Safeguarding issue? – my daughter walked out of school

Last week, my daughter came home and announced that she had something really awful to a girl in her class. I don’ even want to say what it was which should get across to you that it was really bad.

The next day, her Dad delivered her to breakfast club as usual. Just as I was settling into some work, the door bell rang. I could see my daughter through the door. I was shocked. I asked her what was happening and she said she had left school as she knew she was going to be in trouble for the incident the day before.

I asked her how she got out of school and whether anyone had seen her. She said she had walked into the playground and out through the gate and made her way home. The school is over a mile away from our house.

We talked for a few minutes and then the telephone rang. It was her school and I reassured them that she was with me and I would return her as soon as possible.

We walked back to school and the receptionist returned her to class saying the Head would be having word with her later and would be firm but fair. It was not easy to leave her as she was clearly upset. I asked if it would be helpful for me to talk to the Head and was told that was not necessary.

At the end of the school day, I picked her up and she told me the Head had a chat with her and the matter was now closed.

My concern on the day was dealing with the unexpected incident and ensuring she felt as OK as possible but also knew she would have to accept some discipline.

When I talked on Twitter about my day, other parents and people involved in teaching said this was a serious safeguarding matter.

We are new to the area. A big part of me does not want to make a fuss or to be seen as a difficult parent.

However, the very next day, the children in the school received a letter for us about an attempted abduction of a child in the next village.

It does make you think.

Should I say something to the school or leave things as they are?

I should point out that the gate to the school was still open when I returned my daughter to school.

What would you do?

11 Comments

  1. Candace May 28, 2014 / 8:36 pm

    Write formally to the head. Anything could have happened to her. Thank God nothing did. What happens if a younger child gets out and is knocked over by a vehicle?

    Better to be safe than sorry. Bring it up as a can we learn from this slant as opposed to having a go at them.
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  2. Glenys May 28, 2014 / 9:11 pm

    Schools are not prisons. At my grandchildren’s school, which has increased security since my own children went there (sign of the times?). The playground isn’t secure, ie., gate can be opened but the door in has a number pad, the receptionist lets you in if it’s not start & end times otherwise teachers are on the doors & they don’t let a child out until they’ve told them their parent/carer is there. Parents stay with children till they go in on a morning. Is she infants or juniors? What is the protocol at the school for them coming out? I asked my eldest grandchild at what age they are allowed to walk home themselves. There is a main road to cross & no lollipop person anymore. I asked him this as he is 9 & I thought he should be able to come to ours from school by himself at some point. He asked his form teacher & was told only if he lived on the 3 streets surrounding the school (no main rd to cross), with a letter from the parent, would he be allowed out on his own. So they get to 11, have to go to secondary school, which is much farther away & get themselves to & from school without having done it before. How did she get out of their care? I agree it is a safeguarding issue & it is difficult with you being new. I would contact them just to clear it up. Use the abduction letter as an excuse.

  3. Ojo Henley May 28, 2014 / 9:29 pm

    I don’t think children should be locked in, but I do think that there should be enough staff there, that they notice when a child walks out! Having a child that tends to wander, and having no danger awareness, this terrifies me.
    I would definitely make an appointment to see the head, but with your daughter. Nip it in the bud, before it becomes a concern xx
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  4. Mummy Bear May 29, 2014 / 6:52 am

    On my goodness! Without a shadow of a doubt, I would be making an urgent appointment to see the head. Possibly not even an appointment – I think I would be be waiting outside their office door… I don’t know how old your daughter is but if she’s old enough to walk home, there will be others in school who are younger and could also find the open gate. This has taken my breath away and I hope you get some answers…
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  5. Carol May 29, 2014 / 7:03 am

    I would defiantly ask for a meeting with the head and the Chairman of the governors to discuss the safety of your daughter and that of the other children. It’s not just a case of the children getting out but also people getting in that should not be there. Please let us know how you get on.
    Carolx
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  6. Rachelradiostar May 29, 2014 / 12:47 pm

    What time did she leave the school premises? Was it before the school bell at 9am? At my school we lock the external gates but some have to be open for visitors and delivery. The doors into school are security locked ( since Dunblane ) and all staff are trained in safeguarding. We have a breakfast club, and the children who attend there are handed over to the staff on duty at 8.45 – the time when school becomes legally responsible. But we have so many children esp in ks2 who are arriving at 8.30 and to all intense purposes they are unsupervised. I’m glad your girl is ok, but your school should have it’s safeguarding policy online or on request. We will NEVER chase a child who is ‘escaping’ ie leaving the premises because of the. Busy main road. Imagine trying your best to catch a distressed child only to have them charge out in front of a car? We call the police.
    I hope school sorted the incident properly.
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  7. Midlife Singlemum May 29, 2014 / 4:41 pm

    I think you should speak to your daughter about the dangers of leaving school unannounced. No one would know if she was kidnapped, if there was a fire at school they might risk lives trying to find her in the building, etc… (etc means I can’t think of any other examples atm.) I agree that a school should not be a prison so you have to teach your child to be responsible.
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  8. Sarah MumofThree World June 27, 2014 / 10:44 am

    That’s really scary. The school gate should be locked during school hours (preferably with intercom access), but if she walked out before anyone knew she was in school and before the gate had been locked for the day, I guess the school can’t be held accountable. If the school did know she was in or the gate should have been locked at that time (ie the school day had started), that’s definitely a discussion with the head. A mile is a long way for a child to walk on their own when nobody knows where they are.
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  9. suzanne3childrenandit July 7, 2014 / 11:40 am

    Our secondary school doesn’t even have a gate! Thinking about it, it probably would be relatively easy to walk out of the school. If they had to go past the receptionist however, I don’t think she would allow it. But I guess they could leave the premises from another door. It is quite scary if you think about what could have happened. It also took them a while to realise she was missing!
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  10. Izzie Anderton July 7, 2014 / 3:12 pm

    I would arrange a meeting with the Head to discuss your concerns. But also, you need to have a long chat with your daughter and explain why leaving school was not a great decision. Good luck.
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