Tracking children (and their families) who have gone missing from education

There are significant child protection implications when the whereabouts of a child is not known. The local authority has a duty to locate, track and monitor children missing from education and support them in returning to education.

What are a school's responsibilities when a child is absent?

You should always assess the child’s safeguarding risk at their own address using thresholds and pathways. For example, is there a risk of forced marriage, child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, radicalisation, honour based violence? If the judgement is the child is at risk of harm, contact the police or social care immediately

If a pupil is absent, all schools have a responsibility to contact the parent or carer on the first day of absence and continue to make every effort to locate the pupil. When you have identified the child is not in school, please follow the procedure below.

Day 1 - Phone call

A staff member trained to do so, telephones the child’s home to seek reasons for the absence and reassurance from a parent or carer that the child is safe at home. ​

Response from parentNext step from school
​There is no answer at the home or on mobile numbers​Call back. Risk assess after 2 hours
​The parent/carer answered the call, the child is safe with them​Ask for reason for absence and record on your school's attendance management system 
​The person answering is not the parent/carer and the school is not reassured that the child is at home or safe

​The school’s designated lead for child protection should be consulted on a risk assessment and the degree of vulnerability of the child

​The parent/carer answered the call, the child is
not with them or safe and the parent is concerned

​School to advise the parent to:

  • Contact the local police station to inform them that the child is missing
  • Contact all people and places the child is known to talk to and visit to tell them that the child is missing and ask if they can help to find the child, by providing information which may shed light on the child’s whereabouts or actively searching for the child
  • Contact the family GP and Accident and Emergency Centres near where the child lives and goes to school, in case he/she has sustained an injury and been taken in for medical treatment
  • Report back to school if the child is found or remains missing

Day 2 - Follow up phone call 

A subsequent telephone call must be made either from the school landline or preferably a mobile phone.

Day 3 – Write/email parents

Write or email to the parent in plain English, asking for contact to be made with the school immediately. Please give the parents/carers 3 working days to make contact and if you are aware that English may not be the parent’s first language, copy the letter into a language that may be more accessible. ​

Day 5/6  - Home visit

Arrange a visit to the home address ensuring that risk assessments are in place ​

Once you have completed these checks (or within 10 days, whichever is earlier)

If the child has not been seen and the parents or carers have not made contact with either, schools must report the child as missing from education.

How do I report a child missing from education?

North Northamptonshire Council

North Northamptonshire Council covers the following areas:

  • Kettering
  • Corby
  • East Northants
  • Wellingborough

If the child attends a school in or near one of these areas please complete the North Northamptonshire form:

Report a child missing from education - North Northamptonshire

West Northamptonshire Council

West Northamptonshire Council covers the following areas:

  • Daventry
  • Northampton
  • South Northants

If the child attends a school in or near one of these areas please complete the West Northamptonshire form:

Report a child missing from education - West Northamptonshire

Note: This form is for Northamptonshire schools only. If you are from another local authority, please email us at

What happens when I've completed a form?

We will refer the case to one of our CME Tracking Officers who will complete further investigations and feedback to schools.

Our CME Tracking Officer will let you know (usually within 10 working days) if the child can be removed from your school roll.