Children missing education

Children missing education (CME) is the term used to describe compulsory school age* children who:

  • Are not on a school roll and
  • Are not being educated in another way (for example at home, privately, or in alternative provision) or
  • Have been out of any educational provision for a substantial period of time and we do not know their whereabouts

Parents and the council both have duties in relation to children missing education:

  • Parents have a duty to ensure that their children of compulsory school age are receiving suitable full-time education and
  • The council has a duty to establish and record what that education is, and to assess whether it is suitable to meet the child's needs

CME is not persistent absence. Please refer to your school's procedure for persistent absence.

*The start of the term commencing on or after the child's fifth birthday, until the last Friday of June in the school year that they reach 16.

Examples of CME

  • Children of compulsory school-age whose family have never approached the LA for a school placement or formally registered to Elective Home Educate (EHE)
  • Families who are missing and their destination is unknown
  • Cases where the family have not taken up the allocated place and the child has not started at any school
  • Families who inform the school that they are relocating and fail to give any further details
  • Families whose home address is empty and clear indicators show that no-one is living at the address
  • Children not previously known (movers in) who may be vulnerable and need additional support in securing a school place
  • GRT children who do not start at the nominated school, or are travelling, and have not provided a return date to the LA
  • Children who have failed to return from leave in term time and all avenues to trace them have been exhausted by the school and the LA
  • Children where there is suspicion the family have moved abroad

This list is not exhaustive please contact CME officer for further advice. Please also see the further guidance on this page.

Safeguarding concerns

If there are any safeguarding concerns or if a child is known to social services, a referral to Herefordshire Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) should be made straight away.

Making a CME referral

A CME referral cannot be submitted before 10 consecutive days of absence. During this time the school is expected to carry out investigations to locate the pupil. The local authority will have a further 10 days to investigate the CME enquiry. Please complete a CME safeguarding checklist (vulnerability assessment) as part of this process.

In line with The Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006 regulation 8 (h), a pupil cannot be removed from the school roll until 20 days have passed. This procedure does not replace school attendance policy, the issuing of penalty notices for non-attendance or the 'In Year Fair Access' procedure.

Please note that CME referrals must include the following documents:

  • A completed CME referral form
  • Any other appropriate documentation

Complete an online CME referral form

or download a CME referral form

Please return the forms securely via:

  • Anycomms+ to 'Children Missing Education'
  • Post: School Admissions and CME, Herefordshire Council, Plough Lane, Hereford HR4 0LE
  • Secure email:


  • Email:
  • Direct line: 01432 383333
  • Post: School admissions, CME Referrals, Herefordshire Council, Plough Lane, Hereford HR4 0LE