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Improving Protecting of Children and Young People

Issued: 26 Feb 2007

In a move to ensure the safety and wellbeing of pupils The Highland Council has sent a letter to all parents giving details of its new policy to manage unexplained absences.

The Council has being looking closely at its practices regarding pupil absence to see how, in partnership with parents and carers, protection for children can be improved. From this review a new three day rule for schools has been developed which lays out a clear set of procedures to follow in all unexplained absences.

The Highland Council's Head of Children and Young People Services, Bill Alexander said: "Parents, carers, schools and the Council all have a part to play in maximising attendance and health, safety and well-being. Our new policy gives clear guidance to parents, head teachers and school staff on what action must be taken when a child does not arrive at school as expected. For the new policy to work effectively we are relying on parents to help by working closely with our schools."

In the letter sent to parents they are asked to sign an agreement giving a commitment to inform their child's school of any prearranged absence such as a hospital appointment or other unavoidable event, prior to the absence taking place. They are also be asked to ensure they notify the school of their child's absence by 9.15am on the morning of the first day of absence and to provide written confirmation of the absence as soon as possible.

Forms are also enclosed to ensure parents provide an up-to-date list of emergency contact telephone numbers, including mobile phones which the school can use to contact them on.

The Council's review follows on from the new national child protection guidance from the Scottish Executive called 'Safe and Well', which highlights the requirement of each school to have a clear and robust absence policy to ensure that action is taken if a child does not arrive at school as expected.

Similar Guidance specifically for pre-school and partner centres is currently being developed.

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