Writing in the Guardian, Estelle Morris says Sir Michael Wishaw is right in suggesting we need to watch out for children taken out of school and at risk, but argues schools need a local community support system around them for this to work.
…Unlike many other areas of education policy, at least in this case there is broad agreement about what needs to be achieved…
My worry is that the direction of travel of our school system doesn’t help them to deliver. We need schools that are connected to the communities where their pupils live, staff with expertise and time to follow up concerns, and for partnerships with social services, the police and local authorities that are well resourced and built on agreed priorities and trust.
This idea of schools being at the centre of a range of services and home to different professionals has never developed in the way many hoped – the best attempt was probably the Every Child Matters agenda, which was dismantled by the coalition government. If you take away an infrastructure like that and leave only an emphasis on standards and measurable academic achievement, the systems and professional relationships around schools aren’t there when you need them. We need them now.
I don’t doubt the determination of ministers to solve the problem of disappearing children, but their initial reaction risked sounding as though the answer was to call on others to try harder.
It should not be beyond the ability of schools to maintain registers in a robust, systematic and timely manner. But it is what happens next that could be the weak link. In this, we need more imaginative thinking from the government than has been evident so far…
Is this a fair point being made here by Estelle Morris and, if so, what are the systems and support networks you would most like to see in place if schools are to be able to act on concerns about missing children?
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