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Children: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 20th May 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that communication protocols for regular contact between vulnerable children and their schools during the covid-19 outbreak are monitored.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) designated safeguarding leads, (b) headteachers, (c) SENCO’s and (d) pastoral leads maintain regular telephone communication directly with vulnerable children rather than teachers.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance on safeguarding in schools and protecting vulnerable children is set out below:

Being at school can be an important lifeline for children who need or have needed a social worker, which is why schools have remained open to them throughout the period of partial closures. Where these children are not attending school, the school should notify the child’s social worker. They should then work together with the local authority/social worker to follow up the reasons for absence, strongly encourage attendance where the social worker agrees this is appropriate, and consider how to keep in touch with the child, including through the provision of remote education, particularly where the social worker agrees that attendance would not be appropriate.

Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) is statutory safeguarding guidance that schools should continue to have regard to as per their legislative duty. To help schools do this we have published safeguarding guidance.

This guidance supports governing bodies, proprietors, senior leadership teams and designated safeguarding leads (DSLs) so they can continue to have appropriate regard to KCSIE and keep their children safe. It suggests where schools might consider safeguarding policy and process differently when compared to business as usual. The guidance is clear that revised child protection policies should, amongst other things, reflect the arrangements in place to keep children not physically attending the school safe, especially online and how concerns about these children should be progressed. The guidance also reflects the continued importance for school staff to work with and support children’s social workers and have access to a trained DSL or deputy.

Designated safeguarding leads, working with social workers are best placed, on a case by case basis, to put support mechanisms in place for individual vulnerable children not attending school, including who will be best placed (from the school) to keep in regular contact with the child.

The department are providing laptops, tablets and routers, as required, for children with social workers and care leavers to help them keep in touch with the services they need.

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