After-school safety – protecting children after the bell goes

Richard Moss

Richard is Managing Director of 3fifteen, a unique after-school child management service designed to reduce anxiety, improve parent communications and reduce the risks associated with after-school collection. It strives to improve parent-school communication channels whilst improving child safety in a simple, safe and secure manner.

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A child’s safety at the end of a school day is paramount and is sure to be at the top of every school’s agenda; however, what should be a relatively routine process can often be poorly executed. Failure to adequately protect school children during the challenging end-of-day transition period will concern any parent, and could be deemed unnecessary considering the straightforward solutions available should the school be willing to take the necessary steps.

I believe that all schools should consider four key areas when it comes to guaranteeing the safety of their pupils at the school bell.

The after-school child-to-parent transition should be simple, but is often underestimated by schools, which fail to realise the hidden difficulties. The more detailed and strict the school’s procedures are, the less flexible it becomes. Last-minute changes to a child’s collection plan often result in strict procedures needing to be flexed and, on occasions, ignored. Schools, through better management, should monitor the process to ensure each child is under constant supervision by the correct person, whether that is a school professional, parent or designated carer.

It is crucial to ensure that changes to collection arrangements are verified and that they are backed up with evidence to confirm that the individual collecting the child is trusted. Many schools do not check that the person they are speaking to is who they claim to be. It is easy to pretend to have a different name but physical appearance can not be faked. Being able to have photos and descriptions of authorised collectors is crucial to the safety and security of young children and also safeguards the school as well.

Schools should guarantee that no miscommunication occurs due to lost or disregarded messages by ensuring that all communications with parents are logged in one place. Language barriers can also be an issue, so it is wise for schools to cater for these parents. Embracing the vast array of languages spoken by parents and enabling them to communicate a clear message on something as critical as an after-school collection plan reduces the risk of error and parent isolation.

All communications between parents and schools should remain confidential. With a third of abductions carried out by someone known to the child, it is important that information is protected and only accessible to the responsible parties.

Photo credit: nSeika

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