Children Missing Education

Local Authorities must have robust policies and procedures in place across the borough to reduce the potential for children to be missing from education for considerable periods of time, as this can put their welfare and life chances at significant risk. These duties also need to be viewed alongside the wider duties and local initiative that aim to promote the safeguarding of children.

In accordance with national guidance, children who are of compulsory school age (5 – 16) who are not accessing suitable education are defined as children missing education. Suitable education is defined as efficient full-time education suitable to her/his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.

Local authorities have a duty in accordance with Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 to make arrangements to establish the identities of children in their area who are not registered pupils at an educational provision or receiving other suitable education.

The BACME Service should be notified of all children who are residing in Waltham Forest that do not have an allocated educational provision.

To refer a CME to the BACME Service, please complete sections A and C of the CME/CMfE Referral Form  

Send the completed CME/CMfE request form to

Children Missing from Education

Children who have failed to take up a school place or who have been unexpectedly absent from school for 5 or more consecutive school days are potential Children Missing from Education. In order to safeguard these children and ensure that they are able to access education, schools and other educational establishments must investigate the whereabouts of these children.

Investigations should include attempts to make telephone contact with all family members, home visits and liaison with partner agencies such as the School Admissions Service, the Revenue and Benefits Service and the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub.

If contact is established with the family and they are still residing in Waltham Forest then the parents must be notified of their legal obligations to ensure that their child is in receipt of full time education and the matter should be pursued as an attendance concern. If the family have left the Waltham Forest area, details of their whereabouts must be obtained and the residing local authority (BACME Team) notified so that they can support the family to access education.

If contact cannot be established with the family and their whereabouts are unknown, a CMfE referral form should be fully completed and forwarded to the BACME Service. It is important that the BACME Service are notified if a child is unexpectedly absent from school for 5 days or more and the school have been unable to contact the family.

Please note that where a school has reason to believe that a child may be absent from school due to an unauthorised holiday, contact is not required and an application for a Fixed Penalty Notice should be submitted to the BACME Service.

To refer a CMFE to the BACME Service please complete Sections A and B of the CME/CMFE Referral Form. 

Send the completed CME/CMfE request form to

Court Prosecution

In extreme circumstances, matters of very irregular school attendance are referred to the Magistrates court for prosecution. Usually this will be considered if the pupil's school attendance has not improved following a SAP Meeting.

In accordance with Section 7 of the Education Act 1996, parents are responsible for ensuring that their children of compulsory school age receive efficient full time education suitable to the child's age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs that they may have. This can be by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Parents can be prosecuted in relation to irregular school attendance in accordance with Section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996 which stipulates that 'If a child of compulsory school age, who is a registered pupil at a school, fails to attend regularly at the school, his parent is guilty of an offence.'

If the irregular school attendance of a pupil does not improve following prosecution, parents can be prosecuted in accordance with Section 444 (1a) of the Education Act 1996 stipulates that 'If the parent knows that his child is failing to attend regularly at school and fails, without reasonable justification, to cause him to do so, he is guilty of an offence.'

The BACME Court Officer will present cases to the Magistrates court on behalf of the local authority, providing the attendance lead, within the educational provision, is able to complete a witness statement, outlining the concerns and interventions that have been undertaken in an attempt to support the family. The statement should provide a summary of events in chronological order.

Upon referral to the Magistrates court, parents and carers will be summoned to attend and will have the opportunity to offer a 'guilty' or a 'not guilty' plea. If a parent/carer offers a 'not guilty' plea, the attendance lead will be expected to attend court to present their witness statement at a subsequent hearing.

The following court disposals are available to the Magistrates court:-

  • Absolute Discharge
  • Deferred Sentence
  • Conditional Discharge
  • Fine
  • Community Order
  • Custodial Sentence
  • Parenting Order (Ancillary Order)

To apply for Court prosecution please complete a court application

Send the completed Court Prosecution form to

Children Missing Education Panel

The role of the Children Missing Education (CME) Panel is to ensure children are provided with the appropriate support to return to school.

Role and responsibilities of the CME panel

The CME panel meets regularly to monitor children:

  • who are out of school due to not having been admitted to an education provider
  • who have non/poor attendance (below 20%)
  • who have been excluded
  • who are with an alternative provider
  • who are absent due to medical grounds
  • whose parents have failed to show their child is receiving a suitable and efficient education whilst being electively home educated

The Children Missing Education Panel links into the primary and secondary Fair Access Panel

Responsibilities of representatives:

School representatives must ensure that the local protocol is adhered to, that the needs of the child are taken into account and that all schools are treated fairly.

Current representatives for your sector

How often does the forum meet?

Every four weeks in term time for 2 to 3 hours. 

Statutory guidance and advice on helping children who are missing education get back into it, is available on

Last update: Wednesday 1st of April 2020 03:19:39 PM