Estelle Morris: What should really happen when a child goes missing from school?

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…

More at: What should really happen when a child goes missing from school?


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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Categories: Policy and Safeguarding.


  1. nancygedge

    SchoolsImprove schools increasingly fenced off from communities – and how many Ts from the same locality?

  2. DanielLambretta

    Ian_C_Thomas time to get SW’s school based or have link up surgerys regularly. Agencies r better at working together but still a way 2 go

  3. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove ‘connected school’s’ wdn’t be doing leisured gentlefolk curriculum on council estates. suzyg001

  4. Ian_C_Thomas

    DanielLambretta not sure about school based but certainly more scope to join up provision with LA early help teams & Social Workers. Agree.

  5. catch22frances

    Ian_C_Thomas shared understanding and joined up work with schools having vital role #missing and cse

  6. nancygedge SchoolsImprove And how many teachers stay in a school long enough to get to know pupils’ families and local circumstances?

  7. writeandraise

    Janet2 nancygedge SchoolsImprove  You have hit the nail on the head. So many social structures are changing, exposing weak family links that normally would have shielded many children from risks. Without this everyone becomes reliant on policy makers who do not know the children they are drafting policies for (remember David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’), to replace genuine human interactions. That is why all the twits so far agree it is a good idea in principle but no one has offered solutions. Until Governments help to enable social systems that truly support community cohesion, then we will be forever seeking solutions for symptoms rather than the root causes. Rolling out large scale privatisation programs on every conceivable public sector assets may be efficient, but certainly does not help community causes. In a growing monetary facing environments like we have, the instinct of many is to say ‘That’s not my job, or I’m not paid to do that’.

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