Children Missing from Education (Scotland): guidance for local authorities

Guidance for local authorities who are using the Children Missing from Education (Scotland) service.


Children missing from education are children and young people of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll and not being educated otherwise (at home, privately or in an alternative provision).

An enrolled child or young person have usually not attended school for a period of time (up to four weeks, but substantially less for a child with welfare concerns).

The most important factor for any missing child is safety. Should there be any concern that the child may be at risk, it is essential that local child protection procedures are followed.

Local authority role

Due to the sensitive nature of children missing from education and data protection, the role of the Children Missing from Education (Scotland) is to solely act as a conduit between local authorities and SEEMiS for national pupils searches in Scotland when absolutely necessary. 

Each local authority in Scotland should have clear guidance on attendance policy and school staff should be aware of the procedures to follow when a child fails to attend school, or goes missing from education. This guidance should extend to incorporate the role of the Named Person and Children Missing from Education (CME) co-ordinator (or equivalent).

Before using the Children Missing from Education (Scotland) Service, the following actions should be undertaken by local authorities across the UK:

  • where a local authority in Scotland, or from other parts of the UK, know the destination authority the child has moved to, they should make contact with that authority directly in the first instance
  • in Scotland, if a child goes missing within their own local authority area, the authority themselves can request a SEEMiS search within their local authority area for an alternative enrolment across their own local authority schools
  • any national pupil searches that are needed that are outwith Scotland should be directed to the appropriate area or government department of the UK
  • please note that there is no standard search available for children who are enrolled in Scottish independent or grant-aided schools, or for those children who are being home educated in Scotland

It is important that the CME co-ordinator within Scottish local authorities can be contacted quickly. To enable this to happen, even if there is a change of personnel, it is essential that all CME co-ordinators and relevant staff within Scottish local authorities have access to a generic CME mailbox (e.g. CME@localauthority.gov.uk) and we would ask you to create this if you have not already done so to support continuity and notify Children Missing from Education (Scotland) of this.

To prevent and reduce the numbers of children missing from education, the co-operation of all local authorities across Scotland is paramount.

The Children Missing from Education (Scotland) Service

In addition to the above, the Children Missing from Education (Scotland) Service can:

  • support Scottish local authorities where a child goes missing from their local authority area, but is believed to still be in Scotland, by raising a SEEMiS all Scotland local authority school search. The Children Missing from Education (Scotland) Service will raise this search on their behalf and convey the result to the requesting authority
  • support other UK local authorities where they believe the child has moved to Scotland, but they are unsure where, by raising a SEEMiS all Scotland local authority school search. The Children Missing from Education (Scotland) Service will raise this search on their behalf and convey the result to the requesting authority

It should be noted that these searches only cover local authority schools in Scotland so does not cover children who are home educated, enrolled in independent or grant-aided schools.

When needing to request an all Scotland local authority school search please email the missing child’s details listed below to CMEScotland@gov.scot

  1. Forename
  2. Surname
  3. Date of Birth
  4. Sex

We have also published guidance on managing attendance in schools.

Contact

For any further advice or queries in relation to the Children Missing from Education (Scotland) service, please contact:

Email: CMEScotland@goc.scot.

Due to current hybrid working, contact should be made by email only.

Contact

For any further advice or queries in relation to the Children Missing from Education (Scotland) service, please contact:

Email: CMEScotland@goc.scot

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