Concerns that only small number of vulnerable children are at school

Only 13pc of vulnerable children in Norfolk who could still be at school are attending. Pic: Dominic

Only 13pc of vulnerable children in Norfolk who could still be at school are attending. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Almost 90pc of Norfolk vulnerable children who could still be at school during the coronavirus pandemic are not in the classroom, concerned council bosses have said.

And Norfolk County Council is carrying out risk assessments to check whether children need to be at nursery, school or college, as part of work to keep children safe during the coronavirus lock-down.

Schools remain open to vulnerable children, including those with a social worker and those with an Education Health and Care Plan. However, only about 13pc of those children were attending school before Easter.

That was more than the national figure of 5pc, but council bosses want that figure to be higher, especially given the potential problems at risk youngsters might face at home for prolonged periods.

The council is working with schools to monitor this attendance and teachers and social workers are calling and visiting parents or carers of those children who they believe should be in school, college or nursery but who have not been attending.

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The council is also continuing to visit children and families at the greatest risk as it usually would.

Some children who have underlying health conditions, or whose families are shielding may be safer at home, while other children may be self-isolating.

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John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “Schools have been doing a brilliant job in identifying their vulnerable pupils and staying in touch with them.

“Our teams are actively working with families to encourage attendance of those children that we know should be in school and who aren’t attending.

“We know that these are difficult times for families and we want to do what we can to help. However, our priority has to be to make sure that children are safe and we won’t hesitate to act if we think a child is in danger.”

The council and Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership has been concerned that the current lockdown could mean fewer people are keeping an eye out for children.

That prompted the See Something, Hear Something, Say Something campaign, calling on the public to look and listen out for children and call the council with concerns on 0344 800 8020.

The council has also launched a new phone line for children and worked with the Healthy Child Programme to extend its texting Chat Health service.

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