This comes in the wake of the recent news regarding Helen Daykin’s children, who spent nearly 24 hours alone and did not attend school when their father Chris died suddenly of heart failure.
Helen often travelled away for work while Chris looked after their two small daughters, Pearl and Iris.
When a child doesn’t attend, a school will normally call parents to check whether they are ill. Pearl’s school had tried Chris’s number, but didn’t ring Helen.
Ruth Davies of the Contact Group, said:
‘We always recommend that all of the schools that use our Call Parents system have a minimum of two contacts, but highly recommend three or more.
‘This is to ensure that all bases are covered when trying to contact a child’s family, and takes into consideration separated families, carers who work away, uncharged mobiles or instances where a contact simply cannot be reached.
‘In light of Helen’s case, we are now urging all schools to review the contacts they have for a child, and to increase the number of contact options as a matter of priority.’
‘I’d like all schools to overhaul how they check up on children who don’t arrive at school. Schools should hold second and third contact numbers, while also ensuring that at least one contact is a person who lives at a different address to the child.
‘Contacting parents of absent children should be as ingrained in school procedures as the fire alarm.
‘I feel sure that if this had happened on a day when Iris had been in nursery, the nursery would have persevered until they had reached me to establish why she wasn’t in nursery.’
‘Schools also need a clear plan about what to do if they can’t get though on the numbers they have been given. So, a home visit and then contacting the police as the next steps and all this needs to be done in a timely fashion.’
The Contact Group provides a wide range of communication and data services to nurseries, schools and colleges. From a call parents system and parents’ evening booking to a bullying reporting system and more, the company listens to what customers want and provides solutions that help engage parents, governors, staff and students.
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