Talking about my local authority and education policy in Aberdeen has mostly been focussed on my middle child who is fairly impaired brain wise. I have had the odd niggle with a teacher at primary school, but it was pretty good for eldest there.
Moving on to secondary at the tender age of 11 – 12, things change dramatically. He’s not the best, nor the worst behaved at secondary, but apart from a few minutes late sometimes, he’s not been a truanter at all.
Our secondary is a few miles away from the village, so kids are transported there by bus and he is there half an hour before school starts EVERY DAY.
A few days ago, my boy, along with a few others went to registration as normal.
At about 12.30 – 1pm I noticed a TEXT on my phone saying.
“Your child has not shown up to their Period 3 class today. Please contact the school to inform us of the reason for this absence. Thank you”
I contact the school to be told he hadn’t shown up for his Period 4 class either. There were a few other kids also missing, but they wouldn’t tell me who they were. It’s easier to find a group than one child, but hey ho, we have to follow the rules.
He had effectively been missing since 10.55 – almost 2 hours – and they didn’t think that was a necessary reason to actually call a parent and speak to someone in person.
That meant by the time I found him after trawling the streets round school, he’d been missing for nearly 3 hours.
He explains the reason for bunking off as not wanting to go to a class as the teacher just screams at a couple of them all the time. Who knows what the real reason is, and it really doesn’t matter.
I had an appointment with the new Deputy Head yesterday who is adamant that a Groupcall Text is appropriate to notify a parent that a child is missing from school. It’s local authority policy apparently, and they believe they’ve done their job. One of the other parents didn’t even know her child had been missing until I phoned her in the evening to see if the kids stories matched.
None of these kids are known for truanting so I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the school admin office to make sure they actually speak to a person if a child is missing from school unexpectedly. Parents often don’t get to check their phones at all if they’re working or busy.
I actually sat there in the meeting and felt like I had forked tongue disease or over anxious mum stamped on my forehead as they were incredulous that I find it out-of-order for them to not to notify a real live human being when a child is missing.
I didn’t go too much into why I think it’s unacceptable as they weren’t prepared to even consider the fact, but the first few hours when kids go missing is crucial if something dangerous has happened or there has been an accident. With sub-zero temperatures outside, I find it incredible that they really think it’s not necessary to contact a living breathing person.
I was given excuses like how busy they are, they don’t have the time, kids can leave school any time they like through the emergency doors and so on. Our local primary school manages to notify parents of important things and they have far fewer admin staff than the secondary, so I’m not buying that kind of excuse. This was school hours and part of their duty of care as far as I am concerned.
I’m aware that some kids are very grown up and responsible at around 11 – 12, but I wouldn’t say this group are. So, I guess my question really is, how long after a child is missing should schools contact parents, and how?