From the Every Child Matters website, (bits relevant to Home Educators high-lighted in blue and red below):
Revised statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education
7-15 Duty to identify children not receiving a suitable education
16-20 Requirements for local authorities and relevant partners
Implementing the duty
21-26 Putting in place the right arrangements
27 How will the duty be assessed?
28-43 Children most at risk of missing education
44-49 How to consider whether it is appropriate to refer a case to social care or to the police
50-54 Specific Safeguarding Concerns
55-56 Prevention - reducing the risk
57 Developing systems for identifying children not receiving a suitable education and maintaining contact with them
57 Practical model of process steps
58-62 Receive information about a child
63-69 Notification routes
70-74 Partner agencies understand who and how to notify
Check if place of education already known
75-76 Access to rolls for all providers
77-78 Reasonable enquiry
79-80 Enquiry to another local authority in England
81-83 Useful information to share with another local authority in England
84-85 Local authority actions on receipt of an enquiry
86-94 Elective Home Education
95-100 Log details on database
101 Locate and contact family
102-105 Information Sharing
106 Determine child’s needs
107-108 Common Assessment Framework
109-110 Lead Professional
111 Eligibility criteria
Identify and access available provision and places
112 Current information about places
113-115 School Admissions Procedures
116 Multi-agency panels
Monitor attendance for all provision
117-119 Audit registers
120-122 Deletion procedures
123-124 Track and reconcile movements
125-128 Transfer of information
Appendix 1 Standard Data Definitions
Appendix 2 Relevant legislation
Appendix 3 Progress Checklist: Self Evaluation
Appendix 4 Useful Web-links
1. There is wide agreement about the outcomes we all want for every child – they should be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic wellbeing.
2. A key aspect of the Every Child Matters (ECM): Change for Children programme is that relevant agencies should work together locally through the Children’s Trust to design and deliver better and more integrated, preventative services to children and young people. The ECM reforms introduced a Common Assessment Framework, improved information sharing procedures, and the development of the Lead Professional role to support this approach. Implementation of the duty to identify children who are not receiving a suitable education, introduced by the Education and Inspections Act 2006, should be embedded in the local authority’s overarching preventative strategy, and through the Children’s Trust, ensure that these children receive the full range of services they need.
3. The guidance in this document aims to help local authorities to effectively implement the duty to identify children not receiving a suitable education. The guidance also demonstrates how implementation of this duty can help local authorities make progress towards a number of Government priorities that they have been asked to lead in order to improve outcomes for children and young people. These include:
• the ambitions described in the Children’s Plan;
• the Youth PSA – to increase the number of young people on the path to success; and
• targets in their Local Area Agreement against a range of indicators in the new National Indicator Set that are focused on children and young people.
4. Children not receiving a suitable education are at increased risk of a range of negative outcomes that could have long term damaging consequences for their life chances. For example they are at risk of not attaining the skills and qualifications they need to succeed in life, and are at significant risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) once they have reached the compulsory school leaving age. They could also be more vulnerable in one way or another. They may be from disadvantaged families (experiencing multiple risks such as poverty, substance misuse, mental ill-health and poor housing), travelling communities, immigrant families, be unaccompanied asylum seeking or trafficked children, or be at risk of neglect or abuse or disengaged from education.
5. Local authorities, through their Children’s Trust, must have robust measures in place both to identify quickly when a child is not receiving a suitable education, and to follow through with effective tracking and enquiry systems. These measures should be at the heart of the local strategies for preventing negative outcomes for children and young people, and ensuring their safety and well-being.
6. Local authorities and their partners should position their work to implement the duty as an integral part of their governance and strategic planning for discharging duties under sections 10 and 11 of the Children Act 2004. Guidance provided in this document reflects practice that local authorities have already demonstrated as being effective.
Duty to identify children not receiving a suitable education
7. This document is issued under the section 436A (inserted before section 437 in Chapter 2, Part 6 of the Education Act 1996 (school attendance) as amended by the Education and Inspections Act 2006), which provides that local authorities must have regard to statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State. This document provides that statutory guidance and applies to England only. Local authorities in England must take this guidance into account and, if they decide to depart from it, have clear reasons for doing so.
8. This document is a revised version of original statutory guidance issued in February 2007. It has been updated to place implementation of the duty in the revised strategic context following on from publication of the Children’s Plan (December 2007); to reflect priorities that have emerged since the original version was published; and to reflect local authorities’ initial experience of implementing the duty.
9. Section 436A requires all local authorities to make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children residing in their area who are not receiving a suitable education. In relation to children, by ‘suitable education’ we mean efficient full-time education suitable to her/his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.
10. The duty applies in relation to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than being at school, for example, at home, privately, or in alternative provision.
11. In order to help local authorities achieve consistency in how they share information whilst meeting this duty, this version of the guidance includes, at Appendix 1, a list of standard data definitions. The data definitions were produced taking into account the views of local authorities based on their experience of implementing the duty since its introduction in February 2007.
12. The duty does not apply in relation to children who are registered at a school who are not attending regularly. The duty complements and reinforces duties that already exist for schools to monitor attendance and it is important that local authorities work with schools to make sure they do it effectively. Schools already have a duty to monitor attendance through the daily attendance register and to make returns to local authorities where the attendance of individual pupils gives cause for concern. We also expect schools to identify and address underlying causes of absence, involving other agencies where appropriate. (Further information on the attendance duty is available at www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolattendance).
13. The Children's Plan described a vision for the 21st Century School, which showed how schools are more than just an important partner in the wider work to improve outcomes for children and young people. They should be at the centre of the local Children’s Trust, helping to drive forward local approaches that respond to the needs of all local children, not just those on the school roll, and enable children to receive the full range of services they need as soon as problems are identified. The same range of services should be available for children not attending school.
14. The implementation of the duty to identify children not receiving a suitable education needs to take into account that schools are a service which can quickly identify problems and issues, the potential for future problems, and intervene effectively, working with other services where necessary. The duty on schools to promote pupil well-being emphasises this contribution. DCSF will publish final guidance on how schools can meet the well-being duty early in 2009, which will be useful to consider alongside this statutory guidance
15. ContactPoint, to be implemented across England by mid 2009, will help local authorities discharge the duty by recording the place where a child is being educated, where that is known. Where it is known that a child is being educated at home, that would also be recorded. This will enable local authorities to focus their efforts on identifying children who are not receiving a suitable education, and putting in place the necessary support. ContactPoint will also show whether a Common Assessment Framework has been undertaken with a child, and whether the child has a ‘lead professional’ co-ordinating any support required. Further information on ContactPoint is at: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/contactpoint.
Requirements for local authorities and relevant partners
16. Local authorities are responsible for meeting the requirements under section 436A. They also need to put in place arrangements for joint working and appropriate information sharing with other local authorities and relevant partner agencies that come into contact with children and families. Implementation of the duty under section 436A should be integrated with, and not in isolation of, the wider range of duties placed on local authorities, and initiatives led locally, that aim to improve outcomes, and safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
17. The duty to identify children not receiving a suitable education can make a cross-cutting contribution to a number of local priorities and should strengthen and complement existing duties. Those leading the work to implement this duty will need to work closely with colleagues across the local authority area, e.g. Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards, and external partners whose work contributes to improving outcomes for children. It should be incorporated into the local Children’s Trust strategic planning and commissioning arrangements, which are made under section 17 of the Children Act 2004, and the cross-cutting arrangements of safeguarding and inter-agency co-operation to improve the well-being of children. See Children Act 2004 Guidance: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/strategy/guidance/).
18. Some of the key partner agencies are:
• Education (maintained schools, independent schools, Academies, Pupil Referral Units, special schools and City Technology Colleges)
• Children’s Social Care
• Health (Strategic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts)
• Police and police authorities
• Youth Offending Teams
• Community safety teams, anti-social behaviour teams
• Young Offender Institutions; Secure Training Centres; local authority Secure Children’s Homes
• Housing providers
Other important partners are:
• HM Revenue and Customs
• providers of Connexions
• statutory and voluntary youth services
• UK Border Agency
• the Fire and Rescue Service
• Other Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership agencies
• voluntary and community organisations, including faith groups
There may also be others, depending on local circumstances.
19. Information Sharing Guidance was published April 2006 and can be found on the Every Child Matters website: www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/deliveringservices/informationsharing/.
20. More detail on what is expected of parents, schools, local authorities and other agencies in relation to safeguarding children and providing a suitable education is in the “Relevant legislation” section of this guidance at Appendix 2.
IMPLEMENTING THE DUTY
Putting in place the right arrangements
21. The purpose of the duty is to make sure that children not receiving, or at risk of not receiving, a suitable education are identified quickly, and effective tracking systems and support arrangements are put in place. In line with the Children’s Plan expectation that all Children’s Trusts will have in place high quality arrangements by 2010 for all children and young people who need additional help, a speedy response when problems are first identified is crucial to implementing this duty. The longer a child misses out on education, the more likely those problems will become entrenched, and the more difficult it can be to respond effectively to their needs. Early intervention will enable the local authority and other partners in the Children’s Trust to ensure that action is taken to provide any child identified with a suitable education, and will also trigger activity between partner agencies that puts in place measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the child.
22. The experience of local authorities has shown that changes in five areas (highlighted in the table below) are required to achieve a robust system to identify children not receiving a suitable education. A key issue is the sharing of information when a child moves from one local authority area to another. The standards in this paragraph are the minimum that local authorities need to adopt to ensure they have effective systems in place to identify these children and once found action is taken as quickly as possible to provide support for them through the most appropriate agencies. Under each heading are questions to help authorities decide what needs to be done to meet these minimum standards (more detail on how to meet and embed these standards is at Appendix 3).
Strategic Management & Leadership
Does the local authority have a written policy - covering objectives, procedures, roles and responsibilities - agreed with partners concerning children not receiving a suitable education?
Are there arrangements to identify and provide the full range of services for children not receiving a suitable education embedded within the Children’s Trust strategic planning and commissioning arrangements. Is this translated into effective operational arrangements?
Is there regular monitoring of the processes/numbers by Senior Management, Lead Members and Children’s Trust partners?
Networks & Points of Contact
Has the local authority identified the key stakeholders (both statutory and non-statutory) to provide information about children/young people without suitable educational provision in the local authority area?
Has the local authority provided and publicised notification routes for all key stakeholders?
Does the local authority have a named contact point to receive details about children not receiving suitable education?
Are there clear responsibilities for this role or those to whom the duties are delegated?
Does the local authority maintain a database of children not currently in suitable education?
If so does the database include fields such as:
• Date child/young person referred in;
• Date of assessment, if necessary;
• Date form of provision determined;
• Date it was considered that home education provision was not suitable;
• Date moved into provision.
Does the local authority monitor the numbers of children/young people in the authority who are not receiving suitable education, including those new to the area or the country?
Are there clear access rules and procedures to ensure fair/safe data processing?
Provision Brokering Services
Does the local authority have clear processes for securing the support of other agencies where it is needed e.g. for welfare or health reasons?
Does the local authority have an agreed process for securing suitable educational provision for children once found?
Does the local authority monitor the pace children move into provision?
Does the local authority have the information systems in place to allow access to up to date information concerning availability of school places and availability of places with alternative providers?
Effective Pupil Tracking Systems
Does the local authority have systems in place to keep children engaged in the education that is suitable for them?
Does the local authority keep a record of children who have left educational providers (school, custody and alternative provision) without a known destination?
Does the local authority keep a record of children whose parents or carers, fathers as well as mothers, it considers are not providing them with a suitable education and a note of action it has taken to address these concerns?
Does the local authority follow up children at regular intervals until they are registered with a new provider?
Does the local authority have an agreed system with schools concerning children leaving provision that maximises the contribution schools can make to preventing children not receiving a suitable education?
Does the local authority have in place arrangements to share information with other local authorities concerning children who move between areas?
Does the local authority support and encourage schools to transfer files via s2s?
Does the local authority have an identified officer as database administrator for s2s with responsibility for the Lost Pupil Database?
Does the local authority upload to and download from the searchable area of the s2s website known as the Lost Pupil Database?
23. In order to implement these changes, local authorities should select, according to local circumstances, from the practical model of process steps described later in this guidance (from paragraph 57 onwards). These process steps reflect practice that local authorities have already demonstrated as being effective. The key processes are:
• receive information about a child;
• check if place of education already known;
• log details on database;
• locate and contact family;
• determine child’s needs;
• identify and access available provision and places;
• monitor attendance for all provision; and
• track and reconcile movements.
24. By implementing these changes, with the Children’s Trust clearly in the lead, the majority of the ‘machinery’ local authorities need to be able to identify children not receiving a suitable education, and prevent other negative outcomes, will be in place. Local authorities can then determine the specific detailed arrangements that work best in their area, that not only meet this statutory duty, but also enable them to contribute to a range of work aimed at improving outcomes for local children and young people.
25. It is often lack of consistency across local authority boundaries that allow a child to get “lost” when moving from one area to the other, or between agencies/services. Vulnerable children are often already identified and monitored by other teams and agencies within the authority, and those receiving a suitable education are monitored by schools and other teams when being educated otherwise than at school. The processes in this guidance are designed to close any gaps, and minimise the risks that are part of transition points, by ensuring there is a clear route in place, understood by all parties involved, and for them to notify a named person(s) when a child is identified as not receiving a suitable education.
26. The alternative provision White Paper, ‘Back on Track’, which was published in May 2008, set out plans for all children and young people moving in and out of alternative provision to have an information passport. Guidance on this will be published by early 2009. If a pupil in alternative provision moves to another local authority’s area, the information passport should be sent to the new local authority, so that they can use it to help them decide on appropriate provision for the pupil, and pass it on in turn to the new provider or school. The local authority named officer for alternative provision in each of the authorities should take responsibility for this. We published the specifications for the named officer on 23 October and this can be found at: www.dcsf.gov.uk/exclusions/alternative_provision_policies/index.cfm
How will the duty be assessed?
27. Inspectorates, led by the Audit Commission and including Ofsted, are currently developing new arrangements for assessing the delivery of improved outcomes for local people in an area – the comprehensive area assessment (CAA). CAA will be introduced from April 2009, with the first reports published in November 2009. It will consider prospects for delivering priority outcomes for the area, including those in Local Area Agreements and those covered indicators in the national indicator set. CAA will embrace within its scope services by local statutory and non-statutory partners who are contributing to the delivery of outcomes in an area. It will pay particular attention to services for those whose circumstances make them vulnerable, so inspectors may assess services for children not receiving a suitable education. Ofsted will lead a new programme of inspections of services for safeguarding vulnerable children, including those in care. Individual inspections may also be triggered where CAA identifies poor or uncertain prospects for improved outcomes.
Children most at risk of missing education
28. Some children who are missing from education can be identified and supported back into education quickly; others who have experienced more complex problems, face tougher obstacles to getting back into suitable education. When developing a policy and procedures for children not receiving a suitable education, local authorities should consider the reasons why children go missing from education and the circumstances that can lead to this happening. This includes considering the important transition points during childhood and adolescence that if not handled carefully – by the child, their family, and the agencies they work with – can intensify problems and put the child more at risk of negative outcomes. The local authority should develop systems to close any gaps that are part of these transition points and through the Children’s Trust ensure the child receives the full range of services they need which may be a necessary precursor to them returning to mainstream education. The systems should aim to enable all children to receive a suitable education, but also promote a more effective response in instances when a child does go missing from education.
29. Children who are not receiving a suitable education will often miss out on the benefits of other measures, for example, they are likely to miss out on the ongoing information advice and guidance provided through schools including an offer of learning under the September Guarantee. This could have long term consequences in relation to participation, when over 16 years old, in education, training and employment.
30. Children can go missing either when they fail to register with a school, or when they fall out of the education system and there is no systematic process in place to identify them and ensure they re-engage with appropriate provision (which may include services outside of school to meet their needs). Their personal circumstances or those of their families may contribute to the withdrawal process and the failure to make a successful transition. For example they may:
• fail to start appropriate provision and hence never enter the system;
• cease to attend, due to illegal exclusion or withdrawal; or
• fail to complete a transition between providers (e.g. being unable to find a suitable school place after moving to a new local authority area, or after leaving a custodial establishment).
31. Some children living in certain circumstances face more obstacles to achieving the 5 ECM Outcomes and this can include not receiving a suitable education. Amongst these are (this list is not exclusive):
• children and young people under the supervision of the youth justice system
• children from families fleeing domestic violence
• children of homeless families, perhaps living in temporary accommodation, house of multiple occupancy or Bed and Breakfast;
• young runaways (for further information, see the Young Runaways Action Plan – DCSF 2008)
• children in families involved in anti-social behaviour
• children who are on the child protection register
• children affected by substance and/or alcohol misuse (see the Youth Alcohol Action Plan- DCSF 2008, and the Home Office’s Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives website)
• unaccompanied asylum seekers; children of refugees and asylum seeking families
• children in new immigrant families, who are not yet established in the UK and may not have fixed addresses
• children of migrant worker families (who may not be familiar with the education system)
• children of families who can be highly mobile, e.g. parents in the armed forces, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families
• children who do not receive a suitable education whilst being educated at home
• children who have been bullied
• children who have suffered discrimination on the grounds of race, faith, gender, disability or sexuality
• children at risk of sexual exploitation, including children who have been trafficked to, or within the UK
• children at risk of “honour”-based violence including forced marriage or female genital mutilation
• looked after children/children in care; children who go missing from care
• children who are privately fostered
• young carers
• teenage parents
• children who are permanently excluded from school, particularly those excluded unlawfully e.g. for problematic behaviour or offending (see paragraph 35 for more information on excluded pupils)
• children whose parents take them abroad for a prolonged period
• children who were registered with a school that has closed, and have not made the transition to another school
• children of parents with mental health problems
• children of parents with learning difficulties
• children with long term medical or emotional problems.
32. Children who meet the descriptions above can have needs that go beyond the reach of universal services. When local authorities identify/are made aware of children/young people in any of these groups who may not be receiving a suitable education, they should seek advice from the relevant specialist team/partner agency, including where appropriate Targeted Youth Support arrangements led by the Children’s Trust, on how best to proceed. See:
Further details on actions to take in certain circumstances are shown below.
Potential vulnerability due to high mobility
33. Children from families of members of the Armed Forces are likely to experience high mobility both within and outside the UK. Moves can be made at quite short notice, with future home address and school not known until just before the move. Schools and local authorities can make enquiries through the MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS). CEAS can also liaise between local authorities, and with devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Service Children’s Education (SCE) also keeps records of all pupils in Service schools overseas. Enquiries about children in Service schools overseas should also be made via CEAS. The CEAS helpline can be contacted on 01980 618244.
34. Children in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) families often have a mobile lifestyle and local authority Traveller Education Support Services (TESS) already advise schools on the best strategies to include these children and promote their achievement and engagement in school activities. There are times when the high mobility of some of these children means they can be more at risk of going missing from education, for example, highly mobile GRT families who are living on unauthorised sites and are subject to unpredictable forced movement which hinders access to school. Local authorities should work closely with their TESS in these cases to ensure the correct procedures are followed and that distance learning packages, including Electronic Learning and Mobility Programme (ELAMP), if available, are supplied by schools to GRT pupils whose travelling arrangements are known in advance. More information is available at: http://www.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/primary/publications/inclusion/tess/.
Pupils excluded from school
35. The Education (Provision of Full-Time Education for Excluded Pupils) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/1870) require local authorities to ensure that suitable full-time education is made available to permanently excluded pupils, including pupils excluded from pupil referral units from the sixth school day of exclusion. The Regulations likewise require relevant schools to arrange full-time education from the sixth school day of fixed period exclusion. During the first five days of a permanent exclusion the local authority should arrange to assess the pupil's needs and consider how to meet them including any special educational needs the pupil may have. This should involve undertaking a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) process where one has not already been carried out (see paragraphs 107-108 for further details on the CAF). The information passport, which was proposed in the White Paper, ‘Back on Track’, will contain the information needed to identify appropriate provision and curriculum – the core entitlement - for pupils moving into alternative provision. Guidance on the core entitlement, the information passport and the personal learning plan will be published early in 2009.
36. If it becomes apparent that a child has been unofficially excluded the local authority will need to challenge the school as this practice is unlawful. More information on exclusions, including the statutory guidance, is available at the teachernet site: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/behaviour/exclusion/
Children and Young People Supervised by the Youth Justice System
37. Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) in each local authority supervise a range of young people (aged primarily between 8 and 18 years old) who are often at risk of disengagement from education (including young people who have been sentenced for committing crimes and young people who have been identified as at risk of offending). YOTs therefore have a unique role in working with young people who are at risk and who may not be attending school or other provision. Children's Trusts should have strong relationships with YOTs, with clear protocols for joint working to identify children not receiving suitable education (or training or employment) and to identify suitable provision. YOTs must identify those who are not receiving suitable education through the ONSET or ASSET assessment and should then use the agreed partnership working arrangements with the local Children's Trust to ensure that appropriate full time education (or training or employment) is secured as soon as possible.
38. Such joint working will help local authorities achieve a number of important objectives. For example, one of the key indicators underpinning the Youth PSA - to increase the number of young people on the path to success, - is to 'reduce the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system'. Also, the new National Indicator Set also includes an indicator to ensure that at least 90% of young offenders are engaged in appropriate full time provision (education, training or employment) at the end of their sentence.
39. Young offenders who are sent to custody - either a Young Offender Institution, a Secure Training Centre or a local authority Secure Children's Home – should not be classed as ‘missing from education’, as all are required to be in full-time education and training within their custody setting, and education provision forms a central part of custodial regimes. However there remain some significant challenges. The placement of children into custody is managed nationally by the Youth Justice Board, and young people are often placed in custody in different local authority areas from where they usually live. Therefore it is important that YOTs work with their Children's Trust partners to liaise about the location of young offenders in custody and their planned release date. Where there is a change in the planned release date (e.g. as a result of early release) the YOTs should inform the Children's Trust, for example the named lead local authority contact for identifying children not receiving a suitable education.
40. Education and training forms a critical element of resettlement and rehabilitation for children and young people leaving custody and it is important that they are engaged in suitable provision as soon as possible on their release. It is good practice for the place of custody, YOT and its partners in the Children’s Trust to work together at the beginning and during the child’s time in custody to ensure appropriate full time provision is secured for the child before they are released, in order that they can enter education provision as soon as they are released. More information on the relationship between YOTs and Children’s Trusts can be found at: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/aims/childrenstrusts/
as well as:
41. Where the child is registered at a school, college, or alternative provider prior to them entering custody, it is good practice for the YOT to work with its Children's Trust partners to inform the provider and for the child’s place to be held open for their return to the community whenever possible and appropriate for the child’s rehabilitation and personal learning and development. Specific guidance on Pupil Registration Regulations “Keeping Pupil Registers” can be found at:
Pupils in families involved in persistent anti-social behaviour
42. Family Intervention Projects are currently in place in 65 local authorities working with some of the most challenging families. Projects ensure that support is in place for all family members. A lead key worker is assigned to manage or ‘grip’ the family’s problems, co-ordinate the delivery of services and use a combination of support and sanction to motivate the family to change their behaviour. Many of the children in these projects are not attending school for a range of reasons which are often linked to children’s behaviour, and/or anti-social behaviour in the wider family which has led to disruption in their housing circumstances.
Pupils at risk of harm 43. Children may be removed from education or prevented from attending as a result or symptom of them suffering from abuse or neglect. In all circumstances where there are concerns over a child’s welfare, a referral should be made to the local authority children's social care. Local authority staff should refer to "Working Together to Safeguard Children" (HM Government, 2006) and “What to do if you are worried a child is being abused” for further guidance. More guidance on what to consider is given below.
How to consider whether it is appropriate to refer a case to children’s social care or to the police.
44. When a child is absent from education, it is possible that this is due to other behaviour, associations or activity that puts them at risk of harm. This could be of their own choice or by the actions of another person or persons influencing their behaviour and choices. They could be the victims of abuse, neglect or crime, including sexual exploitation, forced marriage, trafficking, domestic servitude or abduction. It is important to recognise when young people are in situations where they are vulnerable and to take appropriate action.
45. In any case where there is concern for a child’s welfare this should be referred to local authority social care services through the local Children’s Trust. If there is reason to suspect a crime has been committed, the police should also be involved, Where there is genuine concern that young person’s safety and/or well-being is at risk, it is essential to take action quickly, as delays can see problems escalate, and also hamper an effective investigation of the circumstances in which the child is living. To ascertain whether it is appropriate to make a referral to children’s social care and/or the police, a number of issues should be considered, listed below.
• Have there been suspicions in the past concerning this child and family members, which together with any sudden disappearance from education provision are worrying?
• Have there been any past concerns about the child associating with significantly older young people or adults? For example, are they picked up from school by older males in cars who are not related to them?
• Was there a significant incident prior to the child’s unexplained absence from education provision?
• Is the child/young person the subject of a child protection plan (on the Child Protection Register) or has there been past involvement with children’s social care services about matters of child protection concern?
• Is the child/young person looked after by a local authority?
• Is there current children’s social care involvement with this child or one of their siblings and their parents, fathers as well as mothers?
• Is there a history of mobility without full explanations as to why?
• Are there issues raised by the child or by their family’s immigration or asylum status?
• Has there been school or local authority intervention in relation to attendance, e.g. visits by Education Welfare Service, parenting contracts and fast-track to attendance?
• Is there a good reason to believe that the child’s absence may be the result of them being the victim of a crime? The following questions could assist a judgement:
• Is the child’s absence from school very sudden, out of character, and without any satisfactory explanation being provided by their family or carer?
• Has the child/young person said something to give rise to concern?
• Has the child/young person gone missing with their family?
• Has the child/young person gone missing without their family?
• Is there any reason related to the child’s ethnicity or culture to believe that the child/young person is at risk of harm?
46. Getting answers to these questions could involve talking to the child’s friends at school, or making enquiries of neighbours of the child’s home.
47. If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then a referral to children’s social care services within the Children’s Trust and/or the police should be made - local procedures should be followed in line with Working together to safeguard children guidance which can be found at: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/workingtogether/.
48. Referrals to the police regarding children who are absent from education rely on established effective liaison arrangements between Children’s Trust and the local police. Best practice would involve arrangements being underpinned by an agreed protocol setting out individual responsibilities and responses to incidents such as these.
49. Many schools already have an allocated police officer under Safer School Partnership (SSP) arrangements, and all schools are being encouraged to have such arrangements. SSP officers are a valuable resource for the school, parents, and the Children's Trust to liaise with when there are cases of children not receiving, or at risk of not receiving, a suitable education, and when there are concerns about the child's safety and well-being. Guidance on mainstreaming SSPs is available from the Every Child Matters website: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/ete/ssp/
Specific Safeguarding Concerns – Further Guidance
Child trafficking and/or sexual exploitation
50. In some cases, young people may go missing or run away due to trafficking, or following grooming by adults who will seek to exploit them sexually. Further guidance on safeguarding children who may have been trafficked is available from: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/socialcare/safeguarding/. New statutory guidance on safeguarding children from sexual exploitation will be launched in early 2009, and the consultation and will be available from www.dcsf.gov.uk.
51. Being removed from education is a recognised symptom for children and young people who may be facing a forced marriage. If this is suspected, local authority children's social care should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Forced Marriage Unit where experienced caseworkers are able to offer support and guidance. They can be contacted on 020 7008 0151. Care should be taken not to approach the family or attempt to mediate if forced marriage is suspected.
52. New statutory guidance on dealing with forced marriage was published in November 2008, setting out the responsibilities of agencies dealing with forced marriage issues. This can be downloaded from www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage.
Practice guidelines for education professionals and social workers are also available from http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/fco-in-action/nationals/forced-marriage-unit/info-for-professionals. These will be updated in early 2009.
Missing / unexplained absence
53. There are also some circumstances when a registered pupil of compulsory school age is absent without explanation. Most cases are relatively minor whereby the child returns home quickly or is not believed to be in any serious danger. However, there are more serious cases, including those where a child may become a victim of crime, such as being abducted by his/her parent, or abduction by a stranger. It is best practice for school administrative staff or support staff to contact parents on any day a registered pupil is absent without explanation (i.e. First Day Contact), including in cases where the pupil skips lessons after registration. By contacting the parents/carers the school also ensures that the parents/carers, mothers and fathers, are aware that the child is not in school enabling any parent/carer to take steps, where necessary, to establish that the child is safe. Further information on first day contact is in the “Tackling it Together toolkit” at: http:www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolattendance/goodpractice/tackling.cfm.
54. Other sources of information on where to look for advice about missing children are also available via some non-Government organisations, for example: the National Missing Peoples Helpline (the “Education” section on the website www.missingpeople.org.uk contains information which may be useful); also the Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT) website http://www.pact-online.org; and support in relation to international child abduction is available from the voluntary organisation ‘reunite’ - www.reunite.org.
Prevention - reducing the risk of children not receiving a suitable education
55. Local authorities, with their partners, have a range of approaches to reducing the risk of children not receiving a suitable education, and of avoiding contact with agencies with responsibilities for ensuring their safety and well-being. Existing good practice broadly falls into four categories where the local authority introduces measures to:
• reduce the likelihood that children fall out of the education system, such as audits of the rolls and registers of schools (an audit for local authorities and schools to use is available at: www.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/secondary/keystage3/behaviour/focus/attendance_manual/resources);
• identify children who are not receiving a suitable education at home and use existing section 437 powers to issue a school attendance order if needed;
• identify and locate children who are not receiving a suitable education, such as via school attendance and exclusions sweeps and the provision of named points of contact to receive notification of children from other agencies;
• re-engage the children with appropriate educational provision, for example via multi-agency panels, to broker admissions.
56. Local approaches to reducing the risk of children not receiving a suitable education, should take account of the following:
a) the pivotal role of parents. Following the successful pilot of Parent Support Advisers in 20 local authorities, funding for these professionals has been provided to all authorities from August 2008. The Advisers and other similar professionals work with parents to improve children’s behaviour and school attendance, offering advice with parenting, and providing support for families at the first sign a child or young person may be experiencing behavioural or emotional issues. In many cases Parent Support Advisers may be the first point of contact between parents and schools, and where particular issues are raised they are well placed to refer parents to the relevant specialist agencies. The Training and Development Agency has collated many examples of good practice involving Parent Support Advisers, which can be found on their website - please see www.tda.gov.uk.
b) the need to link to the wider remit of the local authority to safeguard the welfare of all children. Sometimes there are concerns about a child’s welfare, including the concerns of school staff or others delivering services to children through the work of the Children’s Trust partners. When such concerns exist then established Local Safeguarding Children Board procedures must be followed. Detailed information about Local Safeguarding Children Boards can be found at: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/socialcare/safeguarding/lscb/.
c) the need to link to the implementation of the duty for maintained schools to promote the well-being of pupils, set out in section 21 of the Education Act 2002 as amended by the Education and Inspections Act 2006 for maintained . Final guidance underpinning the well-being duty will be available by spring 2009 from www.dcsf.gov.uk.
Developing systems for identifying children not receiving a suitable education and maintaining contact with them
Practical model of process steps
57. Local authorities should select, according to local circumstances, from the practical model of process steps given below. These process steps reflect practice that local authorities have already demonstrated as being effective:
Receive information about a child
Clear responsibilities for appropriate action
58. All local authorities must have:
“A named individual responsible for receiving information about children of compulsory school age in their area who may not be receiving a suitable education at school or otherwise, and for brokering support for them through the most appropriate agencies.”[Source IRT: Guidance on Information Sharing to Improve Services for Children – published by the then DFES in 2003].
59. This responsibility is determined depending on local circumstances. Examples of how some local authorities have taken this forward are:
• recruitment of a dedicated pupil tracking officer;
• senior management lead with delegation to others; or
• a small team who may receive notifications from different sources.
60. If local authorities decide to recruit a dedicated pupil tracking officer, robust recruitment and vetting procedures should be followed, as appropriate, to help prevent unsuitable people from working with children. www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/socialcare/safeguarding/ .
61. Arrangements to discharge the duty should be included in the local Children’s Trust strategic planning and commissioning arrangements, and the cross-cutting arrangements of safeguarding and inter-agency co-operation to improve wellbeing of children. The development of Targeted Youth Support Teams (TYS) within the Integrated Youth Support Service will also be important to take into account. TYS teams, aligned with the provision of extended services through schools, make a significant contribution to the well-being of children. Every local authority will have Targeted Youth Support arrangements in place, providing earlier intervention to young people whose needs go beyond that which universal services can address, yet who do not always meet the thresholds for specialist services. Please visit:
62. The Director of Children’s Services, Lead Member for Children’s Services and other Children’s Trust partners, as appropriate, should monitor procedures and numbers.
63. Information about children not receiving a suitable education can be received from within local authority boundaries (from colleagues within schools, members of the public, the local authority, and other agencies, e.g. Traveller Education Services) and/or from other local authorities around the country.
64. Providers of the Connexions service are required to hold details of all 13-19 year olds and where they are being educated on their local Client Caseload Information System (CCIS). Connexions Personal Advisors offer information and advice in schools and may have identified a young person moving into the area. Connexions providers also have cross border arrangements with neighbouring services in order to help keep contact with young people as they move from one area to another. Local authorities are expected to ensure that information about children missing education is passed to their Connexions provider so that they can be recorded on CCIS. This will ensure that the young person gets support at 16, including an offer of learning under the September Guarantee.
65. Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) who work with young people who offend are well placed to identify young people out of education. The ONSET or ASSET assessment, completed by the YOT, is designed to identify educational and other needs at specific periods of the young person’s relationship with the YOT or secure establishment.
66. Local authorities may receive notification about a child via School Attendance and Exclusions Sweeps run in conjunction with the police and other agencies. More information about School Attendance and exclusions sweeps can be found at: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolattendance/truancysweeps.
67. Notifications could be about children who are actually receiving an education, which is being delivered by a route not known to the local authority at that time: e.g. independent schools, home education, or alternative provision. When the route of education has been determined it should be logged on the local authority database for future reference.
68. UK Border Agency - UKBA (http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk) routinely informs local authorities about children subject to immigration controls coming to stay in their area, such as:
• all cases of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), who will generally become looked after by a local authority;
• children who are part of a family which is seeking asylum - in such cases, when a family is provided with accommodation, the provider responsible for the provision of their accommodation is required to notify the local authority; and,
• children who are non-European Economic Area nationals who arrive in the UK to stay with someone other than their parent(s) or close relatives (i.e. a private fostering arrangement).
69. In addition, there are two points of contact provided by UKBA for local authorities to verify the immigration status of children:
• for enquires about the immigration status of individuals who are not claiming asylum, contact the ‘LA Desk’ in the UKBA Enquiries Unit on: Tel: 0845 601 2298; Fax: 020 8196 3049; and
• for enquires about the immigration status of individuals who are claiming asylum, contact the UKBA ‘LA Communications Team’ on: Tel: 020 8760 4527.
Partner Agencies understand who and how to notify
70. Awareness should be raised amongst Children’s Trust partners and other agencies about how the local authority will be informed about children not receiving a suitable education, to ensure that all of them employ this route consistently. It will sometimes be the case that another partner or agency is aware of the arrival or existence of a child, living in the local authority area but not in education, before the local authority is aware, for example, children of migrant worker families. There is a higher chance of this being the case in relation to children in the ‘at risk’ groups identified earlier in this guidance, as in some circumstances, steps may be taken to avoid contact with statutory authorities.
71. The first step is to identify all likely routes of information, for example:
• school secretaries/administrators/Designated Senior Persons
• Pupil Referral Units and alternative education providers
• housing providers
• homeless hostels
• Missing People Helpline
• Accident and Emergency
• NHS Walk-in services
• Parent partnership services
• Children’s Social Care
• Youth Offending Teams
• Fire and Rescue Services
• Other agencies involved in Crime and Disorder Reduction partnerships;
• Health Visitors
• UK Border Agency
• Education Welfare Officers (Education Social Workers)
• SEN caseworkers
• Traveller Education Support Services (TESS)
• General Public
• Voluntary and community organisations.
72. Possible routes for raising awareness with Children’s Trust partners and other agencies (which will need to be repeated on a regular basis due to staffing changes, etc) could be by:
• circulating (either online or via hard copy) the name of the Children’s Trust/local authority named individual with telephone number and email address, including information about how to inform the Children’s Trust/local authority about children not receiving a suitable education;
• entry in Directory of Services;
• events/workshops with partner agencies, including voluntary and community groups;
• School Secretaries’ Conferences; and
• leaflets, and other publicity materials.
73. When raising awareness with partner agencies it is useful to remind them that parents may lawfully educate their children at home . Where a local authority is satisfied that a parent is providing their child with a suitable full time education, the child is not the target of this duty. However, the local authority does have the power to issue a school attendance order if it appears that the parent is not providing a suitable education. Education of children at home by their parents is not in itself a cause for concern about the child’s welfare.
74. Local authorities should agree arrangements with the agencies with whom they need to share information. Guidance on information sharing and integrated working can be found at www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/deliveringservices/informationsharing/.
Check if place of education already known
Access to rolls for all providers
75. When the named person(s) receive notification about a child believed to be in their area it may be necessary to check the child’s name and other details, if available, against all alternative provision rolls in the local area held by the local authority and schools to see if they are already registered. One way to achieve this is to have all names of school-aged children kept on a central database which is frequently updated and can be checked by the staff members who require access. (This is not a requirement to set up new IT systems for children not receiving a suitable education. See paragraph 95 for suggestions for utilising existing databases).
76. Another way to check a child’s name and other details would be via communication links with all educational providers: this includes all schools; Pupil Referral Units; providers of alternative provision (local authorities and schools should establish a contractual agreement that providers of alternative provision will keep a register to check if the child is registered with them) and custodial institutions. “Guidance for Local Authorities and Schools: Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provision” and “Commissioning Alternative Provision – Guidance for Local Authorities and Schools” can be found on the Teachernet website:
http://publications.teachernet.gov.uk/ (ref: LEA/0024/2005 and DCSF-00758-2008). If email is used then careful consideration should be given to what information is sent via a relatively insecure medium. The last section of this guide describes the School2School (s2s) website, where a secure messaging facility is available.
77. When making “reasonable enquiry, to ascertain where the pupil is” as referred to in Regulation 8(1)(f)(iii) and (h)(iii) of the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006 http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolattendance/ it is reasonable to expect that the appropriate team in the local authority will complete and record the following actions:
• check local databases within the local authority (including ContactPoint when implemented);
• follow local information sharing arrangements and where possible make enquiries via other local databases e.g. those of housing providers, health services, police, Youth Justice Services, social care services, the Inland Revenue;
• check with agencies known to be involved with family;
• check with local authority from which child moved originally, if known;
• where appropriate check with the Youth Offending Team responsible for the child’s supervision or with the custodial institution from which a child has been released;
• check with any local authority to which a child may have moved (see below);
• check with the local authority where the child lives, if different from where the school is;
• in the case of children from families of those in the Armed Forces, check with the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) on 01980 618244; and
• home visit(s) made by appropriate team, following local guidance concerning risk assessment and if appropriate make enquiries with neighbour(s).
78. Making these enquiries may not always lead to location of the child, but it will provide a steer on what action should be taken next, for example, contact the police and, in cases where there may be concerns for the safety of a child who has travelled abroad, contact the Foreign Office.
Enquiry to another local authority in England
79. In the first instance an enquiry via the phone should be made. Secure systems should be used to appropriately share personal information. If an address is being provided then the correct person at the other local authority should be identified first. If further information needs to be sent - secure messaging is available using s2s.
80. Local authorities should not make “blanket” enquires (by email or hard copy). Contacting all local authorities with a list of children asking them to search their databases is seen as poor practice and the majority of local authorities will ignore this request, as it is time consuming with little reward (very rare that they find the child in their area). It is also not secure. Best practice is for local authorities to carry out thorough local checks in their own authority area before contacting specific local authorities that they believe to be linked to the child/young person that they are looking for.
Useful information to share with another local authority in England
81. To enable local authorities to make their best efforts to search for a child/young person on behalf of the enquiring local authority the following basic information could be shared (as appropriate) with the named officer:
• Name (plus any know aliases)
• Date of Birth
• Parents/carers names including who has parental responsibility
• Siblings names
• Previous Address
• Previous school and date of last attendance
• Possible new address and school if known or suspected
• Previous home education
• Date child/young person left area
• If recent entry to UK - their country of origin.
82. Care must be taken to ensure information is factual and evidence based. (Also consideration should be given to guidance on “custodians of child protection register”: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/socialcare/safeguarding/missing/).
83. The following factors can help to identify if the child is at risk of negative outcomes:
• reason for leaving if known
• the local authority considers the child is not receiving a suitable education whilst being educated at home
• the child is or has been the subject of a child protection plan
• the child is/was looked after by a local authority
• the child is/was privately fostered
• the child is an unaccompanied asylum seeker or a member of an asylum seeking family or family otherwise subject to immigration control
• child is, or was, subject to the youth justice supervision
• any interventions for poor attendance (including prosecutions pending);
• SEN Status
• reason for believing child has gone to this particular local authority
• evidence gathered from making the enquiries described at paragraph 77.
Local authority actions on receipt of an enquiry
84. When another local authority has provided an address, the family should be contacted as soon as possible (which would be carried out by the relevant team in the local authority, e.g. Education Welfare Service, or Children’s Social Care). An assessment of vulnerability based on the information provided should be made prior to any home visit. The level of priority should be based on the information provided which will indicate the level of vulnerability of the child/young person. Unless concerns justify an immediate visit, initial contact should be made in writing before calls or visits are made.
85. If no address is provided but there is reasonable evidence to suggest a child/young person could have moved to the area then check with local schools including independent schools via the local authority database, or a secure communication medium. Also follow local information sharing arrangements and where possible make enquiries via other local databases e.g. those of housing providers, health and social care services, police, Inland Revenue. Whatever the result of the search, the enquiring local authority will need a response.
Elective Home Education
86. Parents of children who are of compulsory school age have a duty to ensure that they receive an efficient, full time education, suitable to their ages, abilities, aptitudes and any special educational needs they may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise (section 7 of the Education Act 1996). Some parents decide to provide suitable education for their children by educating them at home.
87. Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 requires local authorities to make arrangements to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children who are not pupils at schools and who are not otherwise receiving suitable education. In order to comply with this duty local authorities need to make arrangements which will as far as possible enable them to determine whether any children who are not pupils at schools, such as those being educated at home, are receiving suitable education. In order to do this local authorities should make inquiries with parents educating children at home about the educational provision being made for them. The procedures to be followed with respect to such investigations are set out in the EHE Guidelines, 2.7-2.11 and 3.4-3.6.
88. Where parents decide to withdraw their child from school and notify the proprietor [“proprietor”, in relation to a school, means the person or body of persons responsible for the management of the school so that, in relation to a community, foundation or voluntary or community or foundation special school, it means the governing body (s579, Education Act 1996)] in writing that the child is receiving education at home, the proprietor must delete the child from the admissions register unless the child is the subject of a current School Attendance Order (see regulation 8(1)(a) and (d) of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006) (‘the Pupil Registration Regulations’) at www.statutelaw.gov.uk). If a parent on whom a School Attendance Order has been served fails to comply with the requirements of the Order they are guilty of an offence under section 443 of the Education Act 1996, unless they prove that the child is receiving a suitable education otherwise than at school.
89. It is the duty of the proprietor of the school to inform the local authority of the deletion and the reason for it, no later than when the pupil’s name is deleted from the register (regulation 12(3) of the Pupil Registration Regulations 2006). The Pupil Registration Regulations apply to all schools: maintained; independent; Pupil Referral Units; special schools; City Technology Colleges; and Academies.
90. Children with statements of SEN can be educated at home. The duty of the parent remains to provide a suitable education for the child. Where the local authority maintains a statement for the child, the authority is responsible for arranging that the special educational provision specified in the statement is made for the child, unless the child’s parent has made suitable arrangements (section 324(5)(a) of the Education Act 1996). If the parent’s arrangements are suitable, the local authority is relieved of their duty to arrange the provision directly, but it still remains the local authority’s duty to ensure the child’s special educational needs are met.
91. Local authorities should keep a record of children who are known to be educated at home by parents. Parents are not, however, required to inform the local authority if they decide to home educate a child who has not previously attended school.
92. In order to discharge their duties in relation to children not receiving an education, local authorities should make inquiries with parents about whether their home educated children are receiving a suitable education. The Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities make clear that parents who home educate may take a number of equally valid approaches to educational provision for their children.
93. Though it is not the subject of this guidance, local authorities have a duty under section 437 of the Education Act 1996 (School Attendance Orders) to act if it appears to them that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. Further information is available in “Ensuring Children’s Right to Education” at: www.dcsf.gov.uk/behaviourandattendance/
94. Local authorities can insist on seeing a home educated child if there is cause for concern about the child’s safety and welfare (section 47 of the Children Act 1989). Where there are concerns about the child’s safety and welfare, Local Safeguarding Children Board procedures must be followed.
Log details on database
95. The practical model shown at paragraph 57 does not involve a requirement to set up new IT systems for children not receiving a suitable education. The following are suggestions on how to utilise existing databases.
96. Some authorities hold information on a centrally held database (either a commercial system or one developed locally), and a periodic download of information from schools onto such a system (e.g. monthly) will reasonably current information is held. The individual with responsibility for monitoring pupil registration and co-ordinating pupil mobility, checks any names notified against the data held in the central database.
97. ContactPoint will help local authorities fulfil their responsibilities for identifying children not receiving a suitable education by recording the place where a child is being educated, where that is known. ContactPoint will also record whether a Common Assessment Framework has been undertaken with a child and whether the child has a ‘lead professional’. More information can be found at: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/deliveringservices/contactpoint.
98. Monitoring by senior management will be a helpful component of effective systems. Consideration should be given to the form in which data is held. Also to monitor the speed with which children progress into provision after being found, it will be necessary to record the appropriate dates:
• date referred in;
• date of assessment, if necessary;
• date form of provision determined;
• date moved into provision.
99. In order to monitor the patterns in the previous history of the children then both date and location of last known educational placement would be useful, as well as form of provision recommended and accessed.
100. Some local authorities also helpfully include in their database, as a subgroup, all those children of compulsory school age living in their authority but not in educational provision. The other information allows local authorities to monitor the educational status and progress of recognised vulnerable groups.
Locate and contact family
101. The practical model shown at paragraph 57 includes a step to establish a process by which the local authority determines the child’s address, parent or legal guardian and establishes communication with the child and parent/guardian or refers the contact to the local authority in which the child is resident.
102. To locate children and young people when it is believed they are resident in your local authority, it may be necessary to share information with other agencies (as listed in paragraph 18). Agencies will include many who are already notifying the local authority when they encounter a child not receiving a suitable education.
103. Any sharing of information must comply with the law relating to confidentiality, data protection and human rights – guidance to support practitioners making information sharing decisions on a case by case basis is available at: http://wwweverychildmatters.gov.uk/resources-and-practice/IG00340/
The local authority should work within their authority’s arrangements for recording information and within any local information sharing protocols that are in place.
104. Children who are both not receiving a suitable education and whose current residential whereabouts are unknown are likely to be deemed vulnerable.
105. It is in the interests of other agencies for children to be enrolled in education and attending regularly, (whether at school or otherwise), not only because of the welfare of the child but also in order that the agency can fulfil their duties.
Determine child’s needs
106. If a child has been identified as not receiving a suitable education it is important that any process to access education is as speedy as possible. Parental and child preference should be taken into account. In order to ensure a successful return to education, an assessment and intervention plan, that takes into account the reasons the child or young person has become disengaged from education, e.g. bullying, will assist the process of successful re-engagement. Local authorities and schools will need to work with their Children’s Trust partners to ensure the full range of support services is available when they are needed. Guidance on re-integration can be found at:
Common Assessment Framework
107. A Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is available to help in assessing needs and improving services to children, young people and families. There is no need to assess every child using the CAF format, however, this assessment may be required if the child’s needs are unclear, and can help identify other services which may need to be involved. An assessment using the CAF will enable a child’s needs to be assessed in a holistic way, to decide what response is needed. If it is identified that the child has complex needs then a referral for a more specialist assessment appropriate to the child’s situation will need to be made. This specialist assessment will build on the work undertaken in completing the CAF.
108. The use of the CAF as a means of analysing the child’s needs will enable practitioners to join up with any other professional who might already be working with a child or have completed a specialist assessment for them. With consent, practitioners from different agencies will be able to share information about a child’s needs, enabling them to work more effectively together, build up a holistic picture of a child’s needs and develop a more coordinated response.
109. Where a child not receiving a suitable education needs support from several agencies to help them return to full-time learning, having a lead professional should help ensure that the actions identified in the assessment process are fully co-ordinated. The lead professional will provide a single point of contact for the child and family.
110. Information about the CAF and Lead Professional can be found at:
111. Any Directory of Children’s Services supported by the local authority, for example as part of its action to ensure practitioners, children, young people and parents are informed about services available to them, should include details about eligibility criteria for services.
Identify and access available provision and places
Current Information about places
112. If the process is to progress efficiently, then information about available places is best held centrally, if at all possible. In areas with high transience, turnover in schools will be high and therefore school places will come and go rapidly.
School Admissions Procedures
113. All schools and local authorities must comply with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code which came into force in February 2007.
114. Each admission authority and Admission Forum must have a Fair Access Protocol. All schools and Academies must participate in their local authority area’s protocol to ensure that unplaced children, especially the most vulnerable are offered a place at a suitable school and that all schools in an area admit their fair share of children with challenging behaviour. An agreed protocol must include timescales for considering and resolving individual cases that aim to best serve the interests of the parent and child. It must also describe who will take part in this process, how the decisions will be taken and who will be ultimately accountable for them. Once protocols have been agreed, Admission Forums must monitor how well they are working.
115. Improvements are in hand to strengthen the admissions framework to work towards delivery of the Children’s Plan commitments to: improve the application and allocation process for parents, support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, help to ensure that parents have the information they need to make realistic choices and all schools comply fully with the law and the Codes. New Regulations have been made and a new School Admissions Code has been laid before Parliament and if approved will come into force from early February 2009.
116. Additionally, some authorities find it useful to use multi-agency panels to place children in provision, often called “In – Year Fair Access Panels’’. These panels track progress and alert the Inclusion and Access Managers if there are concerns about delay or inability to meet the child/young person’s needs.
Monitor attendance for all provision
117. It has been identified previously through public consultations and in the Ofsted Report: Key Stage 4: towards a more flexible curriculum (published in 2003) that children can go missing from alternative provision. This indicates the need to audit registers of alternative provision as well as schools.
118. Guidance for local authorities for schools on monitoring attendance is contained within www.dcsf.gov.uk/behaviourandattendance/ and at: www.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/secondary/keystage3/behaviour/focus/attendance_manual/resources/.
119. Guidance for local authorities on Pupil Referral Units and alternative provision was issued in February 2005 “Guidance for LEAs - PRUs and Alternative Provision”. Separate guidance on commissioning alternative provision – “Commissioning Alternative Provision – Guidance for Local Authorities and Schools” was published on 23 October 2008. Both sets of guidance can be found on the Teachernet website: http://publications.teachernet.gov.uk/ (ref: LEA/0024/2005 and DCSF-00758-2008).
120. Deletions from the admission and attendance registers must be made in line with the provisions of Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/1751) which are at: http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk and apply to all schools in England, including independent schools. The name of a pupil of compulsory school age may only be deleted from the attendance register on the grounds prescribed in this Regulation. Under regulation 12(3), schools must also inform their local authority of deletions of compulsory school age pupils due to: ceasing to attend the school; being withdrawn to be educated outside the school system; being certified by the school medical officer as unlikely to return before ceasing to be of compulsory school age; being in custody; being permanently excluded. More information is available at: www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolattendance.
121. In line with the duties on children’s services and schools to make arrangements for ensuring that their functions are discharged with a view to improving or promoting the well-being of children (section 10 of the Children Act 2004 for local authorities and their relevant partners, and section 38 of The Education and Inspections Act 2006 for maintained schools), the expectation is that both the school and the local authority will put in place procedures designed to track the whereabouts of the child and to record that they have completed these procedures before deleting them from the register. The type of procedures may include the appropriate agency checking with relatives, neighbours, landlords - private or social housing providers - and other local stakeholders who are involved. If there is reason to believe the child/young person may be or is at risk of significant harm procedures should be followed in line with the Local Safeguarding Children Board. http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/socialcare/safeguarding/lscb/ :
Follow-up procedures could include:-
• if the child/young person is located and the current school is still the appropriate school then steps should be taken to engage with the child/young person and the parent to improve attendance;
• if the child/young person is located, but has moved, and a new school is necessary but in the same local authority, the necessary steps should be taken to access a new school as previously mentioned and steps taken to transfer the Common Transfer File (CTF) (see paragraph 126 below); and
• if there is evidence to suggest the child/young person has moved to a different local authority then contact should be made with the named individual in the new authority.
122. In the absence of the location of the child/young person being found these procedures will also prompt reference to the transfer of information to the police and Children’s Social Care and the transfer of information via school2school (s2s). Until a child/young person is located the local authority should maintain a record of their details.
Track and reconcile movements
123. This is the process by which the local authority maintains visibility of children who have ceased to be registered with a provider and monitoring progress until they are registered with a new provider, by effective use of available inter-local authority exchange of information. Monitoring at the transfer between Key Stage 2 and 3 is vital. Local authorities will need to develop protocols with their schools to ensure that all children leaving a primary school are subsequently registered at a new provider.
124. There are challenges in areas where children leave the maintained sector for the independent sector in high numbers, in areas where children commonly cross boundaries to attend schools in other authorities and in areas of high transience, particularly if children leave schools at other than normal ages of transfer. Also, similar issues regarding the transfer of information apply for young people involved in the youth justice system and who are leaving custody.
Transfer of Information
125. The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/1437) (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2005/20051437.htm) governs the transfer of information from school to school when a child moves school. In particular, regulation 9(3) provides that: “…the governing body of the old school or, where this has been agreed between that governing body and the local authority, that authority shall transfer the pupil’s common transfer file and educational record to the responsible person of the new school no later than fifteen school days after the day on which the pupil ceases to be registered at the old school”.
126. The DCSF provides a secure internet site (s2s) for the electronic transfer of information on Common Transfer Files (CTFs) from school to school when a child moves school. On the home page for s2s- www.teachernet.gov.uk/s2s, a description of the processes and guidance is provided for local authorities and schools on how to use the system. There is also a publication for schools which local authorities can order and distribute. s2s also provides a secure messaging facility. Guidance notes for schools and local authorities to clarify the creation and use of CTFs can be found at: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/ims/datatransfers/s2s/ .
127. The s2s website also contains a searchable area referred to as the Lost Pupil Database where schools can upload CTFs of pupils who have left but their destination, next school is unknown or the child has moved abroad or transferred to a non-maintained school.
128. There may be exceptional circumstances when standard rules for sending a receiving a CTF for a pupil might not apply. Each case would need to be judged on its merits in consultation with relevant parties. Circumstances when it is not considered appropriate to pass on details via a CTF might include: a family escaping a violent partner; the family is in a witness protection programme; or concerns that the child is at risk of forced marriage. Guidance on how to share information in these circumstances is available in Annex A of the CTF Guidance Notes: www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/ims/datatransfers/CTF/
Standard Data Definitions
1. The following data definitions have been developed working with several local authorities to help improve consistency of how information is collected about children who are not receiving a suitable education and to improve cross-border transfer of information.
2. The national definition of children who are not receiving a suitable education is as follows:
“A compulsory school-age child who is not on the roll of a school, not placed in alternative provision by a local authority, and who is not receiving a suitable education at home”.
3. Suitable education is defined as: “efficient full-time education suitable to his/her age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he/she may have”.
4. Alternative provision is defined as: “educational provision arranged by local authorities or schools, and made off-site by a voluntary or private sector provider or by a Pupil Referral Unit”.
5. The following two sub-sets are suggested, but they are not intended to be an exclusive list:
a) Children not on a school roll (including in a General Hospital School, an Academy or City Technology College (CTC) or at an Independent School): nor in local authority care, nor in juvenile custody, nor in immigration removal centres, nor in alternative provision (AP), nor in a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), nor in Further Education (FE). Examples of what this sub-set would include are as follows (N.B. This is not intended to be an exclusive list):
• New to the country or area and not yet registered at a school
• Refusal to accept an offered school place
• Refusal to start school
• Elective home education that is unsuitable in accordance with Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act
• Children of highly mobile families
• Lack of understanding/disregard of their parental responsibilities with regard to education
• Children caring for parents or siblings
• Children living in refuges
• Children whose parents are in breach of a School Attendance
• Children who should be in alternative provision but are awaiting placements to be made.
b) Children who have been on the roll of a school, but have left, destination unknown (both those still on roll of school, and those removed from it), not in AP, not in PRU, not in Independent School, not in FE, not in General Hospital School, not in Academy, not in CTC. Examples of what this sub-set would include are as follows: (N.B. This is not intended to be an exclusive list).
• Children sent abroad to be with other family
• Children believed to have moved location within the UK but destination unknown
• Permanently excluded and not placed in other provision from the sixth day of exclusion
• Children working illegally, location unknown
• Children removed from school by parents/carers, alternative provision unknown
• Illegal or informal exclusion.
Children Act 1989
Section 17 - Provision of services for children in need, their families and others
Under the terms of section 17 of the Act, every child under the age of 18 is entitled to a full assessment of his/her needs and, if approached, social services have a legal duty to carry out this assessment and can be challenged if they fail to respond to any request for a section 17 child-in-need assessment. Section 17 places a general duty on social services to safeguard and promote the welfare of children ‘in need’ living in the area and to ensure appropriate services are provided for those children. Social services do not have any right to opt out of this requirement or any other part of the Act on the grounds that they do not have resources. The term ‘in need’ is not tightly defined in the legislation, but left open to reinforce preventative services and support for families.
Section 47 - Local authority’s duty to investigate - Councils with Social Services Responsibilities (CSSRs) are required to conduct enquiries, in accordance with section 47 of the Children Act 1989, when they receive information that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.
Children Act 2004
Section 10 requires each local authority to make arrangements to promote co-operation between the local authority, each of their relevant partners and such other persons or bodies, working with children in the local authority’s area, as the authority consider appropriate. Relevant partners are also under a duty to co-operate with the local authority in the making of those arrangements. The arrangements are to be made with a view to improving the wellbeing of children in the authority’s area – which includes protection from harm or neglect alongside other outcomes. This section is the legislative basis for Children’s Trust partnerships.
Section 11 requires a range of organisations to make arrangements for ensuring that their functions, and services provided on their behalf, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Section 12 enables the Secretary of State to require local authorities to establish and operate databases relating to the section 10 or 11 duties (above) or the section 175 duty (below), or to establish and operate databases nationally.
Section 17 enables the Secretary of State to require local authorities to prepare and publish a plan setting out the authority’s strategy for discharging their functions in relation to children and relevant young persons. The Children and Young People’s Plan Regulations (England) 2005 required local authorities to publish their first Children and Young People’s Plan on or before 1st April 2006 and to review the plan annually.
Section 63 of the Children Act 2004 amended Schedule 5 of the Tax Credits Act 2002, meaning that the Inland Revenue now has lawful authority to provide local authorities with “….information, other than information relating to a person’s income, which is held for the purposes of functions relating to tax credits, child benefit or guardian’s allowance by the Board” (extract from section 63(1)). This information can only be requested where it is needed in order for the local authority to fulfil their statutory responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Such enquiries will generally be made under section 47 of the Children Act 1989, which requires local authorities to make enquiries where they suspect a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.
Children Act 2004 guidance can be found at:
Education and Inspections Act 2006
Section 38 laid a duty on the governing bodies of maintained schools, primary, secondary, special and Pupil Referral Units, in discharging their functions relating to the conduct of the school, to promote the well-being of pupils at the school. The duty came in to effect in September 2007. Since that date, an equivalent requirement has been placed on new Academies through their funding agreements.
Education Act 2002
Section 175 puts a duty on all local authorities, maintained (state) schools, and further education institutions, including sixth form colleges, to exercise their functions with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children (children who are pupils and students under 18 years of age, in the case of schools and colleges). The same duty is put on Independent schools, including Academies by regulations made under section 157 of that Act.
Identifying children not receiving a suitable education is a key part of discharging the responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Local authorities should use the powers identified above and work with their partners to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to share information when identifying children not receiving a suitable education.
For more guidance on safeguarding children local authorities should refer to the Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006 document (Part 1 of which is statutory) and other guidance available on the Every Child Matters website: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/socialcare/safeguarding.
Education Act 1996
Section 7 provides that the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
Section 8 provides that compulsory school age starts on the relevant day on or after a child’s fifth birthday and ends on the specified day of the school in which the child’s 16th birthday falls. Regulations provide that the relevant days are the 31 August, 31 December and 31 March and that the specified day is the last Friday in June.
Section 14(1) provides that a local authority must make sure there are sufficient schools for providing education in their area. For these purposes, the schools must be sufficient in number, character and equipment to provide all pupils with the opportunity of appropriate education (section 14(2)). “Appropriate education” means, broadly education which is desirable in view of the pupils’ different ages, abilities and aptitudes and the different periods for which they may be expected to remain at school (section 14(3)).
Section 19(1) requires every local authority to make arrangements for the provision of suitable education at school or otherwise than at school for those children of compulsory school age who by reason of illness, exclusion from school or otherwise, may not for any period receive suitable education unless such arrangements are made for them.
Children not receiving an education
Progress Checklist: Self Evaluation
Use the following categories to rate the Local Authority:
(Not previously identified, but discussions have now taken place and a plan has been produced)
Working Towards: W
(Achieved some of what is expected, identified some gaps, discussions have taken place and a plan has been produced)
(The Local Authority can provide evidence to support positive responses to the questions below and plans are in place to review their policy/processes/systems to move towards “Embedded” status)
(The Local Authority can demonstrate that the policy/processes/systems have been in place for a period of time and have been reviewed)
N, W, A or E
Strategic Management & Leadership
Does the local authority have a written policy (1) agreed with partners concerning children not receiving a suitable education?
Are the arrangements for identifying children not receiving a suitable education embedded within the Children’s Trust governance and strategic planning arrangements (2) and the cross-cutting arrangements for safeguarding and inter-agency co-operation to improve wellbeing of children?
Is there regular monitoring (3) of the processes/numbers by Senior Management, Lead Members and Children’s Trust partners?
Networks & Points of Contact
Has the local authority identified the key stakeholders (4) to provide information about children/young people without educational provision in the area?
Has the local authority provided and publicised notification routes (5) for all key stakeholders?
Does the local authority have a named contact (6) point to receive details about children not receiving a suitable education?
Are there clear responsibilities (7) for this role or those to whom the duties are delegated?
Does the local authority maintain a database (8) of children not currently in education, including those new to the area or country?
If so does the database include fields (9) such as:
date child/young person referred in;
date of assessment, if necessary;
date form of provision determined;
date moved into provision.
Does the local authority monitor the numbers (10) of children/young people in the authority who are not receiving a suitable education?
Does the local authority have processes in place (11) to monitor the educational status of children in recognised vulnerable groups?
Are there clear access rules and procedures (12) to ensure fair/safe data processing?
Provision Brokering Services
Does the local authority have clear processes (13) for securing the support of other agencies where it is needed e.g. for welfare or health reasons.
Does the local authority have an agreed process (14) for securing educational provision for children once found?
Does the local authority monitor the pace (15) they move into provision?
Does the local authority have the information systems in place (16) to allow access to up to date information concerning availability of school places and availability of places with alternative providers?
Effective Pupil Tracking Systems
Does the local authority keep a record (17) of children who have left educational providers (school and alternative provision) without a known destination?
Does the local authority follow up children (18) at regular intervals until they are registered with a new provider?
Does the local authority have an agreed system (19) with schools concerning children leaving provision?
Does the local authority support and encourage (20) schools to transfer files via s2s?
Does the local authority have an identified officer (21) as database administrator for s2s?
Does the local authority upload to and download from (22) the searchable area of the s2s website known as the ‘Lost Pupil Database’?
Evidence to show ‘Achieved’ status
(1) The policy itself which should be shared with and understood by at least Health, Education (including all schools in the area), Children’s Social Care, Police, Youth Justice Services and Housing. The document(s) containing the policy should contain:
• the current position of the authority;
• evidence about the scale and nature of any problem around children not receiving a suitable education;
• ways of tackling it in a multi-agency approach; and
• arrangements for monitoring.
(2) Arrangements for identifying children not receiving a suitable education are included in the integrated processes of the Children’s Trust.
(3) The authority can provide copies of records, or the ready ability to produce regular records. ‘Regular’ is Termly.
(4) The authority can provide documentary evidence listing other agencies in their area who their lead named individual has spoken to, referred children to and/or given details of children not receiving a suitable education, plus receiving details of children not receiving a suitable education from other agencies and the general public.
(5) Documents showing notification routes, and evidence of the dissemination of this information should be available. Dissemination should be by: mail outs, website, leaflets etc. Essentially, if a number of likely important stakeholders are approached they can say easily how they notify the authority.
(6) If contacted, the authority can give the name of a person or persons with the responsibility for receiving information on children not receiving a suitable education.
(7) The person(s) in (6) are readily contactable, and are able to provide, without difficulty information on their role and the limits of their responsibility and if they are not responsible they know who is.
(8) The authority can provide accurate, verifiable and up to date figures (no more than a month old), and trends over time, together with a description of how these figures are collected and calculated.
(9) The authority can provide information on any case within the database and show the dates of: notification, assessment (if necessary), identification of appropriate provision and actual access to that provision.
(10) The authority can provide documentary evidence that regular updates on the number of children not receiving a suitable education are sent to senior responsible officers within the organisation. Ideally the numbers should come from the same system that provides data in response to (8).
(11) The authority can provide documentary evidence of the mechanism by which they identify children in recognised vulnerable groups in their area. There are also documents detailing how the educational status of these groups is monitored. Ideally the monitoring should be robust, in that it should rely on more than one source of data to establish the situation regarding children in recognised vulnerable groups in their area.
(12) Access rules and procedures to ensure fair/safe data processing are known and understood by any member of staff in the authority who is likely to have to deal with any data on children not receiving a suitable education. Any case drawn at random should show the implementation of these processes if tracked through to support receipt. This knowledge should be consistent with written down and agreed procedures.
(13) Documented procedures for securing the support of other services is known understood and agreed by relevant staff both in the authority and those in the relevant support services and partner agencies. Any case tracked through the system that requires such support should reflect the documented procedure.
(14) Documented procedures for attempting to secure appropriate provision is known, understood and agreed by relevant staff and followed regularly, so that any case tracked reflects those procedures in principle and shows records of any failures to secure provision.
(15) The authority can provide documentary evidence that gives regular updates on, for example, the mean, mode and range of time taken to access provision are sent to senior responsible officers within the organisation. Ideally the data should come from the same system that provides data in response to (8).
(16) The authority can provide accurate, verifiable and up to date figures (no more than a month old) on the number of places available, broken down by at least statutory and alternative provision. A description of how these figures are collected and calculated should be available.
(17) The authority can provide accurate, verifiable and up to date figures (no more than a month old) on the number children who have left education without a known destination. A description of how these figures are collected and calculated should be available.
(18) The authority can provide documentary evidence of follow up procedures, together with a named contact for whoever is responsible for follow up work. Any case tracked should show evidence of regular (at least monthly) follow up contact until the case is registered with a new provider or the local authority designated person.
(19) Documentary evidence is available describing the process for children leaving provision. There should be evidence that this process has been agreed to by all school authorities in the area, and that contact with staff responsible for implementing these procedures should show knowledge consistent with an understanding of the process. Any case tracked upon leaving provision should show evidence reflecting the appropriate following of the process.
(20) The authority can provide documentary evidence of support given to all schools, and of appropriate encouragement of all schools in the use of the s2s system. Relevant staff in any school selected at random in the authority should be able to show that they are at least aware of the system. Ideally, where they are not currently using it, they should be able to show evidence of support from the authority to do so. This support should comprise at least the provision of relevant and appropriate materials on how to access the system.
(21) If contacted, the authority can give the name of a person or persons with the responsibility for administering the s2s.
(22) If contacted, the person(s) named in (21) can provide documentary evidence of regular (at least monthly) uploads and downloads to the Lost Pupil Database. This evidence could comprise upload and download reports for each session.
Useful websites and documents
Children in Care
The Children’s Plan
The Children’s Plan – One Year On
Children Act 2004 Guidance
Children’s Trusts (working with)
Elective Home Education
Exclusions & Alternative Provision
Multi-Agency Statutory Guidance
Gypsy & Roma Travellers
HM Revenue and Customs
The Lead Professional and Common Assessment Framework
Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)
Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provision – Guidance for Local Authorities (refs: LEA/0023/2005 and DCSF-00758-2008)
Pupil Registration Regulations
Registers (Keeping Pupil Registers)
General Safeguarding Links:
Cross-cutting arrangement of safeguarding and inter-agency co-operation to improve the well-being of children: Children’s Trusts:
Forced Marriage - Information for professionals
Local Safeguarding Children Boards
London Good Practice Guidance for Safeguarding Children Missing from School
Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT) website:
support in relation to international child abduction is available from the voluntary organisation ‘reunite’:
Missing Children Notifications
Safeguarding Children - Trafficked/Subject to sexual exploitation:
Working Together to Safeguard Children:
Safer School Partnerships – Mainstreaming Guidance
Schools Admissions Code
Tackling it Together toolkit
Targeted Youth Support
The Training and Development Agency
Transfer of Information
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2005/20051437.htm (Pupil Regulations 9 (3))
UK Border Agency
Youth Offending Teams (working with)
Youth Justice Board
Youth Task Force Action Plan