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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.

DeafLeopard Mon 14-Jan-13 19:57:55

shock that is a dreadful response from the ASC. I bet Ofsted wouldn't see it the same way as them.

They should be taking ownership of the problem and apologising, not blaming your DS.

PickledApples Mon 14-Jan-13 22:24:40

Call OFSTED for advice OP. Their response is simply not good enough. All they had to say was "we are looking into what happened and will get back to you" instead they have made it worse! Did DH speak to the head as well then? I would add to your list of concerns that you feel DS will now be singled out instead of procedures being changed.

tribpot Mon 14-Jan-13 22:35:46

So they're really just doing parents a favour, then, by entertaining those kids who show up for a couple of hours after school? How laid back. And free, presumably. Since if they were charging money for this service they would need to actually provide a safe environment for children after school?

BackforGood Mon 14-Jan-13 23:37:54

As I said on Saturday. The way they have handled it has now highlighted that there is a real problem with safeguarding, and this wasn't some terrible 'blip' that somehow highlighted something as a one off problem on that day.
I don't say this readily, but their total lack of willingness to take any responsibility for this would say to me your next step has to be a call to OFSTED to explain you are worried how they are failing in their basic safeguarding of the children. That really, really isn't good enough and they are very lucky that your ds was actually able to walk home and be let into the house, and nothing more serious happened. They need to show they are putting proper measures in place to prevent this sort of thing happening again.

chicaguapa Tue 15-Jan-13 10:44:04

We will give them and the school a chance to respond to the letter, as if they don't this will need to be made clear to Ofsted too. The letter isn't bashing them. It just points out some areas of concern and requests that they are addressed. I don't think that's unreasonable in the circumstances.

Their attitude has been appalling. I just wish we had an alternative to sending him there. sad But of course we'll stop if we think they can't keep him safe.

SoggySummer Tue 15-Jan-13 10:44:42

Good grief. That is an awful response.

Rude at best but worryingly - unconcerned.

They come across as defensive and unhelpful.

I would now be sending a letter to Ofsted off the back of this response. Post the letter, it wont take long to write, just an opening paragraph explaining what happend the response you received to the letter you sent (attach a copy).

Post that off. Then call Ofsted for advice.

The reason behind posting the letter is to doubly make sure a formal record of this is received by Ofsted - phonecalls dont always hold the same weight - can be recalled fully in 3 months time etc.

Its worrying abd bad enough what happend to your son but what if a similar mix up happend with another child, who didnt go straight home.

chicaguapa Tue 15-Jan-13 11:01:51

I know. This is what bothers me. The school has decided that KS2 children are capable of making their own way from the classroom to the hall. Fair enough. But if one of them decides to go and tell the ASC that they're not coming, they can leave the school premises and go somewhere else. Without the parents knowing!!

What if it's a Y5/6 girl who's made friends with someone online who says he's going to meet her after school? Can she just disappear with him while the parents think she's at the ASC? And the school and ASC say 'nothing to do with us. She told us she wasn't coming today'? Then when she turns up buried under a pile of leaves, everyone turns around and says it was the girl's fault for not having gone to the club.

And in this case we're talking about an 8-year old boy. What if he'd gone home and DD wasn't there? And he was too scared to go back to ASC because he thought he'd get into trouble for being late/ having gone home by mistake? I accept that he left the premises, and believe me he's got into trouble for it. But the responsibility doesn't rest with him and there shouldn't be a gap in the procedure to enable it to happen.

littleducks Tue 15-Jan-13 11:12:08

I don't know what to think about this or how it would be best fixed.

DD and DS go to afterschool club, in fact I have sent ds (reception) in with a sticker on saying 'I am going to afterschool club today' on blush as I dont always drop off. They arrange with ASC if they aren't going, which works well for us but then they have to be collected by an adult, it does seem to be a gap if the children walk home alone.

aftermay Tue 15-Jan-13 11:17:40

I can understand you're angry and worried about this. However, if the children are expected to turn up there on their own then the club's responsibility only starts once they're there.

I think you're trying to have it both ways: the child considered responsible enough that he can walk home and be home alone (what if your DD or DH is hold up with something and can't be there?) but the club's or school's responsibility for the few yards and minutes after school.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 12:52:23

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.

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

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.

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 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 19:17:24

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

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.

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.

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