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4.4.4 Brighton and Hove Missing Education Practice Guidelines 

This chapter deals with children who run away or go missing from education and identifies the responsibilities and the range of situations within this, as well as statutory regulations and guidelines. Children who are frequently absent from education should always be considered at some risk.

See also chapters on Missing from Home Practice Guidelines and Missing from Care Practice Guidelines.

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Brighton and Hove Policy on Missing Children

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

DfE Statutory Guidance for Local Authories - Children Missing Education (January 2016)

DfE Statutory guidance on children who run away or go missing from care or home (January 2014)

Pan Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures, Joint Policy for Children Missing in Sussex

Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures, Trafficked Children


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Why Children go Missing from Education
  3. Reducing the Risk of Children Going Missing from Education
  4. Identifying and Engaging Stakeholders
  5. Information Sharing
  6. Early Help
  7. Locating and Referral
  8. Truancy Sweeps
  9. School Admissions – Rising 5’s, Primary and Secondary Transfer
  10. Children Placed in Women’s Refuge
  11. Children Educated Other Than At School
  12. Children Who Cease to Attend School
  13. Children Being Removed from School Roll - Guidance
  14. Children Permanently Excluded from School
  15. Children with a Gypsy/Traveller Background and Children from Transient Families
  16. Fair Access Protocol
  17. Unofficial Exclusions and Reduced Timetables for Pupils
  18. Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training
  19. Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking

    Appendix 1: Children Missing Education – Schools Referral Procedure

    Appendix 2: Children Missing Education Referral Form

    Appendix 3: Referral to the Behaviour and Attendance Team - Pupil Removed from School Roll

    Appendix 4: Unofficial Exclusions and Reduced Timetables for Pupils


1. Introduction

See also School attendance Departmental advice for maintained schools, academies, independent schools and local authorities, DfE, November 2013

This policy outlines Brighton and Hove City Council’s procedures for identifying, registering and tracking children missing education and to develop strategies for identifying those at risk of missing education. It is intended to ensure Brighton and Hove City Council is meeting its statutory duty to identify and support those children identified as missing, or at risk of becoming missing from education.

Children Missing from Education (CME) in this document refers to all children of statutory school age who are not receiving a suitable education by being registered at school or otherwise.

This policy has been produced to assist the Local Authority to meet its statutory responsibilities relating to the provision of education and the safeguarding and welfare of children. It is related to current Legislation and Related Guidance (see S436A – Education and Inspections  Act 2006) and the recommendations of Every Child Matters 2004 to ensure that every child and young person has the opportunity to fulfil their potential and no child slips through the net.

The national definition of a child missing education is:

  • Not on a school roll or being educated otherwise (e.g. at home, privately or in alternative provision) and who have been out of educational provision for more than four weeks;
  • Registered at school, but for a period of four weeks or more, have not attended school or alternative education provision;
  • Registered at school but their family has moved without providing a forwarding address or details of a new school.

Within Brighton and Hove the criteria for referral of children or young people to the Children Missing Education officer are:

  1. Not on roll of a school or registered as electively home educated;
  2. School leaver where destination is unknown or unconfirmed – including Primary and Secondary transfers;
  3. CIN/CP children with attendance below 90%;
  4. Vulnerable pupils with attendance below 50%;
  5. Children/Young people with attendance below 30%.


2. Why Children go Missing from Education

Children may go missing from the education system because they:

  • Fail to start appropriate provision and do not enter the system;
  • Fail to complete transition at Key Stage 2 to 3 and 3 to 4  (e.g. not given school  of choice);
  • Cease to attend due to unofficial exclusion;
  • Withdrawn by parent/carer;
  • Transfer between Local Authorities;
  • Permanent exclusion;
  • Move to another authority or return to their country of origin.

Children missing from education are at a greater risk of:

  • Physical harm and exploitation;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Anti-social behaviour;
  • Crime;
  • Illegal employment;
  • Becoming Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).

It is therefore essential to have a systematic and robust process in place to log the incident, track the progress of searching for the child and when located ensure the child is returned to education in a speedy and efficient manner.


3. Reducing the Risk of Children Going Missing from Education

This policy identifies the procedures currently in place to reduce the risk of children falling out of the education system and going missing.

The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2000 (S1 2000/297) (as amended by S1 2001/1212 and SI 2002/1680) govern the transfer of information from school to school when a child moves school.  In particular, regulation 10(3) provides that ’The Headteacher of the pupil’s old school shall send the information (the common transfer information and educational records) within 15 school days of the pupil’s ceasing to be registered at the school’.

CTF 2 is the electronic version of the Common Transfer Form which schools are statutorily required to send to a pupil’s receiving school within 15 days of their leaving. The CTF guidance to schools issued by the Department  for Education helps to make a positive contribution to inter-authority working, ensuring that children do not disappear from the system. The Children Missing Education Officer is the nominated officer who is responsible for searching the Lost Pupil Database for details of children with no recent school history. This is supplemented by local authority guidance both to ensure that schools continue to follow Brighton and Hove’s policies in respect of casual admissions, removing students from roll, referrals to the Access to Education Service and to promote consistency in school administrative procedures.

It is essential to have systems in place that ensure that all children, once identified and located, are not subsequently allowed to disappear. These include:

  • Sharing and receiving information from other agencies to identify those at risk of becoming CME;
  • Regular training of school staff on CME procedures;
  • Ensuring all partner agencies have access to updated information on CME;
  • Regular truancy sweeps by the Behaviour and Attendance Team;
  • Maintain procedures that identify children missing education through liaison with other Local Authorities and access to national database School to School (S2S);
  • Putting measures in place to re-engage CME, e.g. referral to relevant education panels for further professional support.

The officer undertaking the registration and monitoring of these children will play a key role in achieving this.

The Children Missing Education Officer is located in the Behaviour and Attendance Team.

3.1. The role of the children Missing Education Officer

  • Maintain and update the Children Missing Education Database;
  • Undertake the tracking process of CME;
  • Co-ordinate casework and contribute to assessment to determine appropriate provision for a child;
  • Provide relevant data as required and an annual report;
  • Raise awareness of procedures via presentations and training to teams on referral routes and circulating leaflets to professionals and public;
  • Reminding school of the Education (Pupils Registration England) Regs 2006 regarding the removal of children from school rolls and the need to create a Common Transfer File (uploaded onto the DFE S2S secure website) when a child has left school to an unknown destination.


4. Identifying and Engaging Stakeholders

In paragraph 17.97 of the Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report, Lord Laming recommended that:  “Front line staff in each of the agencies which regularly come into contact with families with children must ensure that in each new contact, basic information about the child is recorded. This must include the child’s name, address, age, the name of the child’s primary carer, the child’s GP and the name of the child’s school if the child is of school age. Gaps in this information should be passed on to the relevant authority in accordance with local arrangements”

It is necessary to continue to raise awareness amongst Stakeholders about how to inform the LA about children missing from education, in order to ensure that agencies apply this principle consistently.  It is often the case that another agency is aware of the arrival or the existence of a child living in an LA but not in education, before the LA is aware.

Stakeholders include School secretaries/administrators, Housing, A & E Departments, Health services, Children's Social Work, Police, Homeless Hostels, Women’s Refuge, and SEN Caseworkers.

Up to date information on how to contact the CME Officer to make a referral is sent to all agencies working with children to raise awareness of the need to track and monitor missing children and a referral form is available on the Council website.


5. Information Sharing

In order to locate children and young people who are believed to be resident in Brighton and Hove, a network of agencies with which information can be shared is in place.  The key partner agencies are:

  • Schools – academies, maintained, special schools and independent schools;
  • School Admissions;
  • Children’s Social Work;
  • Early Help;
  • Health;
  • Police authorities;
  • Youth Offending Services;
  • Housing providers;
  • 14-16 providers;
  • NB – separate arrangements are in place for children in care who miss education through Welfare Call who proactively call schools to check attendance of children in care.

It is to be remembered that children who are both missing from education provision and whose current whereabouts are unknown are likely to be deemed vulnerable.

It is in the interests of other agencies for children to be enrolled in education and attending regularly, not only because of the welfare of the child but also in order that agencies can fulfil their responsibilities.


6. Early Help

The use the Early Help pathway is key in assessing needs and improving services to children, young people and families. An Early Help assessment enables a child’s needs to be assessed in a multi-agency way, to decide what, if any, response is needed. If a response is required it is likely to be of a lower order than if the issue had been allowed to escalate.

Early Help enables practitioners to liaise with any other professionals who might have already completed an assessment for the child and share concerns with them. This means that professionals from different agencies can work more effectively together, build a picture of a child’s needs over time and develop a more appropriate response.


7. Locating and Referral

A clear and easily accessible referral form is available on the Brighton and Hove City Council website and attached as Appendix 2: Children Missing Education Referral Form.

Referral from within Brighton and Hove City Council

  • The child does not appear at entry to Reception;
  • The child does not appear at the allocated school at transition from Infant to Junior and Primary to Secondary;
  • Referral from school to the Front Door for Families or Early Help Hub when child ceases to attend (not attended for 2 weeks and there has been no contact with parents);
  • Children permanently excluded from school;
  • Children stopped  on a Truancy Sweep;
  • Children placed in a Women’s Refuge;
  • Children Educated Other than at School;
  • Children removed from the school roll (unofficial exclusion);
  • Children in care who are not attending school should be notified immediately to key social worker or through Welfare Call.

Referral of pupils who may be new to Brighton and Hove

It is the responsibility of all officers within Children’s Services to notify the Children Missing Education Officer of any information received from another Authority regarding a child who may be missing from education who it is believed is residing in Brighton and Hove.

Once this information has been logged on the Children Missing Education database the CME officer will undertake investigations to try and locate the child. This may include visiting an address where the child is believed to be living. Contact may also be made to other agencies e.g. Children’s Social Work, Police, Housing and Health. Close liaison with School Admissions will take place to check if a preference form has been received.

If the child is found, discussions will take place with the parent and School Admissions to secure educational provision. If the child is not found within two months, the CME Officer will update the database and inform the notifier.

Parents of children moving into Brighton and Hove will often contact school admissions directly to seek a school placement.

There will be occasions when School Admissions are unable to allocate the school preferred by the parent and the parent will inform Admissions that they do not intend taking up the school place offered or the school allocated will inform school admissions or the CME officer that the parents are not taking up the allocated place. The Children Missing Education officer will then make further enquiries and work with the parent regarding educational provision.

If the parent informs the admissions team or the school that they intend to home educate this must be referred immediately to Education Other Than at School.


8. Truancy Sweeps

Brighton and Hove Behaviour and Attendance Team work with Sussex Police undertaking regular truancy sweeps across the city.

A number of truancy sweeps will take place per academic year and areas will be targeted in line with local information obtained from Police, Schools and from members of the public who may contact the Access to Education service to inform them where young people are known to be.

These operations have proved to be effective in identifying children who are outside of the education system.  The majority of those identified on sweeps are accompanied by an adult and are absent from school for a justifiable reason.

Any young person identified on a truancy sweep as not being registered at school will be referred to the Children Missing Education officer.


9. School Admissions – Rising 5’s, Primary and Secondary Transfer

There are close links between the CME Officer, schools and school admissions. When children do not take up school places that have been offered the school will inform school admissions who will, after some initial checks, refer the pupil to the CME Officer for further investigation.

In order to ensure these children are identified as early as possible and to enable the Behaviour and Attendance Team to undertake enquiries regarding their educational provision, the following has been agreed.

  • School Admissions will provide the CME Officer with a copy of the list issued to schools for entry to Reception and transfer to Year 7;
  • The CME Officer will identify with all schools at the beginning of term children who have not arrived. They will then check with School Admissions to ascertain whether an alternative school placement has been allocated or whether contact has been received from the parent i.e placement at independent school. They will also check with the EOTAS Service whether the parent has informed the LA that they intend to educate other than as school. This should be completed within 5 school days;
  • If after these investigations it is found that the child does not appear to be receiving an education, the CME Officer or the EOTAS Service will write to parents making arrangements to visit the home address to establish what arrangements are being made for the child’s education. This should be done within a further 5 school days;
  • If it is felt that the child is not receiving an appropriate education under the terms of the Education Act 1996, the Behaviour and Attendance Team will serve a Notice of a School Attendance Order requiring the parent to register their child at a school to be agreed by School Admissions.


10. Children Placed in Women’s Refuge

Women fleeing domestic violence may be allocated a place at a Women’s Refuge. The whereabouts of the women and any children entering the Refuge must be kept confidential. The children will need to be kept safe, found a school place without delay ensuring understanding and empathy of parental preference to ensure disruption to the child’s education is kept to a minimum and allow them to have a structured day at a time when their lives may be in turmoil. 

The Children Missing Education Officer has responsibility for children placed in the Women’s Refuge (this must always be a female worker). The Access to Education Officer will be contacted by the Refuge when a school age child becomes resident. They will visit the parent and support them to complete a preference form. The Access to Education Officer will then liaise with School Admissions to allocate a school place and discuss any transport implications.


11. Children Educated Other Than At School

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that: “the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him/her to receive efficient full-time education suitable to age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he/she may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise”. This allows parents to remove their child from school and provide them with education at home.

When parents withdraw their child from school to do this, and the child is of compulsory school age, the name of the child can only be deleted from the admissions register of the school when the parents inform the school in writing as provided by the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995 under Regulation 9(1)(c)  “that he/she has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school”

It is then the duty of the proprietor of the school to inform the LA within 10 working days under Regulation 13 (3) “when the name of a pupil has been deleted from the admission register in accordance with regulation 9(1)(c) the proprietor shall make a return to the local education authority giving the full name and address of that pupil within ten school days immediately following the date on which the pupil’s name was so deleted”

Parents do not need to inform anyone if their child never starts school. The procedure for identifying and monitoring any child of statutory school age and who is known to the LA that fails to start school at 4+ is outlined in Flowcharts 1 and 2 (to follow).

The LA can intervene if it has reason to believe that parents are not providing a suitable education and may issue a School Attendance Order under section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996. It may also apply to court for a child assessment order under S43 of the Children Act 1989 if it has reasonable cause to do so (which will only be where there is a risk of Significant Harm to the child)

The Behaviour and Attendance Team and the Education Other Than at School Service have agreed a joint protocol for identifying and monitoring children removed from school to be educated at home. The Elective Home Education policy can be found at Home Education, Brighton and Hove City Council Website.


12. Children Who Cease to Attend School

If a child ceases to attend school or fails to return from a holiday and the school has not been informed that the child has transferred to another school, it should upload the Common Transfer File (CTF) to the S2S database. It should inform the CME Officer. The school should also provide any additional information which may be useful e.g. other agency involvement.

Children’s Social Work has a responsibility for children who are subject to child protection planning.  If a child  with a Child Protection Plan goes missing, Children’s Social Work must be informed.

If a Looked After Child goes missing, Children’s Social Work will hold the case and links are in place to ensure that the CME officer works with both the school, the Virtual School and Children’s Social Work.

Once referred, the school must keep the CME Officer informed of any additional information it receives about the child.

The CME Officer will complete initial enquiries:

  • Home visit  -  forwarding address identified;
  • Information forwarded to receiving Authority;
  • School admissions in receiving Authority contacted;
  • Receiving school identified;
  • School records transferred.

If the whereabouts of a child are identified, no further action is required.

If whereabouts not identified:

  • Enquiries should be made of other sources using appropriate forms e.g. Children’s Social Work, NHS, Police and other agencies as appropriate.


13. Children Being Removed from School Roll - Guidance

Deletions from the admission register are provided by the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995 (S1 1995/2089), as amended by the Education (Pupil Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 1997 (S1 1997/2624) and the Education (Pupil Registration) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2001 (S1 2001/2802) and the name of a pupil of compulsory school age may only be deleted from the attendance register on the ground prescribed by these regulations. See the pupil registration regulations at The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006.


14. Children Permanently Excluded from School

Section 19(1) of the Education Act 1996 requires every Local Authority to make arrangements for the provision of suitable education at school or otherwise for those children of compulsory school age who are permanently excluded from school.

Once a pupil has been permanently excluded from school, the school must inform the Behaviour and Attendance Team. The Governing Body must convene a meeting within 15 school days to determine whether or not the exclusion is to be upheld. 

A member of the Behaviour and Attendance Team attend the Governors meeting. If the exclusion is upheld by the Governors, the Behaviour and Attendance Team will arrange to either send by post or visit the parent at home to obtain a completed preference form.

If the child is resident in Brighton and Hove the form will then be passed to School Admissions to identify an alternative placement to support the LA’s responsibility to provide alternative placement within the statutory timescales. If the child resides in another Authority’s area, the Behaviour and Attendance Team will inform the relevant Authority that the child has been excluded. It is the responsibility of the Authority in which the child resides to identify appropriate provision and monitor the child.

If the form is not completed on the same day as the exclusion meeting, within the following 5 school days, a member of the Behaviour and Attendance Team will arrange for a visit to the home to take place in order to complete it. School Admissions will then allocate a school place.

The Behaviour and Attendance Team will liaise with school/parent/pupil regarding integration into the receiving school ensuring the parents are aware of their legal responsibility for ensuring regular attendance even if the pupil is on a part-time timetable as part of the integration.


15. Children with a Gypsy/Traveller Background and Children from Transient Families

The Traveller Education Service within Brighton and Hove Children’s Services ensures that Traveller children and those from other transient backgrounds gain access to their legal entitlement to an education that meets their needs, promotes the inclusion and achievement of Traveller children and to enable Traveller children and families to become independent users of the education system.

A protocol is in place which outlines the admission, re-admission and removal from the school roll of highly mobile children.  More details are available, see Traveller Commissioning Strategy 2012.


16. Fair Access Protocol

Details of the Fair Access Protocol can be requested from Brighton and Hove City Council, School Admissions.


17. Unofficial Exclusions and Reduced Timetables for Pupils

In order to ensure the safeguarding and welfare of children and young people it is vital that pupils are not excluded unofficially or placed on a reduced timetable without alternative provision during school hours.  For information related to unofficial exclusions please see Appendix 4: Unofficial Exclusions and Reduced Timetables for Pupils.


18. Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training

The Youth Employability Service (YES) works with young people who are not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). In addition, as part of the Early Help Strategy, YES offers support to young people in year 11 who are deemed to be at risk of becoming NEET. Most of the client group are between 16 and 18 and have left compulsory education, so they do not officially fall under this policy. However, with the Raising of the Participation Age (RPA) by 2015 all young people should remain in learning up to their 18th birthday.  As part of RPA, YES is required to track all young people aged 16 to 18 to ascertain their current situation in terms of their learning and this information is recorded on the Aspire database.

YES advisers can be contacted to check whether they have any information about a young person who is missing from education or information about older siblings which might be helpful.


19. Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking

Child Trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation, whether or not they have been forced or deceived. This includes sexual exploitation, forced labour such as domestic servitude and forced criminality. 

A significant number of children who are victims of sexual exploitation go missing from home, care and education at some point. One of the key indicators in identifying cases is that children can be regularly missing school or education or not taking part in education. 

The CME Officer liaises on a regular basis with the Missing Persons and CSE Co-ordinator, Sussex Police. CSE and Trafficking training is undertaken and referral routes to relevant agencies are clear, including referral to Children’s Social Work and/or use of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).


Appendix 1: Children Missing Education – Schools Referral Procedure

Pupil Absent and School unable to contact parents

When school identifies that a pupil is not in school and remains absent for 10 school days all efforts should be made to locate the pupil before referring to the Behaviour and Attendance Team for further investigation.

Where the pupil remains absent from school, the school will contact the Children Missing Education Officer. 

The pupil must remain on roll until all reasonable enquiries have been completed. 

The pupil must remain on roll until at least 20 days of unauthorised absence.

Once it has been confirmed that the pupil may be deleted from the register the school must upload the pupil’s CTF (Common Transfer File) to the Lost Pupil Databases via the S2S website with an agreed file destination and then to inform the Children Missing Education Officer. 

Notice of withdrawal of pupil and name of new school provided

When the school is advised that a pupil is to be withdrawn it should complete a School Leaver CME Referral Form and forward it to the CME Officer. 

The CME Officer will contact the receiving local authority to ensure that an application for a school place has been made. 

The school should transfer the pupil’s CTF to the new school, where applicable.

Notice of withdrawal of pupil and name of new school not provided

When a school is advised that a pupil is to be withdrawn it should complete the School Leaver CME Referral Form and forward it to the CME Officer as soon as possible.

The CME officer will contact relevant parties to try and ascertain pupil whereabouts. 

If future provision remains unknown the pupil’s CTF should be transferred to the S2S Lost Pupil Database using an agreed destination code.

The pupil must remain on roll for 20 days.

Notice of withdrawal of pupil when family move abroad

When a school is advised that a pupil is to be withdrawn and will be moving abroad it should complete the School Leaver CME Referral Form and forward it to the CME Officer as soon as possible.

Once the pupil has completed his/her last day, they may be removed from the school roll.

The pupil’s CTF should be transferred to the Lost Pupil Database via S2S using the agreed given destination code.

When a pupil is withdrawn without warning

When a school is advised that a pupil has been withdrawn without advance warning it should contact the Children Missing Education Officer immediately. 

The CME Officer and school will work together to try and locate the pupil in the first instance. 

The CME Officer will carry out further investigations.  If there is no further contact with the family or from a new school, the pupil may be deleted from the register after 20 school days since the pupil’s last attendance. 

If future provision is still unknown the pupil’s CTF should be transferred to the Lost Pupil Database via S2S using the agreed given destination code.

When a pupil is withdrawn to be home educated

As soon as a school is advised that a child is being withdrawn to be educated at home it should inform the Education Other than at School service (using the referral to Children Missing Education form). 

The notification must be received in writing from the parents.

Once this notification has been received the pupil may be deleted from the school roll. 

The pupil’s CTF should then be transferred to the local authority via S2S using the agreed given destination code.

When a reception age pupil fails to arrive

When a place has been accepted

If the pupil fails to attend on the start date, the school must follow up the absence in the usual way to establish the reason.

If the school is unable to contact the family, the pupil should remain on roll and their education welfare officer or equivalent should conduct enquiries and refer to the CME Officer.

If the pupil remains absent after 20 school days and if all reasonable enquiries have been made the pupil can be removed from the school register.

When a place has not been accepted

If the family has not accepted a school place then the pupil need not be placed on roll.  The school may wish to keep the place open until the pupil has been confirmed in provision elsewhere.

The CME Officer should be informed so that appropriate enquiries can be made.

When a pupil fails to make the transition to Secondary School

When contact made with family

If the school have been advised by parent that the pupil will not be attending the pupil need not be placed on roll.

The CME Officer must be informed.

When no contact made with family

If no contact has been made with the family to say that the pupil will not be attending, the pupil should be placed on roll and absence followed up in the usual way.

If the pupil remains absent after 20 school days the school should contact the CME Officer to make further enquires.


Appendix 2: Children Missing Education Referral Form

Click here to see Children Missing Education Referral Form.


Appendix 3: Referral to the Behaviour and Attendance Team - Pupil Removed from School Roll

Click here to see Referral to the Behaviour and Attendance Team - Pupil Removed from School Roll.


Appendix 4: Unofficial Exclusions and Reduced Timetables for Pupils

  1. Introduction
  2. Promoting positive behaviour and early intervention
  3. The Brighton and Hove Context
  4. The legal context  -  deleting pupils from the school roll
  5. The legal context – removing pupils from school roll and from school site
  6. Reduced timetables and unofficial exclusions
  7. Procedures for managing reduced timetables
  8. Dual Placements
  9. Formal reporting to the LA – Reduced Timetables and Unofficial Exclusions

1. Introduction

This good practice guidance seeks to clarify the terms under which the school timetable may be reduced for particular pupils and how Brighton and Hove Education Behaviour and Attendance Service together with our schools can jointly manage this. The main source material is ‘Improving Behaviour and Attendance: Guidance on Exclusion for Schools and Pupil Referral Units’ – September 2008. Head teachers, teachers-in-charge of PRUs, governing bodies (and PRU Management Committees), LAs and Independent Appeal Panels “must by law have regard” to the DCSF guidance.

In order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in Brighton and Hove, it is vital that pupils are not excluded unofficially or placed on a reduced timetable without alternative provision during school hours. This is particularly important for children in care. Brighton and Hove Children’s Services acknowledge the additional pressure that can be placed on foster placements and therefore strongly advise schools not to exclude or reduce timetables for children in care.  

This guidance should be read in conjunction with Brighton and Hove’s Attendance Strategy, Behaviour Strategy and the Children Missing Education Strategy and should meet the legal requirements set out in the Pupil Registration Regulations 1995. Advice on Keeping Pupil Registers and School Attendance Codes can be found at School Attendance, Government Website.

2. Promoting positive behaviour and early intervention

It is a fundamental human right, enshrined in the UN Convention on The Rights of the Child, and put into force through European and domestic legislation, that children have a right to an education.

Schools have a duty to have effective policies and training in place, which enables the promotion of good behaviour and consistently managed procedures for dealing with misbehaviour. (See Part 1 Promoting Positive Behaviour and Early Intervention of the DCSF Guidance).

Excluding a child is therefore a serious matter, and in order to be lawful must only be done in accordance with the law. Schools that use practices to remove a child from school - temporarily or permanently - otherwise than in accordance with the law, render themselves liable to criminal prosecution or civil complaint. 

3. The Brighton and Hove Context

An alternative to exclusion is the use of an inclusion room as part of a school’s behaviour policy.   Some of our schools have used this strategy very effectively to maintain the inclusion of pupils and reduce exclusions. Governors have a role in agreeing and monitoring school behaviour policy.

Brighton and Hove Children’s Services is committed to working in partnership with schools to address incidents of unofficial or illegal exclusions which can result in pupils falling out of education for indefinite periods, sometimes becoming lost to the education system, resulting in considerable disadvantage. Brighton and Hove Children’s Services  has a duty to ensure that Children Missing Education are identified and that action is put into place to resume full time education as soon as possible. We are already have effective strategies in place to reduce the number of pupils excluded from school and these have been extremely successful. 

4. The legal context  -  deleting pupils from the school roll

Regulation 9 of the Pupil Registration Regulations 1995 stipulates the circumstances when schools can delete pupils from the registers; they cannot delete pupils from the registers in circumstances other than those stipulated in the regulations and they cannot delete pupils from the attendance register until they are deleted from the admissions register. In 2006 further amendments were made to this legislation:

  • Schools can agree to all pupils registering at more than one school rather than only those in special circumstances, which was the case in the 1995 regulations.  Linked with this change is a new restriction that pupils registered at more than one school cannot be deleted from a school’s registers unless one of the other schools agrees to the deletion. 
  • The 2006 regulations introduce a requirement that both the school and the local authority make reasonable enquiry to locate a pupil who fails to return from extended leave of absence before deleting the pupil from the registers.
  • If a pupil is certified as unlikely to return to school for health reasons, the pupil or his parents must indicate that the pupil does not intend to continue his education at the school beyond compulsory school-age.
  • The regulation allowing the deletion of pupils with four week continuous absence is now restricted to unauthorised absence but retains the requirement for both the school and the local authority to try to locate the pupil before the deletion is made.
  • Schools can only delete pupils who are in custody if they are serving a sentence of at least four months. They cannot delete pupils who are in custody for any other reason.

5. The legal context – ‘Removing pupils from a school site’

Pupils regularly receive their education at locations other than the site of the school at which they are registered, for example, field trips, sporting activities, work experience and provision at Further Education colleges.  These are routine arrangements for groups of pupils.  There are three exceptional circumstances in which pupils may be removed from school sites, these are:-

  1. There is sufficient evidence that a pupil has committed a disciplinary offence and in these circumstances the pupil may be excluded from school for a fixed period or permanently, but only in accordance with the Education Act and Regulations.
  2. A pupil is accused of a serious criminal offence, which took place outside the school’s jurisdiction.  In these circumstances the head teacher may consider that in the best interests of the pupil concerned and of the school community as a whole that the pupil should be educated off site for a fixed period.  This arrangement is subject to regular review and is not an exclusion.  (See paragraphs 29 - 31 of the DCSF guidance). 
  3. If, for medical reasons (for example, the child is suffering from a serious communicable disease) a pupil’s presence on the school site represents a serious risk to the health or safety of other pupils or school staff.  In these circumstances the head may send the pupil home that day after consultation with the parents.  This is not an exclusion and but an authorised absence for medical reasons. (See paragraph 34 of the guidance)

These are the only circumstances in which pupils may be legally removed from the school site.  In all of these circumstances, the child must remain on the school roll.

Parents should never be pressured into removing their child from the school under threat of a permanent exclusion, nor should pupils' names be deleted from the school roll on disciplinary grounds unless the formal permanent exclusion procedures set out in statute and in the DCSF guidance have been adhered to (see section on unofficial exclusion in paragraphs 25 - 28 of the guidance).

Permanently excluded pupils may not be taken off roll until the Discipline Committee has ratified the exclusion and the period during which an appeal by parents or pupil  (over 18 years old) can be lodged has expired.  For the circumstances in which a pupil may be removed from a school roll please refer to the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006  DfE.

Informal or unofficial exclusions are illegal regardless of whether they are agreed with parents or carers.  Legal issues include:-

  • They amount to a breach of the child’s fundamental right to education;
  • The school has a duty to safeguard the welfare of its pupils and by sending a child home unlawfully, Head teachers may be in breach of this duty especially where the child suffers harm as a result;
  • For pupils with Special Educational Needs reduced timetables contravene the SEN Disability Act and the Disabilities Discrimination Act and may impede the fulfilment of a child’s Statement;
  • There is no Department for Education guidance on managing reduced attendance and consequently arrangements have no legal basis;
  • There is no mechanism for review or appeal if formal exclusions process not followed, however parents and students may give informed consent to a managed move to avoid permanent exclusion;
  • There is no educational provision for pupils unofficially excluded;
  • It is a criminal offence to keep registers incorrectly, or to remove a child from the school roll otherwise than in accordance with the Regulations;
  • Department of Education Exclusions guidance to schools and LAs, revised September 2008, contains explicit reference to illegality of unofficial exclusions.

6. Reduced timetables and unofficial exclusions

It is for the reasons set out above that we need to work together to ensure that pupils and schools are supported and that children remain safe.  Head teachers (and those in an ‘acting’ role) in schools are sometimes tempted to ‘soften the blow’ of a formal exclusion by sending pupils home for a ‘cooling off’ period or recommending that parents keep their children at home for a variety of reasons. Such informal agreements with parents are often justified as avoiding an exclusion that would appear in the child’s school record or as a means of maintaining the child in school. However, they do not allow the true nature of a child’s Special Educational Needs to be recorded nor do they enable Head teachers to analyse issues at whole school or group level, which can be addressed through positive support and interventions.  Examples of unofficial exclusion reported to the LA include:-

  • Pupils sent home for disciplinary reasons without formal exclusion procedures being followed - this may include informal arrangements being made with parents or by coercion;
  • Pupils who should be marked as unauthorised absence marked as authorised absence, or in worst case scenarios as attending;
  • Pupils sent home where there are attendance problems – particularly where legal proceedings are in process;
  • Following a fixed period exclusion, a pupil remains out of school;
  • Awaiting a reintegration interview which may be indefinitely delayed and the pupil does not return to school (see paragraph 20 of the exclusions guidance for information on reintegration interviews);
  • Parents being advised that if their child returns to school after the fixed period ends, that the child will be permanently excluded;
  • Pupils sent home or advised not to attend during the period of the school OfSTED Inspection;
  • Parents are strongly encouraged to de-register their child and apply to Electively Home Educate even though they may not be fully aware of their responsibilities in relation to this;
  • Pupils placed on study leave for periods longer than the recommended guidance;
  • Pupil eventually removed from school roll although not registered with another school;
  • As reduced timetables should only be recorded as an authorised absence, it will have an impact on the overall attendance rate for the school (percentage achieved).

7. Procedures for managing reduced attendance

  • Reduced timetables should only be negotiated through Pastoral Support Programmes, Annual Reviews or Attendance Support Meetings or through re-integration meetings and must have an agreed date for the return to full time education.
  • Reduced attendance must be a formal agreement between the school, parents, the child (as appropriate) or young person.
  • Reduced timetables should be time-limited.  Under normal circumstances a 4 week gradual return to full-time attendance is sufficient except in exceptional circumstances, for example a child who is suffering from a medical or psychological condition and it is not possible for the child to attend school full time.
  • Arrangements must be kept under regular review and include:-
    1. A detailed assessment of the child’s needs;
    2. Clearly documented IEP, PSP and PEP reviews (as appropriate) showing interventions and outcomes – there may be multi-agency working by the Schools and Community Area Teams;
    3. A detailed action plan which informs the LA of the timetable and  demonstrates clear planned progression from part-time to full time provision that specifies additional help and support required;
    4. Details of how the school will ensure that the child’s educational provision  is maintained;
    5. It is the school’s responsibility to ensure a package of full time support is provided for the time when the child is not in school, this could be through youth support services, supervised work at home which must be returned and marked, SAM learning, counselling sessions;
    6. Details of how the pupil will access their entitlement to the full national curriculum;
    7. A date when full time provision in school will be achieved, usually no more than twenty school days from commencement.
  • The pupil should be managed within the context of the Code of Practice for SEN including support provided from school funds for pupils who do not have a Education, Health and Care Plan - advice should be sought from the SEN Assessment Team for pupils with a Education, Health and Care Plan or from appropriate professionals within the Schools and Community Area Team;
  • For Statemented pupils, reduced timetables should be agreed through an Annual Review and their Statement amended to reflect the new arrangement with regular monitoring reviews;
  • For Children in Care, the planning needs to include anyone defined as a ‘parent’ (the LA if the child is subject to a care order, legal guardians, foster parents and birth parents if appropriate);
  • A Children’s Social Work representative needs to be involved if the child or family have an allocated social worker;
  • When pupils are temporarily engaged in part-time attendance the register should reflect the agreed arrangements and should be marked as an authorised absence;
  • Once the period of a fixed term exclusion is ended the pupil has a right to return to school; schools must not block this if the parent does not attend a “re-admission” meeting.  Nevertheless, pupils re-integrating to school after a long fixed term or permanent exclusion may benefit from gradual, supported re-integration to prevent further exclusion.

8. Dual Placements

It is sometimes appropriate, and may be in a Education, Health and Care Plan that a pupil should have dual placement between mainstream and special school.

It is vital that the two educational establishments maintain contact regarding the pupil’s attendance at both schools. 

9. Formal reporting to the LA – Reduced Timetables and Unofficial Exclusions

The Local Authority requests information on pupils attending part-time from Head teachers, it the responsibility of the Head teacher or representative to provide this information. 

If a LA officer becomes aware of a pupil on reduced timetable or has been unofficially excluded they should discuss this with the Head teacher.  

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