Schools in England step up efforts to help pupils at risk

Schools in England are facing increasing pressure to do their utmost in reaching out to the students who are ill-protected at home as the coronavirus lockdown continues to disrupt the lives of thousands of children across the country.

As the coronavirus outbreak ravaged through England, forcing the government to enforce lockdowns throughout the country, the Department of Education was confronted with another challenge – how to safeguard the widely unprotected class of the society against the evils of being stuck at home whole day, with no access to the outside world.

It was reported that less than 10% of these vulnerable kids are actually turning up at emergency schools, which, despite being kept open during this health crisis, remain mostly vacant. 

Schools in England to redouble the efforts

Thus, following the warnings that suggest more pupils are in jeopardy amid lockdowns and health risks, council officials are urging the schools in England to pull out all stops in tracking these easy targets of child abuse and lending them a helping hand as worried citizens continue to bombard social services with distress calls.

It is observed that schools in England have failed to keep a close eye on their own children. According to Ofsted, the regulatory body for education in England warns of a potential blindspot that essentially arises with the schools and daycare centers unable to caution social services about mistreatment and abuse.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, released an alarming report on Saturday that focuses on the lives of thousands of defenseless kids who are away from schools and at a higher risk of neglect and abuse than ever. 

Lockdown and its repercussions

According to her, these unprecedented times have left them exposed to a myriad of societal problems, including drug abuse, child neglect, and depression. The lockdowns are only making it worse as they now have no way to reach out to people who could rescue them from these issues.

In situations like these, bringing them to school and keeping them away from this bundle of risks is extremely crucial, Longfield asserts. Fortunately, as per her, some schools in England would spare no effort to come to the rescue.

Some schools in England have proactively contacted the parents or the guardians of these vulnerable kids post lockdown and ensured that no red flags go unnoticed. They have managed to address some severely psychological and fundamental issues to make sure that what goes on behind the closed doors comes out in the open, she explains.

Child protection referrals plummet

That said, local authorities raised concerns over the worrying decline in the number of child protection referrals being made after the enforcement of social distancing protocols in England. It implies that with more risk-prone children being confined at home, more chances of them not being able to seek help from child care professionals.

It also means that children with special needs are unable to get help and counseling as lockdown measures continue to disrupt lives, putting families of children with additional requirements under more pressure.

Identifying vulnerability is the need of the hour

Meanwhile, Ofsted inspectors who are being deployed by a large number of councils across Europe are offering additional support in accurately mapping these children. Charlotte Ramsden, who is a member of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said that in addition to tracking the less-protected class of children, they are also working on meeting the needs of those children who are otherwise not classified as vulnerable.

Social workers are placing more emphasis on meeting children in person, keeping close contact with them, and strengthening relationships, while raising awareness surrounding the dangers behind closed doors, Ramsden added.

The key takeaway is that although Longfield outlines the efforts put in by some of the schools in England, and the government lending a helping hand by keeping some schools functional for the jeopardized students, the fact remains that these kids are just not showing up. It is essential to shed light on these cases and help the young lives in need.