Sir: I write as the parent of a child who attends the school in St Leonards which was so sadly at the centre of the disappearance of the two 10-year- old girls. First thoughts must be with the families who experienced unimaginable anguish, but the school itself also deserves sympathy and support. Instead, the school appears to be the focus of oblique, but nonetheless harmful and hurtful, suggestions that it acted less than properly in the first instance.
Let me say of this school that all its staff are conscientious and efficient and work at full capacity at all times. Since there was no immediate cause for concern about the two girls' absence on the first day, and since not all parents find time to ring school on the first day of absence, why and how should staff have assessed this particular absence as sinister?
In general, if the Government's advice is that schools should notify parents of all unexplained absences on the first day, please can the Government clarify how and with what resources this should be effected? In some schools, parent volunteers do this, but this is by definition inconsistent from school to school; in other schools someone is employed part-time specifically for this purpose, but this has implications for schools' budgets and is unlikely to be more than a temporary measure.
It seems to me that the response to this situation yet again demonstrates that schools, teachers and even LEAs are now publicly and almost exclusively defined in the language of failure and are found to be at fault in every instance. Who would wittingly risk a lifetime of such treatment and what shall we all do when, as a result, no one wants to be a teacher?
St Leonards on Sea, East SussexReuse content