Heidi Alexander – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Education

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Heidi Alexander on 2014-04-25.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what data his Department collects on children missing education; what information schools are expected to record in the Lost Pupil Database, part of his Department’s school2school site; and how many pupils’ records were held in the Lost Pupil Database on 1 February (a) 2014, (b) 2013, (c) 2012, (d) 2011 and (e) 2010.

Elizabeth Truss

The Department for Education does not collect data on children missing education. Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 places a duty on local authorities to have arrangements that enable them to establish the identities of children in their area who are not registered pupils at a school, and are not receiving suitable education through a means other than at a school. Local authorities may decide as part of this duty to collect information on children who may be missing education or at risk of doing so. The Department’s statutory guidance to local authorities advises that they must have robust procedures in place to fulfil their legal duty.

The ‘lost pupils database’ (LPD) records the transfer records of pupils whose correct destination is not known. Files are retained whenever a child leaves a school for a destination outside the maintained school sector. Examples of these destinations include ‘gone to an independent school’, ‘gone sick’, ‘moved abroad with parents’ or ‘moved on without reason’.

The LPD is not used by Children Missing Education (CME) officers to record CME data. The primary function of the Department’s School to School (S2S) secure data transfer website is to provide schools and Local Authorities (LAs) with a mechanism for the secure and ongoing transfer of thousands of statutory child-level data files per week to new schools/LAs when children move school.

The details required for the Lost Pupil Database are:

File Name
Source school
Source LA
Former UPN
Former Surname
Middle Names
FSM eligibility
In Care
Care Authority
SEN status
Start Date
Sessions Possible
Sessions Attended
Sessions Unauthorised
First Language

LPD records are stored for a minimum of 12 months. The last ‘clear down’ took place in October 2013 which means monthly additions are only held back to October 2012. At 1 February 2014, 15,128 records were held on the system. Records are not removed from the system until the general ‘clear down’, so the figure does not represent pupils missing from education at any given time.