Children Missing from Education
Absent and missing from education
We believe children being absent from education for prolonged periods and/or on repeat occasions can act as a vital warning sign to a range of safeguarding issues. Our response to persistently absent pupils and children missing education will support identifying such abuse, and in the case of absent pupils, helps prevent the risk of them becoming a child missing education in the future. This includes when problems are first emerging but also where children are already known to local authority children’s social care and need a social worker (such as a child who is a child in need or who has a child protection plan, or is a looked after child), where being absent from education may increase known safeguarding risks within the family or in the community.
The recognised figure for severely absent is 50% or less and persistent absence is being less than 90%, although concerns may still be raised if above this.
We will require the behaviour and attendance lead to refer to and use the established protocol document of notification to the Local Authority, filling out the appropriate paperwork, policies and procedures for identifying pupils who are absent from education and policies and procedures for pupils on a modified timetable (available from Telford & Wrekin Council).
In addition to the above and where reasonably possible we will endeavour to hold more than one emergency contact number for each pupil. This goes beyond the legal minimum and is good practice to give us additional options to make contact with a responsible adult when a child is absent from education and poses a potential welfare/safeguarding concern. Where a child is on a Child Protection Plan has been missing from school for two consecutive days, we will notify the child’s allocated social worker.
Where children leave the classroom or leave our grounds without permission, this is covered within our behaviour management policy and is also set against the backdrop of the legal framework of the Children Act 1989 s3 (5); ‘Anyone who has care of a child without parental responsibility may do what is “reasonable” in all the circumstances to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare. It is likely to be “reasonable” to inform the police, or children’s services departments, and, if appropriate, their parents, of the child/young person’s safety and whereabouts’. However, in principle, if a pupil runs out of class we will establish where he or she has gone. Staff will not run after them but will seek additional support. It is advisable to keep a watchful eye on any children who has taken themselves out of our building and possibly out of our grounds, unless this watchful eye provokes the child to run further. It is and will be a judgement call for staff to take what they feel is reasonable action in line with the advice above. If a child is no longer on the premises, we will contact parents in the first instance. If they are not contactable, we will inform the police that a pupil has left and is at risk.
Where children have gone missing, we will follow the West Mercia Pathway for Children who go Missing from Home, care or Education.