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Addressing the Rising Challenge of Children Missing Education (CME)

Addressing the Rising Challenge of Children Missing Education (CME)

For many schools and local authorities, the number of children missing education (CME) is a growing concern. The latest figures from the Department of Education state that an estimated 24,700 children were missing education in Spring 2023, with as many as 94,900 missing from education at some point during the previous academic year.  According to a recent report by Sky News, this number has increased considerably since the pandemic, with one in three parents now believing that it isn’t necessary for children to go to school every day.  

As stated by the Department of Education’s statutory guidance, every child, regardless of their circumstance, are entitled to full-time education. Schools and local authorities have a collective responsibility to ensure that children receive the support, protection and education they are entitled to, and that no child falls through the gaps.  

In this blog, we will explore the issue of CME in more detail, the risks and challenges that it poses, and how utilising an efficient safeguarding software could help alleviate the issue.  

CME: A growing concern  

The term ‘children missing education’ refers to any child of compulsory school age who is not registered at any school or receiving a suitable alternative form of education.  

A key challenge that schools and local authorities face is that cases of CME can be difficult to identify and can have many reasons or causes behind it. For example, children might miss a period of education for any of the following reasons: 

  • Significant mental health issues or periods of illness  
  • Frequent movement or travel  
  • Running away from home or a challenging homelife 
  • Caring responsibilities  
  • Complex social or behavioural needs 

With the number of CME cases having risen since the pandemic, both schools and local authorities are now under an increasing amount of pressure to support the vulnerable children who might be at risk. Vanessa Davies, the education welfare service lead at Bristol City Council, argues that
increasing awareness of CME is an important step in identifying potential cases. It is vital that agencies work together across the community to ensure that children receive the education they deserve, and that any issues or additional needs can be addressed in a quick and efficient manner.  

Why is addressing CME so crucial?  

Often, children missing education can experience long-term issues such as academic underachievement, unemployment, and isolation from peers. Furthermore, the Social Care Institute for Excellence has identified that children missing full-time education can indicate that they are likely to be more vulnerable to safeguarding risks. They can be at greater risk of experiencing issues such as abuse, exploitation, criminal activity and social disengagement, alongside other issues. which means it is imperative to address the causes for CME and to ensure effective safeguarding measures are in place for children who miss education. 

Without structured or consistent contact with schools or local agencies, these issues have the potential to go unnoticed, preventing adequate support from being put in place. To ensure CME receive the appropriate support they need, schools and local authorities require access to the right tools and support to address any underlying issues that missing children might be facing.  

The importance of a joined-up approach  

With the varied range of circumstances that might lead to a child missing full-time or formal education, identifying individual cases or concerns is a complex task to navigate.  

Effective information sharing between schools and local authorities is critical for making sure that children remain safe and in an adequate form of education. A joined-up approach to safeguarding and effective communication can ensure that children who need support receive it in a timely manner. 

Secure and efficient communication between agencies also allows for a child-centred approach to safeguarding, which prioritises the needs of each child and allows for the best possible outcomes. By working together to address CME, schools and local authorities can ensure that ‘missing’ children are accounted for and receive any necessary support. It can also help to make sure no information is missed, helping to stop any issues or concerns from escalating.  

How safeguarding software can help  

To establish a joined-up approach to safeguarding and effectively address CME, it is important to have access to the tools and systems that can enable this. Safeguarding software such as CPOMS Engage can help make the process of information sharing as fast and effectively as possible.  

CPOMS Engage allows schools, agencies and local authorities to: 

  • Monitor children missing education within one secure platform which can be easily accessed by authorised staff across settings. This can help to make sure that all children are accounted for and the necessary agencies are aware of any potential issues or risks.  
  • Track transfer requests, no matter where they are from. Schools can track and log transfer requests from another school with CPOMS, from anywhere in the country. This helps to ensure that children do not become ‘lost’ or ‘missed’ between periods of relocation or movement.  
  • Easily collate and gather information in a safe and secure manner. Schools and local authorities can log and monitor information on students who have been added to the Elected Home Education (EHE) list, an important step in ensuring that children outside of mainstream schools are receiving suitable education. 
  • Share any information, incidents, or concerns quickly and efficiently. With CPOMS schools can efficiently record any concerns, such as behavioural or mental health issues, that may indicate wider safeguarding risks. This information can then be accessed by all necessary agencies involved in each child’s care, allowing for a joined-up approach to support and intervention to be put into place.  

Working together to address CME 

The issue of CME is complex. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ as to why children might not be accessing the education that they are entitled to. This also means that there isn’t one solution for schools and local authorities to address the issue. However, with the numbers of children missing education, nearing 100,000 after the pandemic, it is important that agencies can work together to ensure vulnerable children remain safe from harm.  

A crucial step to addressing CME is ensuring a joined-up-approach between schools and local authorities, in which information about children can be shared efficiently and securely whilst adequate support for vulnerable young people can be provided. With safeguarding software like CPOMS Engage, schools and local authorities can work together to log and monitor levels of CME and provide the necessary intervention to help reduce the risk of harm.  

For more information about how CPOMS Engage can help you to navigate children missing in education, contact us today 

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