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Agenda item

Children Missing from Education


Consideration was given to a report, presented by the Service Leader, School Organisation, Admissions and Appeals describing the responsibility of the Local Authority to ensure that children missing from education (CME) are identified, reported and tracked in order that suitable educational providers may be found.


The report stated that the term CME referred to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll and who are not receiving a suitable alternative education, which may be approved alternative provision or appropriate Elective Home Education. 


Members noted that Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 required local authorities to make arrangements to establish the identities of children residing in their area who were not receiving a suitable education.  This duty did not apply to children who were registered at a school and who were not attending regularly. Instead, that issue was addressed via attendance monitoring and persistent absence work.


The Council’s Early Help Service has a responsibility to ensure that protocols are adhered to when a child is known to have left Rotherham and a destination school cannot be tracked. The CME lead officer, CME officers and the Early Help Attendance lead officers have a responsibility to support schools with the identification of children missing from education.


The Early Help Service has redesigned the reporting function and developed a new CME Performance Scorecard. One of the key changes to CME reporting is to include predominant issues captured for new children identified as CME, so that a better understanding of potential vulnerability can be established, alongside a focus on the outcomes for children who have been reported as missing from education.


A copy of the performance summary (scorecard) for Rotherham-resident children missing from education, for the month of September 2017, was appended to the submitted report.


The Department for Communities and Local Government had introduced the Controlling Migration Fund enabling extra resource to assist with key issues affecting the wellbeing of children and their progression in education, such as CME. Officers financed from this Fund spend a considerable amount of their time in schools situated in the Central locality of Rotherham.


Members of the Select Commission discussed the following salient issues:-


: the school attendance data about children whose families leave during school term-time for extended holidays overseas; these cases may be kept open for a very long time and may be Safeguarding referrals; systems are also in place to obtain information from schools, as necessary and notify the Police, airports and sea ports about such children;


: every endeavour is made to record the ethnicity profiles of children, rather than record “not known”; the children in this category very often belong to families who move into and out of the Rotherham Borough area at very short notice and the task of identifying ethnicity is usually undertaken by the officers whose resource is financed by the Controlling Migration Fund;


: the arrangements whereby pupils are removed from the roll of a school; 


: the monitoring of pupils’ school attendance and absence from school and ascertaining the point at which a pupil becomes categorised as a child missing from education;


: the Early Help Service engages with children and young people who are carers at home for family relatives and may be absent from school as a consequence; such children and young people would not be categorised as children missing from education;


: the high incidence of school absence in specific areas of the Rotherham Borough;


: the recorded data about children missing from education  will become more refined and detailed in future; this data would also be subject to review at quarterly intervals by the performance monitoring sub-group.


Resolved:- (1) That the report be received and its contents noted.


(2) That the Head of Service, Early Help submit a report to a meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission in six months’ time, providing a detailed analysis of the recorded data about children missing from education and comparing such data with previous data on both a quarterly and an annual basis.

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