Children missing education

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Cheshire East’s Education Welfare Service works with schools and other agencies to identify and support children and young people who are missing, or at risk of missing education.

Who are children missing education ( CME )?

Children of compulsory school age who are:

  • Not on a school roll
  • Not being educated in a school or anywhere else
  • Identified as having been out of any educational provision for a substantial period of time (4 weeks)

Why do children go missing from education?

There are a number of reasons, including:

  • They don’t start school at the appropriate time and so they do not enter the educational system
  • They are removed by their parents due to problems at school, disinterest or poor attendance
  • They cease to attend, due to exclusion, illness or bullying
  • They fail to find a suitable school place after moving to a new area
  • The family move home regularly
  • Problems at home

The law requires all children between the ages of 5 and 16 to be in full time education.

Why is it important to get children missing education back into school?

Children who are not in school could be missing out on vital educational and social opportunities and experiences. Some of them may be at risk of harm or be in situations that are unsafe.

Children who are not in education are at greater risk of involvement in criminal activity and becoming victims of crime themselves. There is also an increased risk that these children will be victims of abuse. Please see LSCB letter on child sexual exploitation (PDF, 314KB)

I am concerned about a child; what should I do?

If you are aware of children who are either not in school or receiving education at home then please contact the Education Welfare Service. You can do this confidentially either by phone, letter or using our children missing education online form. Please also tell us if you have any concerns about children who have gone missing from your area or neighbourhood.

If the family members include younger children we will speak to our colleagues from other agencies, who may have contact with them, to make sure that they are safe and that their needs are being met.

What will happen when I report a concern?

By making a referral you are ensuring the safety and well-being of some of the most vulnerable youngsters within our community. Someone from the Education Welfare Service will make contact with the family and children to make sure that they are safe and to arrange for an appropriate education.

If the children need some support, to help them get back into school, this will be provided.

Although the vast majority of children are located and returned to education, we will work with other agencies such as the Police and Health if we cannot trace a child quickly. Where children go missing from the Cheshire East area we will use the National Missing Children database to inform other parts of the country that there may be children new to their area in need of educational support.

Contact details

For support and guidance please contact the Cheshire East Education Welfare Service:

Tel: 01270 685943 or email children missing in education.


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Further information