After school club didn't tell us DS(8) hadn't turned up and he was in fact home alone

(59 Posts)
chicaguapa Fri 11-Jan-13 23:28:44

DD(11) comes home after school every day, while DS goes to the after school club in the school 3 days a week. Today DH went to pick him up at 4.30 pm and DS wasn't there. shock They said they weren't expecting him, although he goes on that day every week.

Meanwhile DS had forgotten it was an after school club day because they'd had an inset day on Monday so he'd got his days mixed up. On the 2 days he comes home, he walks back and DH arrives home about 5 minutes later, so it wouldn't have been obvious that DS should have been at after school club. By the time he'd put the computer on, both DD and DS lost track of time and didn't realise DH hadn't come home.

DH rushed home and DS was there with DD and had been there since school had finished at 3 pm. DH went back up to school to find out what had happened and they said that they'd been told by DS that he was going to a friend's and wasn't coming. hmm The person in charge was very defensive and DH said that only he or I were able to tell them DS wouldn't be coming. Anyway, long story short is that they'd mixed DS up with another boy and had got their wires crossed.

WWYD? DH is still livid that for the time between arriving at school to pick up DS no-one knew where DS was, when we in fact pay them to look after him after school. I'm just glad he was at home because they'd have been up shit creek if he hadn't been. I'm just wondering if we should take it further as I think it's a serious breach of the DC's safety if they don't have the right controls in place. It's run by an outside company so nothing to do with the school. Thanks.

chicaguapa Wed 16-Jan-13 07:29:02

Thanks for the majority support.

hothead It's a good question and it's a good idea to find out. When we started letting them walk to school, we told them how important it was that they arrived and we were trusting them to do so. They'd only have one chance to destroy that. We're not putting all the onus on the school and the DC know it's up to them to get themselves there.

Even in this case DS came straight home. He just didn't know what to do when it turned out he'd made a mistake. We hadn't covered that scenario before. hmm

But you do expect the school to let you know if he's not there. I always phone if they're off, so hopefully there'd be no question that he was supposed to be there if I hadn't phoned.

Once they were being picked up by someone else after school and were asked to wait outside the school office. The school phoned in a panic as the person had arrived to collect them and DC weren't there. She found them outside as to DD where we'd said was in the school office and they were outside. Luckily the school understood where the confusion came from.

So I do think it's important to let the school know what's happening so they don't get fed up looking for your DC all the time. It's just about making sure the relationship is as good as it can be.

steppemum Wed 16-Jan-13 00:11:40

My dd has just started Y3. I allow her to walk home sometimes when it is light enough, sometimes at 3:20, sometimes after club.

We live round the corner from school, no roads to cross.

I think it is very important for their independance to learn to do this. I am waiting at home, and if she is late/slow I would start walking to school.

I also allow her to go to the library in our road and the corner shop. Short safe distances with a time limit and task. Why on earth wouldn't you teach them this, as long as you have the context. (couldn't do it if we lived on a busy road for example)

PickledApples Tue 15-Jan-13 23:50:14

Sounds good - but I would still be asking for a copy of their policy for registration / checking records etc and probably reporting to OFSTED for the sheer fact they have been so shitty about it - and it is a very serious issue at that. Did the letter state what happens if a child doesn't show up? i.e. anything about ensuring contact details are up to date, we will phone after 10 minutes if a child does not attend (who should be there iyswim) or anything?

HotheadPaisan Tue 15-Jan-13 23:32:39

Glad this is sorted, shame about their attitude.

Just a thought, if your DC walk to school and don't arrive, at what point would an alarm be raised? I'm thinking we're supposed to call in by 9.30am but that could be quite some time before we're called to find out where they are.

Just curious for future reference.

BackforGood Tue 15-Jan-13 23:20:34

Excellent.
Only what it should have been in the first place of course, but at least that has now been acknowledged in writing. Well done to you and dh for making the time to persue it.

chicaguapa Tue 15-Jan-13 23:16:25

Good news! We've got a letter addressed to all parents at the ASC saying that their policy has now changed and parents must let them know themselves if their DC isn't coming, and they cannot send a message through the DC.

Which is what we wanted really so this couldn't happen again. It's good that they've changed it so quickly.

The staff there were really shitty with DH today when he picked up, but I think some people just aren't big enough to admit they made a mistake and get on with it. And DH has a thick skin. grin As long as they don't take it out on DS, but apparently he's had the best time ever there today so that doesn't seem to be the case.

chicaguapa Tue 15-Jan-13 22:05:39

Haha! Lots of different opinions makes the world go round. hmm

I used to take DC up to school and pick them up. I'd find myself walking way behind them while they'd scootered off with their friends and then they would wait at the school gate for me to catch up or outside the house. They begged me to let them go alone.

They walk 100m up a cycle path which has our house at one end and the school at the other. They're not walking in the dark or alone. They both go with friends, DD's calls for her in the morning and DS leaves when his two friends who also live on the cul-de-sac leave. All the cars park on our road to walk up to the school on the same path.

The same goes for home time. DD is alone in the house for 1.5hrs after school 3 days a week. She's shown she can be responsible and trusted. She sends a text when she's home and I call her and have a chat. All she does is sit and watch telly or play on the computer. She absolutely wanted to be home on her own and the small amount of independence has been great for her. She's not allowed to make anything to eat or answer the door. If she answers the phone she has to say that I can't come to the phone and can I call them back. And not to say she's alone.

In fact my mum went round once to drop something off for me and was calling her through the letterbox. We had to phone and ask her to answer the door as she wouldn't. grin

Twice a week DS walks home instead of going to the ASC. Again with his friends and everyone else from school who uses the path. DH leaves his school at the same time so they arrive minutes apart. DS used to have to wait on the doorstep for DH, but DC proved they could be in the house together without fighting, so now he has to wait inside until DH is home. Then he's allowed out to play in the street.

He's desperate to come home after school as he sees that DD can. But we told him that what happened on Friday shows that he's still not mature enough yet to have that responsibility. I sometimes have to be away for work which causes problems in the morning as DH has to leave before the DC. We discussed whether DS could be left for 20 minutes before they leave for school, but decided we weren't comfortable with that yet, so he goes to a friend's for that 20 minutes instead.

It's not laziness though. It's allowing them little amounts of independence and the opportunity for them to show you how responsible they can be and that you can trust them. Small steps to independence absolutely sums it up.

whensteaready Tue 15-Jan-13 19:39:41

TheskiingGardener I am not being ridiculous and at no point have I discussed what is normal on the continent, and to be honest I am not sure why that is even relevant. I do not wrap my kids in cotton wool, I parent them responsibly. My eleven year old is just starting to walk unsupervised now. 8 is far too young to be walking alone and frankly smacks of laziness.

I hope you get a good response from the ASC OP

whensteaready don't be ridiculous. Quite normal on the continent for kids to walk to and from school from 5 onwards. Suggest you unwrap your children from their cotton wool.

Dinglebert Tue 15-Jan-13 19:27:11

If they don't even know which boy is which, the procedures, correct or not, would be academic anyhow!

I hope this gives them the kick up the backside they need OP. In our school, even if a child isn't going to an after school sports/art club, we need to tell staff in advance.

My understanding is that if a school makes mistakes on safeguarding children, they automatically get a 'satisfactory' grading ... maybe your school do not know this.

thekitchenfairy Tue 15-Jan-13 19:18:03

Hmm, I would definitely want to see a tightening up of procedures after such a breach.

I would check your school website for policy documents, look at safeguarding and the end of day policies.

If the website doesn't have any policies, call in at school office and ask for copies of them, or ring and ask them to be sent home that day in satchel post.

Reading them will clarify schools position and you have something concrete to talk to the head about, i would ask for a meeting with the head and the club leader to ask what measures are being taken to make sure this doesn't happen again and if you don't get a answer to your satisfaction write to the governing body.

Good luck, I have gone through similar with my DS, he slipped through the net and while he was ok i was v upset that school never thought to follow up a no- show at the club that was so out of character for him... it is a gut wrenching moment when you realise they are not where you expected them to be.

whensteaready Tue 15-Jan-13 19:17:24

Yes it is my opinion and it is ridiculous to assume an eight year old is mature enough to walk home alone.

BackforGood Tue 15-Jan-13 19:11:37

Well that's your opinon, whensteaready, based on the maturity of your dc, and the walk they have to/from school.
My dd is 11 now, and was quite safe walking home from her school to our home occasionally when she was 8. It's about small steps towards independence.

whensteaready Tue 15-Jan-13 19:06:11

I can't believe you let an 8 year old child walk home alone two nights a week.
I have an eleven year old and an eight year old and there is no way I would leave them in the house alone for any period of time.
I agree that the after school club are completely at fault here but suggest you sort your own parenting out first.

BackforGood Tue 15-Jan-13 18:39:21

In our school, a lot of the OoSC staff also have other jobs at the school, like part time TA, or dinner supervisor.

I have to disagree with aftermay about it not being the ASC's responsibility if they don't turn up. It absolutely is. It's a situation where the child isn't being brought by the parents, so, if they don't turn up you assume they are still at home, this is a situation where they know they are / should be arriving from school, so if a child doesn't arrive, then it is definitely part of their role to ascertain if they were in school that day or not.
It is normal practice in Junior schools though for children to leave their classrooms and go to wherever it is they should be on their own, it wouldn't make sense for a crocodile of children to be traipsing round to each classroom collecting children who have been kept behind there.
In my dc's school, yes, if children didn't turn up to an after school practice or club, then the adult responsible would make enquiries as to where they were. There was a strongly worded letter about it last term because there had been a bit of a run of it happening, and if it happens more than once now, they are no longer allowed to attend the club, because it wastes everyone's time while the adult is having to check they are safe.

chicaguapa Tue 15-Jan-13 12:54:43

I don't know. I assumed that one of the ASC staff is helping out in the school too, or was maybe waiting outside the office at 3pm ready to go into the hall. DH doesn't ask these kinds of questions. smile

chicaguapa Tue 15-Jan-13 12:52:23

I used to do La Jolie Ronde after school at DC's previous school. If a DC hadn't turned up, I would have phoned the DC's contact there and then, even if the other DC said that that DC hadn't been at school that day, just to double-check. Yes, it's hectic and there's a lot going on, but if you're responsible for them and you think their parents think they're with you, you have to let them know that they're not.

If a parent had turned up to pick up the DC and he wasn't there, I would have been able to say I'd spoken to x and the DC was in such and such place. Thus demonstrating I had a handle on what was going on and was aware of where the DC was meant to be.

If due to a gap in the procedure a parent turned up to pick up a DC and I didn't know where he was, I'd be filled with a mix of 'shit, shit, shit, I've cocked up' and a worry that the DC had come to harm whole he was supposed to have been with me. I'd apologise till my face went blue and would do everything I could to reassure the parents that it was one off and I'd make sure it never happened again.

I know you shouldn't judge situations based on how you'd respond as not behaving the same way doesn't mean you can assume they did or didn't feel a particular way. But that's what I would have done at my club.

marquesas Tue 15-Jan-13 12:50:52

I agree the who said what is a red herring, the procedures or lack of them are what's important.

Just out of interest are the ASC staff also school staff, how would your DS have seen one in the corridor?

chicaguapa Tue 15-Jan-13 12:39:32

Whether or not it was DS who told them he wasn't coming remains unclear!!

DS is adamant he didn't say that and seeing as he didn't write his list to Santa until Christmas eve and left it in his stocking, I'd be surprised if he'd thought ahead to the next day tbh. He doesn't go on Thursday. He goes Mon, Tues and Fri so I really don't think he was thinking about the ASC on Thursday and planned to tell them he wasn't going on Friday and then go home instead. It's just not something he'd be capable of. When we spoke to him about going home on the Friday and not going back when he realised his mistake, he wasn't even aware that they'd need to be told he wasn't going. He's never been involved in passing on messages and just exists in his bubble of going on the right day (or not!).

ASC is adamant DS approached a member of the ASC staff on Thursday in the school corridor and told them he was going to a friend's house on Friday. They say DS is lying about not saying it. We say they mixed DS up another boy. But we're not getting bogged down in that, as all it's done is highlight the need to have reliable notification from the parents so this can't happen. Even if it was DS, he was lying and should have been at the club on Friday. If they'd checked, we would have told them that.

Runoutofideas Tue 15-Jan-13 12:26:14

I am a childminder and I look after 2 x 8 yr olds. If either of them said to me at the end of the day "oh, I'm not coming with you today, I am going to x's house", there is no way I would take them at their word. I would ring the parent immediately and if there was no response the child would come home with me as planned. I don't see that this is any different. And in any case, the child who said they were going elsewhere was a different child, as far as I can tell! I definitely think Ofsted need to know. The procedures are not robust enough.

marquesas Tue 15-Jan-13 12:18:07

I think you've done the right thing so far. It would be interesting to know where the responsibility lies for a child between the end of school and start fof ASC. It's not something I've thought about before, if my child wasn't going to ASC I would tell the leader but I would also expect her to at least check with the school if I hadn't.

In my DCs school the teachers and HT would still mostly be at work and the hall for the ASC is within the school so it would be easy to catch a teacher and check.

I don't think it's acceptable to take the word of a child that they are going elsewhere and I bet Ofsted agree.

chicaguapa Tue 15-Jan-13 12:08:04

Yes I would. This is on the premises but run by an outside organisation. I expect the ASC to have a list of names and once the register has been done, for a member of ASC staff to phone parents to say that a DC hadn't turned up or check with the school office if the DC had been absent that day. Of course it would be frustrating for the parent to then say, oh sorry I forgot to tell you DC wasn't coming today. But then at least everyone knows where the DC is, which presumably it's everyone's no.1 priority.

I expect that to be done during ASC time as part of their responsibilities for the service they're providing and charging for. This is the same as if the school was running it. If they are charging or taking on the responsibility of providing childcare, they should include in that time all aspects of providing that care and ensuring everyone is there. I don't think it's the responsibility of the school to do that unless they're running it themselves. But at the same time I'd not expect them to shrug their shoulders and say, sorry, not our problem, DC finished here at 3pm so you deal with it ASC. (Not saying that's happened btw.) as by the very nature of the industry they're working in, they should care if a DC is missing.

aftermay Tue 15-Jan-13 11:55:33

BTW why doesn't the club collect from classrooms? Especially in winter time when it gets dark so early.

aftermay Tue 15-Jan-13 11:53:21

Mine go to ASC so believe me that I understand the feeling of panic if one didn't turn up there and had been home alone. However, if instead of ASC it had been an after-school club on the premises would you also have expected the teacher to ring around to see what's happened to the children? In whose time? As someone posted above, parents chop and change and don't inform the school. I don't know what the solution is but I so understand your worries on this one.

chicaguapa Tue 15-Jan-13 11:39:37

If DH is held up, DH can call DS's friend's parents next door to say please take DS in as he's going to be late.

DS is given a tiny bit of independence that matches what he's capable of. That doesn't include being at home with DD without an adult, but it does include him being able to get from A-B and a maximum 5 minutes at home. I think this is very different to having him alone for 1.5 hours when we think he's being looked after by the ASC.

DS walks between A to B in a controlled situation where there's someone at B who will be aware that he's not arrived. 2 days a week that's DH at home, 3 days a week that's the ASC.

So I don't have a problem with him going to ASC independently. But I expect them to tell us when he's not turned up. And not to think they've been told by the DS that he's not coming without verifying that with us. I also expect them to give a shit when they find out he was supposed to be with them and they didn't actually know where he'd been for the last hour and a half.

I don't think that's wanting it both ways tbh. confused

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