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4.11.2 Safeguarding Children and Young People Missing from Education

RELATED GUIDANCE

Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities: Children Missing Education (January 2015)

AMENDMENT

In August 2015, this chapter was updated as the DfE has issued updated Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities: Children Missing Education (January 2015).


Contents

  1. Policy Statement
  2. Procedures in Solihull

If a member of school/educational establishment/college staff becomes aware that a child may have run away or gone missing, they should try to establish with the parents/ carers, what has happened. If this is not possible, or the child is missing, the designated safeguarding teacher/advisor should, together with the class teacher, assess the child's vulnerability. Whenever a child or young person is missing from education, the possibility of trafficking, sexual or commercial exploitation must be explicitly assessed.


1. Policy Statement

1.1

Solihull is committed to ensuring that all pupils who go missing or are lost from education in Solihull are quickly located and that support is offered to other local authorities to locate missing/lost pupils.

This can be achieved by:

  • Procedures underpinned by the relevant legal requirements in relation to missing/lost pupils;
  • Procedures which interconnect with the DFE central s2s (school-to-school) Lost Pupils Database; and
  • Procedures which are consistent with and support local safeguarding best practice.
1.2 As a result of daily registration, schools are particularly well placed to notice when a child/young person has gone missing.
1.3

In Solihull the Children Missing Education Policy relates to all children and young people who are:

  • Of compulsory school age but not on a school roll or being educated otherwise (privately or in an alternative provision);
  • Registered at a school but for a substantial period of time (usually agreed as 4 weeks or more), have not attended school or alternative education provision;
  • Registered at school but their family has moved without providing a forward address or details of a new school;
  • Registered at school or alternative provider but have extremely low attendance or intermittent period of attendance (usually 80% or lower);
  • Below compulsory school age but have become known to the Local Authority through an application for admission into a school nursery or reception class.
1.4 All children will be tracked into provision by the Children Missing Education Officer (CME Officer), and a system of referral, notification and tracking will be introduced between provisions and the CME Officer.
1.5

The CME Officer will be the Lead Professional with regard to the following cohorts of children:

  • Pre-school children from the point of application to when attendance is confirmed;
  • Children transferring between provisions in Solihull;
  • Children transferring between phases (e.g. Primary to Secondary);
  • Children leaving a Solihull provision where the destination is unknown;
  • Children moving into Solihull requiring new provision, where a school place is not available.
1.6 The database will record the last known provision and details of all children missing education.
1.7 All concerns regarding children and young people missing education will be routed through a single point of referral. The Children Missing Education Officer will be the key central point within the Children Missing Education Virtual Team. Notification can be received from within the local authority, schools, other agencies, the general public and children and young people themselves. All initial contacts must be made through the Children Missing Education Officer. The details for making contact will be widely circulated and regularly refreshed.
1.8 Referrals from schools regarding children and young people known to be persistent, poor attendees should be made to the Education Welfare Officer in the first instance.


2. Procedures in Solihull

2.1 If a child leaves a Solihull school:
  • Without the school being advised by the parent/carer which new school the child is to attend; or
  • When the child has not returned from a holiday or an extended holiday within two weeks of the expected date of return the school should promptly take reasonable steps to contact the parents/carers; or
  • If a child fails to attend a new school following a transfer between phases;
  • If a child does not take up a reception class placement.
2.2

If the child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan, looked after or if the school has particular child protection concerns about the child, the Head Teacher should immediately notify the Children’s Social Work Service if resident in Solihull or make immediate contact with the local children’s social work duty team for the child’s/young person’s home address.

In the following circumstances a referral to Children’s Social Care and /or the police should always be made promptly:

  • The child may be the victim of a crime;
  • The child is subject of a Child Protection plan;
  • The child is subject of s47 enquiries;
  • The child is looked after;
  • There is a known person posing a risk to children in the household or in contact with the household;
  • There is a history of the family moving frequently;
  • There are serious issues of attendance.
2.3 In general circumstances of a child going missing, who is not known to any other agencies, the Head Teacher should inform the Education Welfare Officer of any child who has not attended for 10 days without provision of reasonable explanation.
2.4

The Education Welfare Officer will work with the Children Missing Education Officer to make reasonable efforts to identify the child’s current whereabouts/destination. This will include:

  • Checks through Council databases to establish whether the child has moved within the Borough;
  • A home visit within 5 working days of referral to make enquiries at home (or known contacts) and neighbours as appropriate;
  • Contact with other agencies known to be involved with the family;
  • Checking with Solihull Community Housing; where appropriate;
  • Adding the child’s details to the CME database.
2.5

If at any time during the checking process, the child is located, the Children Missing Education Officer will:

  • Advise the school by letter informing them of any action to be taken;
  • Inform the school’s Education Welfare Officer;
  • Where a forwarding address is identified, contact will be made with the Education Welfare Service of the new Local Authority.
2.6

Following reasonable inquiries, if the child is still missing, the CME Team Manager will work with the Chief Education Welfare Officer to contact:

  • Solihull Community Health Services;
  • The Benefits Agency;
  • Another Local Authority where the child may be living;
  • Children’s Social Work Service and/or Police where appropriate.
2.7 If the child is located, the above process will be followed and the referral closed.
2.8 The child must not be removed from the school roll until notified by the CME Officer or the Education Welfare Officer that it is appropriate to do so. At that point the school should complete the removal from roll notification form and follow the procedure outlined in the Removal from Roll Guidance.
2.9

Where the child’s name has been removed from the school roll, but s/he has not been located, the Head Teacher should retain the pupil’s personal file(s) until they are requested by the Local Authority or another education provider.

The CME Officer will continue to regularly monitor any ‘lost’ children to track them into provision.

All children in care of statutory school age have an allocated EDULAC Support Worker. This worker alerts the Virtual Head to any issues regarding children missing education.  Where a child on a school roll is missing, the child’s name may not be removed from the school roll until s/he has been continuously absent for at least 4 weeks and both the school and the education service have failed, after reasonable enquiry, to locate the pupil and her/his family. After 4 weeks the child’s Common Transfer file should be uploaded to the Department for Education secure site for the transfer of pupil information when a pupil moves between schools.  The CME Officer in the Local Authority must also be informed.

As outlined at 12.1.3 children missing education are regarded as

  • Those without an education place;
  • Those refusing to attend education;
  • Those with low attendance.

Action plans are discussed and reviewed on a regular basis until the position has been resolved, and discussions will also include the child or young person’s Independent Reviewing Officer.

Children who have part-time placements are also included in the above to ensure that full time provision is secured as appropriate for the child/ young person.

Children in care missing education are reported to the Virtual Education Board and the Corporate Parenting Board at every board meeting.

End