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21 – Missing Children

Children’s safety is maintained as the highest priority at all times, both on and off the premises. Every attempt is made through carrying out the outings procedure and the exit/entrance procedure to ensure the security of the children is maintained at all times. In the unlikely event of a child going missing, our missing child procedure is followed.

21.1 Child going missing on the premises

  • As soon as a child is reported missing, the teacher in charge alerts the Principal.
  • The Principal or School Secretary calls the police and reports the child as missing and then calls the parent. The teacher in charge will carry out a thorough search of the building and grounds.
  • The register is checked to make sure no other child has also gone astray.
  • Doors and gates are checked to see if there has been a breach of security whereby a child could wander out.
  • The teacher talks to other staff to find out when and where the child was last seen and records this.

21.2 Child going missing on an outing

This describes what to do when staff have taken a small group on an outing, leaving the setting leader and/or other staff back in the setting. If the setting leader has accompanied children on the outing, the procedures are adjusted accordingly.

What to do when a child goes missing from a whole setting outing may be a little different, as parents usually attend and are responsible for their own child.

  • As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing, staff on the outing ask children to stand with their designated carer and carry out a headcount to ensure that no other child has gone astray. One staff member searches the immediate vicinity, but does not search beyond that.
  • The Principal is contacted immediately
  • The teacher in charge contacts the police and reports the child as missing.
  • The lead teacher contacts the parent, who makes their way to the setting.
  • Staff take the remaining children back to the setting.
  • In an indoor venue, the staff will contact the venue’s security who will then handle the search and contact the police if the child is not found.
  • A designated staff member may be advised by the police to stay at the venue until they arrive.

21.3 The investigation

  • Staff keep calm and do not let the other children become anxious or worried.
  • The teacher and/or Principal speaks with the parent(s).
  • The school carries out a full investigation, taking written statements from all the staff in the room or who were on the outing.
  • The key person/staff member writes an incident report detailing:
    • The date and time of the report.
    • What staff/children were in the group/outing and the name of the staff designated responsible for the missing child
    • When the child was last seen in the group/outing?
    • What had taken place in the group or outing since the child went missing
    • The time that it is estimated that the child went missing.
  • A conclusion is drawn as to how the breach of security happened.
  • If the incident warrants a police investigation, all staff co-operate fully. In this case, the police will handle all aspects of the investigation, including interviewing staff. Children’s Social Care may be involved if it seems likely that there is a child protection issue to address.