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6.23 Protocol for Children who are Uncollected from School

Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Principles
  3. School/Education Setting Responsibilities
  4. Specialist Children's Services (MASH Duty Service) Responsibilities
  5. After-School Activities
  6. Children with Special Educational Needs who are Transported from School to Home
  7. Pupils who Parent/Carer reuses to Comply with a School Exclusion
  8. Escalation


1. Purpose 

To update and agree actions that will be taken between Schools/Educational Settings and Specialist Children's Services where:


2. Principles

The responsibility for children who are uncollected from school rests jointly with Specialist Children's Services (Children's Social Care) and Head Teachers or Education Setting Managers, who will work in partnership to ensure at all times that the needs of the child are the first and paramount consideration

Children who are abandoned by their parents/carers are ultimately required to be Accommodated by the Council

The incidents of uncollected children can be minimised through up to date record keeping, clear expectations upon parents and timely and coordinated interventions

Children will only be taken to police stations where there is no other way of ensuring their welfare or safeguarding them.


3. School/Education Setting Responsibilities

Schools will ensure that they obtain detailed records of parents/carers and of emergency contacts when pupils are admitted and these will be updated at least on an annual basis

Parents/carers need clear guidance in respect of the circumstances under which pupils will make their own way home e.g. that Key Stage 1 children or pupils with high levels of additional needs or Special Educational Needs will only be released into the care of named adults.

Parents will be informed of the importance of collecting their children on time and of the expectation that they should contact the school or education setting as soon as it appears that they may have a problem.

Schools need to make sure that telephones are answered throughout the school day and whilst any uncollected pupil may be on the premises.

Schools should not release children to a person who is not known to them or acting with the parent's written authorisation. Where there is any doubt as to the identity or suitability of such a person and there is no other way of ensuring the child's safety, this will be referred to the police as an emergency.

Schools must have arrangements in place for the proper care and supervision of uncollected children, for whom they retain a duty of care until the parent / carer has collected them or they have been transferred into the care of a Council or police officer or approved carer.

If a pupil remains uncollected at the end of the school day, active steps will be taken by the school to contact the parent/carer or emergency contact by telephone.

If contact cannot be established within a further 30 minutes (or by 16.30 if this is sooner), a senior member of the school staff will contact the MASH duty service to agree upon a timescale for further actions and ultimate hand-over of the child, as appropriate.

Initial contact with the Duty Service should take place no later than 16.30 - bearing in mind that referrals after 17.00 are directed to a solitary Emergency Duty Social Worker, who will not ordinarily have access to records and facilities that are available during normal office hours.

In order to safeguard the child and the school, it is advisable that the school deploys at least 2 members of staff to support this function.

If the child is being taken to an agreed venue or foster home in preparation for their being Accommodated, the school will, if practicable, leave a message at the family home about the child's whereabouts and contact numbers.


4. Specialist Children's Services (MASH Duty Service) Responsibilities

Duty managers will be directly available to Head Teachers to discuss concerns about pupils who have not been collected by their parent or carer within 60 minutes of the school day ending or by 16.30; whichever is the sooner.

They will agree a timetable for further actions that may be required to secure the care of the child, should they remain uncollected and deemed to have been abandoned.

If the child does need to be Accommodated, agreement will be reached as to the most suitable arrangements for the child to be collected or transported from the school to a Council office or emergency placement.

The duty manager will ensure that the school has a contact number for the duty service beyond normal office hours.

The duty manager will liaise with the Emergency Duty Social Worker or police service as appropriate regarding possible follow-up contact with parents/carers out of office hours.

Duty managers will consider the need for follow-up investigations where the failure to collect a child indicates ongoing parenting concerns that might fall within the Section 17 / 47 responsibilities of Children's Services, i.e. which may indicate that the child is a Child in Need and that a Section 47 Enquiry is required.


5. After-School Activities

Where a child, who is normally collected at the end of the club or session, is not collected by a responsible person, contact will be made with the child's parent or carer or the emergency contact.

After-school clubs will obtain from parents the name of an alternative carer or emergency contact.

If the child remains uncollected 30 minutes after the end of the session (or by 16.45 for activities that are scheduled to end at 16.30) and the alternative carer is not available, the Head teacher or Centre Manager will contact the MASH duty service.

For sessions that end after 17.00, the contact will be the Emergency Duty Social Worker.


6. Children with Special Educational Needs who are Transported from School to Home

Established procedures require escorts/drivers to notify the pupil's school if they are unable to drop-off a pupil at their home or meeting point due to the absence of the parent or carer. The school should ensure that contact telephone numbers are staffed until the end of the transport round to facilitate this communication and to be available to parents to report a problem.

The school will then contact the MASH duty service to agree actions that will be taken, should the parent/carer not be at the home or meeting point when the transport makes a second attempt to deliver the pupil.

The driver/escort will then be asked to return the pupil to the school, unless agreement has been reached in the meantime for the pupil to be left at Sunshine House.

Repeated failure by the parents/carers to fulfil their responsibilities will be considered under the school's Child Protection Procedures.


7. Pupils whose Parent/Carer Refuses to Comply with a School Exclusion

When a school excludes a pupil, the safety and welfare of the child remains the exclusive responsibility of the parent or carer.

If a parent refuses to cooperate with an exclusion and continues to send the child school, the school should not place an unaccompanied child at risk by refusing to allow them on site.

If the parent refuses to collect the child from school, the school may impose an internal exclusion or defer the exclusion until such time as the parent cooperates with the exclusion.

Continued refusal by the parent/carer to cooperate with the exclusion should be considered under the school's Child Protection Policy as potentially placing the child at risk of Significant Harm to their emotional or intellectual development.

8. Escalation

The standard Child Protection escalation procedures will apply where disputes arise in respect of individual cases - see IRO Dispute Resolution Process and Flowchart.

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