Call for schools to improve checks on pupils who do not turn up…
The tragic story of the sudden death of a father whose daughters spent almost 24 hours with his body, hit headline BBC News this week. Their bereaved mother is now calling for schools to make extra checks on pupils who do not turn up.
Helen Daykin, who says “there’s no reason why this couldn’t happen again…”, is campaigning for the government to ask schools in England to make extra checks, including keeping an extra contact number to call when children don’t turn up.
Helen often travelled away for work while her husband stayed at home to look after their two small daughters, Pearl and Iris. When she rang in the morning she thought he was busy with the school run, then later that he might have lost his phone as there was no answer. At teatime, Helen’s mother drove over but couldn’t open the door because Chris had left the keys in on the other side. Police were later called to break down the door, but at 20.00 Helen got a call to say that her husband had died but the children were alright. Pearl, who was four years old, had started school just a few weeks earlier. Iris was two. Helen says they were found by the police, in bed with his dead body, and that the trauma has stayed with the girls. Sadly, this is not an isolated case in recent years.
When a child doesn’t attend, a school will normally call their contact number to check whether they are ill. Pearl’s school had tried Chris’s number, but didn’t ring Helen. Helen wants all schools to overhaul how they check up on children who don’t arrive at school. She says second and third contact numbers and home visits should be part of their plans. She particularly wants schools to not only hold at least 3 contacts; but to ensure that 1 is a person who lives at a different address to the child. She believes contacting parents of absent children should be as ingrained in school procedures as the fire alarm.
Helen Daykin told Contact Group ‘…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’.
Contact Group encourages all its schools with Call Parents (its messaging platform) to have a minimum of 2 contacts, but highly recommends 3 or more contacts listed on a child’s account. This is to ensure that all bases are covered when trying to contact a child’s family, taking in to account separated families, parents/carers working away, uncharged mobiles, or instances where a contact simply cannot be reached. In light of Helen’s campaign, we are now urging all our schools to review the contacts they have for a child, and to increase the number of contact options where possible, to prevent such a tragedy from happening to another family.
If as a school, you require any further guidance regarding listed contacts on Call Parents, please give the Customer Services Team a call on 03333 13 14 15 (option 2).
Photo: Helen Daykin and her children, Pearl and Iris.