Revised Statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education.
1.2 Duty to identify children not receiving education
1.3 Requirements for local authorities and relevant partners
Implementing the duty
2.1 to 2.5 Putting in place the right arrangements
3.1 to 3.15 Children most at risk of missing education
4.1 to 4.16 How to consider whether it is appropriate to refer a case to social care or to the police
5.1- 5.5 Reducing the risk of children not receiving education
6. Developing systems for identifying children not receiving education and maintaining contact with them
6.1 Practical model of process steps
6.2 -6.6 Receive information about a child
6.7 to 6.13 Notification routes
6.14 to 6.18 Partner agencies understand who and how to notify
Check if place of education already known
6.19-6.20 Access to rolls for all providers
6.21- 6.22 Reasonable enquiry
6.23 -6.24 Enquiry to another local authority in England
6.25 – 6.27 Useful information to share with another local authority in England
6.28 – 6.29 Local authority actions on receipt of an enquiry
6.30 – 6.37 Elective Home Education
6.38 – 6.43 Log details on database
6.44 Locate and contact family
6.45 – 6.48 Information Sharing
6.49 Determine child’s needs
6.50 – 6.51 Common Assessment Framework
6.52 -6.53 Lead Professional
6.54 Eligibility criteria
Identify and access available provision and places
6.55 Current information about places
6.56 – 6.57 School Admissions Procedures
6.58 Multi-agency panels
Monitor attendance for all provision
6.59 -6.61 Audit registers
6.62 – 6.64 Deletion procedures
6.65-6.6 Track and reconcile movements
6.67 – 6.70 Transfer of information
Appendix 1 Standard Data Definitions
Appendix 2 Relevant legislation
Appendix 3 Progress Checklist: Self Evaluation
Appendix 4 Useful Web- links
1.1.1. 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.
1.1.2. A key aspect of the Every Child Matters: 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 duty to identify children who are not receiving a suitable education, introduced by the Education and Inspections Act 2006, should be a key part of the Children’s Trust’s work, and of the local authority’s overarching preventative strategy.
1.1.3. The guidance in this document aims to help Local Authorities (LAs) 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;
• 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.
1.1.4. Children not receiving a suitable education are clearly at 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 are also are more likely to be 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.
1.1.5. 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.
1.1.6. 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, 11 and 12 of the Children Act 2004. Guidance provided in this document reflects practice that local authorities have already demonstrated as being effective.
1.2. Duty to identify children not receiving a suitable education
1.2.1. This document is issued under the section 436A (inserted before section 437 in Chapter 2, Part 6 of the Education Act 1996 (school attendance) 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.
1.2.2. This document is a revised version of original statutory guidance issued in February 2007, 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 emerged since the original version was published; and to reflect local authorities’ initial experience of implementing the duty.
1.2.3. 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.
1.2.4. 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.
1.2.5. In order to help local authorities achieve consistency in how they share information in order to meet this duty, this version of the guidance includes, at Appendix 1, a workbook that provides 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.
1.2.6. 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 cause of absence, involving other agencies where appropriate. (Further information on this duty is available at www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolattendance).
1.2.7. Local authorities have a duty to make arrangements to enable them to establish whether a child who is being educated at home (under section 7 of the Education Act 1997) is not receiving suitable education.
1.2.8. 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 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/deliveringservices/contactpoint.
1.3. Requirements for local authorities and relevant partners
1.3.1. 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 who come into contact with children and families. Implementation of this duty should not be in isolation of what local authorities are already doing to meet their duties under sections 10, 11 and 12 of the Children Act 2004. This duty should also not be implemented in isolation of the wider range of duties placed on local authorities, and initiatives led locally, that aim to improve outcomes for vulnerable children.
1.3.2. 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. It should be incorporated into the local authority’s Children’s Trust governance and strategic planning 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. (Children Act 2004 Guidance http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/strategy/guidance/).
1.3.3. The relevant partner agencies are: (these are the partners referred to in The Children Act 2004 in relation to a number of duties)
• 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 key partners are:
• HM Revenue and Customs;
• statutory and voluntary youth services;
• UK Border Agency;
• the Fire and Rescue Service;
• Other Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership agencies;
• voluntary and community organisations.
There may also be others, depending on local circumstances.
1.3.4. Information Sharing Guidance was published April 2006 and can be found on the Every Child Matters website: www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/deliveringservices/informationsharing/.
1.3.5. 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
2. Putting in place the right arrangements
2.1. 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. This will enable 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.
2.2. The experience of local authorities has shown that changes in the following five areas are required to achieve a robust system to identify children not receiving a suitable education. 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 2).
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 children not receiving a suitable education embedded within the local authority’s Children’s Trust governance and strategic planning arrangements and the cross-cutting arrangements for safeguarding and inter-agency co-operation to improve wellbeing of children?
Is this governance and planning 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 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 to prevent children from not receiving a suitable education?
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 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?
2.3. In order to implement these changes, local authorities should select, according to local circumstances, from the practical model of process steps given in from paragraph 6.1 onwards below. 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.
2.4. 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.
2.5. It is often lack of consistency across local authority boundaries that allows a child to get “lost” when moving from one area to the other, or between agencies/services. Vulnerable/at risk children are often already identified and monitored by other teams and agencies within the authority, and those receiving 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 education.
How will the duty be assessed?
2.6. The local services inspectorates are currently consulting on new arrangements for assessing the delivery of improved outcomes for local people in an area –the comprehensive area assessment (CAA) - which will be introduced from April 2009, with the first reports published in November 2009. The inspectorates consultation on the CAA will run until 20 October 2008. The CAA will be a joint independent assessment by the local services inspectorates, including Ofsted. It will consider priority outcomes for the area as a whole delivered by Local Strategic Partnerships, as well as councils, not simply the individual public bodies. CAA will embrace within its scope the roles and responsibilities of local statutory and non-statutory partners who are contributing to the delivery of outcomes in an area. It will pay particular attention to 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 safeguard vulnerable children, including those in care. The consultation on inspection for vulnerable children is expected to start September 2008.
3. Children most at risk of missing education
3.1. When developing a policy and procedures for children not receiving 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. 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.
3.2. 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).
3.3. Some children who experience certain life events, or who live in certain circumstances, are more at risk of not receiving suitable education. These include:
• children and young people under the supervision of the youth justice system;
• children living in women’s refuges;
• 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 whose parent/carer(s), fathers and/or mothers, and other close family members, move to another local authority area;
• children who were registered with a school that has closed, and have not made the transition to another school;
• children with long term medical or emotional problems;
• children in families involved in anti-social behaviour;
• children whose parents withdraw them from school in order to home educate them but then fail to provide a suitable education;
• 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 families who can be highly mobile, e.g. parents in the armed forces; Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families;
• children who have been bullied;
• children who have been trafficked to, or within the UK;
• children at risk of forced marriage;
• looked after children/children in care;
• children who are privately fostered;
• young carers;
• teenage mothers; and
• children who are permanently excluded from school, particularly those excluded unlawfully e.g. for problematic behaviour or offending (see paragraph 3.7 for more information on excluded pupils).
3.4. Children who meet the descriptions above are those who are typically most at risk of not achieving the 5 Every Child Matters Outcomes, and whose needs often 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 education, they should seek advice from the relevant specialist team/partner agency, including where appropriate Targeted Youth Support arrangements led by the Children’s Trusts, on how best to proceed. [http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/deliveringservices/targetedyouthsupport/]. Further details on some of these ‘groups’, and actions that should be taken are shown below.
Potential vulnerability due to high mobility
3.5. 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.
3.6. Children in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller 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 Roma or Traveller 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. More information is available at: http://www.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/primary/publications/inclusion/tess/.
Pupils excluded from school
3.7. 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, and to any 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 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 paragraph 6.49 for further details on the CAF].
3.8. 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 exclusions and alternative provision section of the DCSF website.
Children and Young People Supervised by the Youth Justice System
3.9. 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. It is important that Children's Trusts have in place 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 authority Children's Trust to ensure that appropriate full time education (or training or employment) is secured as soon as possible.
3.10. 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).
3.11. 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 Children's Trusts 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 LA contact for identifying children not receiving a suitable education.
3.12. 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 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 working with Children’s Trusts and YOTs can be found at: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/aims/childrenstrusts/ as well as: http://www.yjb.gov.uk/en-gb/.
3.13. Where the child is registered at a school, college, or alternative provider prior to them entering custody, it is good practice for the YOT and Children's Trust 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: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/schoolattendance/uploads.
Pupils at risk of harm
3.14. 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 this may be the case, a referral should be made to the local authority children's social care. LA 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.
Examples of the types of abuse where this could be a factor are:-
- the child may be at risk of forced marriage
in these circumstances, agencies must take care not to attempt to mediate in suspected cases. LA 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 7005 0151. Practice guidelines for social workers in dealing with cases of forced marriage are available from http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/fco-in-action/nationals/forced-marriage-unit/info-for-professionals. In addition, statutory guidance on forced marriage will be published in November 2008, setting out the responsibilities of agencies dealing with forced marriage issues, and will be followed by revised operational guidelines for front line staff. [The draft Guidance is being put to public consultation before being finalised – please see webpage at:- Forced marriage consultation]
- the child has been trafficked and/or subject to sexual exploitation
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, and the consultation version is available from: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/.
Pupils in families involved in persistent anti social behaviour
3.15 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 often linked to children’s behaviour, and /or the fact that anti-social behaviour in the wider family has led to disruption in their housing circumstances.
4. How to consider whether it is appropriate to refer a case to children’s social care or to the police.
4.1. 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 crime, including sexual exploitation, forced marriage, criminal neglect or abduction. It is important to recognise when young people are in situations where they are vulnerable and to take appropriate action.
4.2. In these cases, consideration must be given to involving children’s social care and/or the police. In any case where there is concern for a child’s welfare, this should be referred to the social care services within the local authority Children’s Trust, who will then consider whether the police should also be involved, and in cases where forced marriage is suspected, contact the Forced Marriage Unit (see paragraph 3.14 above). 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.
4.3. Have there been suspicions in the past concerning this child and family members, which together with any sudden disappearance from education provision are worrying?
4.4. 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?
4.5. Was there a significant incident prior to the child’s unexplained absence from education provision?
4.6. Is there a good reason to believe that the child’s absence may be the result of them being the victim of abuse or 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?
(Department for Children, Schools and Families/Foreign Office joint guidance on forced marriages can be found at: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/familyandcommunity/childprotection/usefulinformation/typesofabuse/forced_marriage/).
4.7. 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. NB again, care must be taken if there are any concerns that the child may be involved in forced marriage. In these cases, social care services must contact the Forced Marriage Unit before any other enquiries are made - see paragraph 3.14
4.8. If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then a referral to social care services within the Children’s Trust and/or the police should be made - local procedures should be followed. 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 [please see Working together to safeguard children guidance ] setting out individual responsibilities and responses to incidents such as these. 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 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.
4.9. Answers to the above questions will also help determine what other specific action should be taken by the Children’s Trust to respond to the circumstances in which the child is living, in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child.
4.10. The appropriate Education Welfare Service and/or local authority designated person as agreed locally should also be informed.
4.11. Other questions to consider are:
• Is the child/young person the subject of a child protection plan (on the Child Protection Register)?
• 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?
4.12. If the answer to any of these questions is yes children’s social care services should be informed immediately. A referral to the police might be made in line with local safeguarding procedures. The appropriate Education Welfare Service and/or local authority designated person as agreed locally should also be informed.
4.13. Positive responses to one or more of the following questions may give an indication that the family is avoiding contact with statutory services/agencies:-
• Has there been past involvement with children’s social care services about matters of child protection concern?
• 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?
4.14. The earlier the intervention the more likely the child will be traced. Any delay may well lead to longer periods of interrupted education for the child and an escalation of problems that put the child’s safety and well-being at risk. More guidance on these questions, which were developed with the Metropolitan Police, can be found on the London Child Protection Committee website, in their London Good Practice Guidance for Safeguarding Children Missing from School at http://www.londoncpc.gov.uk/procedures.
4.15. 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 even if they are not found or do not return. 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.
4.16. 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 (their “Education” section on their 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.
5. Reducing the risk of children not receiving education
5.1. There are a range of systems, processes and procedures currently used by local authorities to reduce the risk that children fall out of the education system and avoid 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 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.
5.2. Although the main focus of this document is on processes and systems within local authorities, it is important that local authorities work with their partners to ensure that there are robust arrangements for identifying children not receiving education across partner agencies.
5.3. Local approaches to preventing children from not receiving education should have regard to the pivotal role of parents. The piloting of Parent Support Advisers in 20 local authorities is moving to national expansion from August 2008. The Advisers 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.
5.4. The work to identify children not receiving education should also be seen within 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 local authority Children’s Trust. 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/.
5.5. Local approaches to identifying children who are not receiving, or at risk of not receiving, a suitable education should also have strong links with the work undertaken to implement the duty in the Education and Inspections Act 2006 for schools to promote the well-being of pupils. Final guidance underpinning the well-being duty will be available by Spring 2009 from dcsf.gov.uk [a consultation document is available at:- DCSF, Well Being e-Consultation].
6. Developing systems for identifying children not receiving education and maintaining contact with them
Practical model of process steps
6.1. 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
6.2. 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].
6.3. 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.
6.4. 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/ .
6.5. Arrangements to discharge the duty should be included in the local authority’s Children’s Trust governance and strategic planning 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 within the Integrated Youth Support Service will also be a key part of these arrangements. Every local authority will have Targeted Youth Support arrangements in place by December 2008, 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:- Targeted youth support - Every Child Matters].
6.6. Senior management, Lead Members and Children’s Trust partners, as appropriate, should monitor procedures and numbers.
6.7. Information about children not receiving education can be received from within local authority boundaries (from colleagues within schools, members of the public, the local authority, and other agencies) and/or from other local authorities around the country.
6.8. 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 the support at 16, including an offer of learning under the September Guarantee.
6.9. 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.
6.10. 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.
6.11. 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.
6.12. 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).
6.13. 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
6.14. Awareness should be raised amongst Children’s Trust partners and other agencies about how the local authority will be informed about children not receiving education, to ensure that all of them employ this route consistently. It will often 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. 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.
6.15. 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 departments;
• homeless hostels;
• Missing People Helpline;
• Accident and Emergency;
• NHS Walk-in 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;
• General Public;
• Voluntary and community organisations.
6.16. 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 education;
• entry in Directory of Services;
• events/workshops with partner agencies, including voluntary and community groups;
• School Secretaries’ Conferences;
• leaflets, etc.
6.17. 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.
6.18. Local authorities should agree arrangements with the agencies with whom they need to share information. Guidance on information sharing and tools for integrated working can be found on the Every Child Matters website:
Check if place of education already known
Access to rolls for all providers
6.19. 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 education. See paragraph 6.37 for suggestions for utilising existing databases).
6.20. 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; custodial institutions and other 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. “Guidance for Local Authorities and Schools: Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provision”, including a paper on “Commissioning Alternative Provision - the Role of the LEA” can be found on the Teachernet website http://publications.teachernet.gov.uk/ (ref: LEA/0023/2005 and LEA/0024/2005). 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.
6.21. 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).
6.22. 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
6.23. 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.
6.24. 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
6.25. 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.
6.26. 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/).
6.27. The following may give an indication of the level of vulnerability of child:
• reason for leaving if known;
• home educated child where the local authority considers that the parent is not providing a suitable education;
• 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; and
• reason for believing child has gone to this particular local authority;
• evidence gathered from making the enquiries described at paragraph 6.2.1.
Local authority actions on receipt of an enquiry
6.28. 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.
6.29. If no address is provided but 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
6.30. 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.
6.31. 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 either because an Order was never made or because the Order has been revoked (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.
6.32. 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.
6.33. 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.
6.34. 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.
6.35. 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.
6.36. 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.
6.37. 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
6.38. The practical model shown at paragraph 6.1 does not involve a requirement to set up new IT systems for children not receiving education. The following are suggestions on how to utilise existing databases.
6.39. Some authorities hold information on a centrally held database (e.g. Education Management Systems (EMS) (Capita system), Impulse (Arete system), IDEAR (Tribal system) or a locally developed system) and a download of information from school via SIMS every month which ensures the information held is reasonably current. The individual with responsibility for monitoring pupil registration and co-ordinating pupil mobility checks any names notified against the data held in the centrally held database.
6.40. ContactPoint, to be implemented across England mid 2009, will help local authorities fulfil their responsibilities for identifying children not receiving 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.
6.41. As mentioned before, monitoring by senior management is considered to 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.
6.42. 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.
6.43. 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
6.44. The practical model shown at paragraph 6.1 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.
6.45. 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 1.3.2). Agencies will include many who are already notifying the local authority when they encounter a child not receiving education.
6.46. Any sharing of information must comply with the law relating to confidentiality, data protection and human rights. The local authority should work within their authority’s arrangements for recording information and within any local information sharing protocols that are in place. These arrangements and protocols must be in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 – the key provisions of which are summarised in “Information Sharing: Further Guidance on Legal Issues” a copy of which can be found at:
6.47. Children who are both not receiving education and whose current residential whereabouts are unknown are likely to be deemed vulnerable.
6.48. 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
6.49. If a child has been identified as not receiving 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, will assist the process of successful re-engagement. Guidance on re-integration can be found at www.dscf.gov.uk/behaviourandattendance.
Common Assessment Framework
6.50. 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.
6.51. 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.
6.52. Where a child not receiving 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.
6.53. Information about the CAF and Lead Professional can be found at:
6.54. 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
6.55. 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
6.56. The School Admissions Code 2007 applies to all admissions to all maintained schools and Academies. The Code imposes mandatory requirements and refers to statutory requirements.
6.57. All admission authorities and Admission Forums must have In-Year Fair Access Protocols. These protocols should ensure that children are admitted to suitable provision as quickly as possible, and should ensure that all schools in an area admit their fair share of children with challenging behaviour. The children that should be covered by the protocol, and the process by which a school is identified as the one that should admit a child, are matters for local agreement. The Department has produced guidance on developing and agreeing protocols and this can be found at www.dcsf.gov.uk/sacode.
6.58. Additionally, some authorities find it useful to use multi-agency panels to place children in provision, often called “hard to place 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
6.59. It was identified both in the consultation exercise to produce this document and in the Ofsted Report: Key Stage 4: towards a more flexible curriculum (published in 2003) that children go missing from alternative provision. This indicates the need to audit registers of alternative provision as well as schools.
6.60. 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/.
6.61. Guidance for local authorities on Pupil Referral Units and alternative provision was issued in February 2005 “Guidance for LEAs - PRUs and Alternative Provision” including a paper on “Commissioning Alternative Provision - the Role of the LEA”. This guidance can be found on the Teachernet website: http://publications.teachernet.gov.uk/ (ref: LEA/0023/2005 and LEA/0024/2005).
6.62. 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. 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.
6.63. In line with the duties on children’s services and schools to make arrangements for ensuring that their functions are discharged having regard to the need to promote the well-being of children/pupils (section 11 of the Children Act 2004, and section 38 of The Education and Inspections Act 2006), 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/ :
• 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 6.68 below);
• 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.
6.64. 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
6.65. 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.
6.66. 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
6.67. 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”.
6.68. The DCSF provides a secure internet site (s2s) for the electronic transfer of information 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: www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/ims/datatransfers/CTF/ .
6.69. 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.
6.70. 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; or the family is in a witness protection programme. Guidance on how to share information in these circumstances is available in Annexe 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. [Please note - in the final version of the guidance, following on from the results of this public consultation these data definitions will be provided in a spreadsheet/workbook.]
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. 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 arrangements.
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 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 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 (LA):
(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 LA 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 LA 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 LA have a written policy (1) agreed with partners concerning children not receiving education?
Are the arrangements for identifying children not receiving education embedded within the LA’s 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 LA identified the key stakeholders (4) to provide information about children/young people without educational provision in the area?
Has the LA provided and publicised notification routes (5) for all key stakeholders?
Does the LA have a named contact (6) point to receive details about children not receiving education?
Are there clear responsibilities (7) for this role or those to whom the duties are delegated?
Does the LA 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 LA monitor the numbers (10) of children/young people in the authority who are not receiving education?
Does the LA 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 LA have clear processes (13) for securing the support of other agencies where it is needed e.g. for welfare or health reasons.
Does the LA have an agreed process (14) for securing educational provision for children once found?
Does the LA monitor the pace (15) they move into provision?
Does the LA 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 LA keep a record (17) of children who have left educational providers (school and alternative provision) without a known destination?
Does the LA follow up children (18) at regular intervals until they are registered with a new provider?
Does the LA have an agreed system (19) with schools concerning children leaving provision?
Does the LA support and encourage (20) schools to transfer files via s2s?
Does the LA have an identified officer (21) as database administrator for s2s?
Does the LA upload to and download from (22) the searchable are 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 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 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 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 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 links to further information
[This section will be added following the consultation to capture all the relevant suggestions made in consultation responses, in addition to the range of web links already included in this current version of revised guidance. As a result, this appendix should show all the ‘signposts’ to further information and support that can help local authorities and partners implement the duty to identify children not receiving a suitable education.