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Safeguarding: Missing Children

Children Missing Education

Children Missing Education (CME) refers to all children who are of compulsory school age (September following their 5th birthday), who are not on a school roll, or being educated otherwise (e.g. privately or in alternative provision) and who have been out of any educational provision for a substantial period of time.

There are various reasons children go missing from education:

  • They do not start school at the appropriate time and so they do not enter the educational system
  • They are removed from school by their parents due to problems at school, disinterest or poor attendance
  • They stop their education due to exclusion, illness or bullying
  • They fail to find a suitable school place after moving to a new area
  • They have difficult personal circumstances (e.g. if family is homeless and they are living in temporary accommodation or refuge, if there are long term medical or emotional problems).

If you are aware that a child in your child in your care is missing education, you should follow your safeguarding procedures and notify the local authority.

Click here for more information on Kent's procedures and notification form.

Missing Children

Repeatedly going missing from home or education may be a warning sign of a range of significant safeguarding concerns and early intervention is key to identifying any underlying risk.

Early intervention is necessary to identify the existence of any underlying safeguarding risk and to help prevent the risks of a child going missing in future. Staff should be aware of their school/college unauthorised absence and children missing from education procedures.

Guidance and resources about children who run away or go missing from home or care can be found at:

Child Abduction and Community Safety Incidents

Child abduction is the unauthorised removal or retention of a minor from a parent or anyone with legal responsibility for the child. Child abduction can be committed by parents or other family members, by people known but not related to the victim (such as neighbours, friends and acquaintances) and by strangers. Other community safety incidents in the vicinity of a school can raise concerns amongst children and parents, for example, people loitering nearby or unknown adults engaging children in conversation.

As children get older and are granted more independence, for example, as they start walking to school on their own, it is important they are given practical advice on how to keep themselves safe. Many schools provide outdoor-safety lessons run by teachers or by local police staff. It is important that lessons focus on building children’s confidence and abilities rather than simply warning them about all strangers.

Where Kent schools and settings are concerned about a specific incident, advice should be sought from the police and/or the Education Safeguarding Service when sharing information with the wider school/setting community.  More general information is available at and