - where a child has left the school and the whereabouts or new provision not established; on admission list but does not arrive and contact cannot be made; or where a school becomes aware through their own pupils/families or other contacts, or any child who is not registered at a school;
  • From other professionals within Children's Services e.g. ACIS, EIT, Social Care, Admissions;
  • From other Services e.g. Housing, Health, Police;
  • From other Local Authorities - S2S secure messaging;
  • From members of the public.

Recording Children Missing Education

The Children's Services pupil database has a module which is used, amongst other reasons, to record children missing education. It is the CME Officers responsibility to record necessary information on this database to enable accurate information to be reported to the Director of Children's Services as and when appropriate and to the Early Intervention Team at the regular fortnightly meetings.

Local Authority Procedures

Please refer to the CME Out of Borough Enquiries, and CME Process Flow Charts regarding the various referral routes and scenario's regarding referrals. The CME Officer will be responsible for co-ordinating referrals from schools, internal and external agencies and recording the information on the pupil database.

The CME Officer will perform a number of checks using the prescribed checklist with various agencies using the agreed protocols to ascertain the whereabouts of a child. It is the CME Officer's responsibility to record the missing child on the S2S Lost Pupil database if necessary which is accessed by CME Officer's within Local Authorities across the country.

All children missing education will be referred and monitored through the fortnightly meetings between the Key Worker responsible for CME, and the CME Officer. Both parties will assess outstanding cases and agree an action.

This will include children:

  • New to the area;
  • LAC;
  • Children from asylum seeking, refugee, GRT and migrant worker families;
  • Pupils in transition.

CME Out of Borough Enquiries, and CME Process Flow Charts

Click to view the CME Out of Borough Enquiries, and CME Process Flow Charts.


Section C:

Schools Procedures - CME

The following advice and guidance is provided for schools in an effort to ensure consistent practice.

Missing Pupils

Under normal circumstances when a child moves school the receiving school must contact the previous school to inform them they have placed the pupil on roll. In response to this, the previous school must complete a Common Transfer Form (CTF) and transfer this file to the new school via the secure data transfer site, referred to as School-to-School (S2S).

Any school receiving a pupil for whom they have not been sent a CTF and do not know their previous school should contact the Information Management Unit on Tel. (01204) 33 2129.

The purpose of this national system is to try and avoid pupil's going missing.

Where a pupil leaves a school and no notification of a new school has been received, a school must within 1-10 days of their last date of attendance notify the Local Authority CME officer having completed the 'reasonable enquiries' checklist. The pupil must remain on roll for at least 20 continuous school days whilst further enquiries are completed by the CME Officer.

  • Pupils located in Bolton:
    If the child returns to school or is found during the 20 days the child should not be taken off roll. The school should work with the child/family and if appropriate other agencies to ensure the child remains engaged in education. They may be removed from roll if they then go on roll at another school;
  • Pupils located outside Bolton:
    The school should complete the checklist with information of the forwarding address and send to CME Officer who will make enquiries with the receiving authority to confirm the child's whereabouts;
  • Pupils not located:
    If after completion of the checklist and submission to the CME Officer the child remains untraceable the school may remove the pupil from the roll subject to confirmation by the Line Manager of the CME Officer. The pupil must remain on roll for at least 20 continuous school days whilst enquiries are completed. The school will post the child on the S2S site. In accordance with DfES S2S instructions the destination should be given as XXXXXXX (i.e. 7X's). This website enables LA staff on a national basis to see who is missing and provide fresh information where possible. Guidance on the use of the Schools to Schools (S2S) secure website is available on Schools Extranet. For further queries please contact the Information Management unit on Tel. (01204) 33 2129.

*The removal date will depend on whether the pupil has been traced to another school or is untraceable. The School must adhere to The Education (Pupil Registration)(England) Regulations 2006 Regulation 8 'Deletions from Admission Register'. Please see the guidance notes produced by the Early Intervention and Connexions Service.

The following summary of the regulations and guidance is not comprehensive but is relevant to children missing or at risk of missing education:

Regulation 5 of the Education (Pupil Registration)(England) Regulations 2006 specifies that pupils join the school roll (i.e. must be listed in both the admissions and attendance registers) on the expected first day of attendance. It follows that the usual procedures for reporting absence therefore apply even where the pupil does not arrive on that day.

Regulation 8 of The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 sets out the only circumstances which pupils of compulsory school age can be deleted from the register and schools may not delete pupils from the attendance register until they are deleted from the admission register. Please also see Appendix 1 regarding deletions from the register. Note: 2013 Amendments to Regulation 8.

Regulation 12 of The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 deals with the information returns to the local authority. It now requires schools to provide their local authority with the details of pupils who fail to attend regularly, or have 10 days of continuous unauthorised absence. It also requires schools to inform their local authority of deletions of compulsory school age pupils as soon as they become aware of the circumstances and before the deletion is made.

This proactive approach will help to enable us in limiting the opportunity for children and young people to become missing or "lost". If the missing child is subject to a child protection plan the school or agency should make every attempt to contact them as a matter of urgency. If they cannot be located, then the child's Social Worker or the Child Protection Unit should be contacted as a matter of urgency.

To ensure joined up integrated working the CME Officer will check ONE in order to identify which other professionals are currently or have previously worked with the child.

Whichever officer takes lead responsibility for a particular case they should be advised which other professionals are involved.


Identifying Available Provision and Places

Provision and places will be identified through Pupil and Student Services and key allocated personnel.


Sharing Information

Checks with other Council Departments can be made on the basis of the following legislation:

  • Current child protection legislation, which states that any child missing from education is deemed to be a Child In Need;
  • Section 27 of the Children Act 1989 which states that a Local Authority may request help from any Local Authority and other agencies in exercising their duty to provide support and services to children in need and that Education staff have a duty to gather information regarding concerns;
  • The Children Act 2004 which states that all public agencies should work together to exchange and share information for the welfare and protection of children in the area;
  • Data Protection Act 1998, Schedule 1, Principle 1 and Schedule 2(5)(b), to process data which is necessary to enable an Authority to pursue every avenue to trace a child, as well as Schedule 2, specifically: Para 3 "disclosure is necessary to protect the vital interests of the child", and Para 5d "disclosure is necessary for the exercise of any functions of a public nature, exercised in the public interest".

As well as:

  • Enabling earlier identification of needs, and earlier and more effective action in addressing them;
  • Encouraging better communication between practitioners.


Section D:

Procedures for Other Agencies - CME

This may include the Police, health professionals, voluntary organisations, etc.

Where an agency has information regarding a child who is not currently accessing education or is aware of a child who is at risk of missing education they should inform the CME Officer as soon as possible using the referral form. See also Model letter to Parent.

The Agency's own referral form will be accepted but as much details as possible needs to be included to ensure the maximum chance of tracing the pupil. Please contact childrenmissingeducation@bolton.gov.uk or Tel. 01204 332139 for further details.

The CME Officer will be responsible for co-ordinating the referrals from schools, internal and external agencies and ensuring accurate recording on the pupil database.


Appendices

End