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Missing Children Policy and Procedure

Policy statement

IOANID Preschool International Education staff and collaborators hold children’s safety as the highest priority at all times both on and off premises.

Every attempt is made to follow the site security policies to ensure the security of children is maintained at all times.

Members of staff will undertake periodic head counts, especially at the transition points between different areas of the school (in addition to the registration procedures set out in the Attendance policy).

Every attempt is made to ensure that the security of pupils is maintained at all times throughout the school day through the rigorous implementation of the school’s:

Registration procedures (completed at 9.00am and 1.15pm)

·pupil absence monitoring procedures (including ‘first-day absence’ calls)

 · entrance/exit procedures at the beginning and end of the school day

· Off-site Educational Visits Policy

· Child Protection/Safeguarding Policies and Procedures.


If at any time during the school day a child is noticed as missing the following procedure will take place:

Child going missing on the premises

  • As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing the staff alerts the Head or Deputy of the School
  • The staff will be careful not to create an atmosphere of panic;
  • The staff will ensure that the other children remain safe and adequately supervised;
  • All staff will be extra vigilant to any potentially suspicious behaviour or persons in and around the setting;
  • The Head or Deputy will carry out a thorough search of the building, garden and residential area.
  • The Head or Deputy will nominate as many members of staff as possible to further search the area surrounding the premises beyond the school gates;
  • The register is checked to make sure no other child has gone astray;
  • Doors and gates are checked to see if there has been a breach of security whereby a child could wander out.
  • If after 10 minutes of thorough searching the child is still missing, the Head of School or the Office Manager will inform the police and then the child’s parent/carer;
  • While waiting for the police and the parent/carer to arrive, searches for the child will continue. During this period, other members of staff will maintain as normal a routine as is possible for the rest of the children in the setting;
  • The Head of School will be responsible for meeting the police and the missing child’s parent/carer.
  • The Head of School will co-ordinate any actions instructed by the police, and do all that they can to comfort and reassure the parents/carer;
  • The Head of School talks to the staff to find out when and where the child was last seen and records this;
  • The Head of School contacts the Proprietor and reports the incident. The Proprietor carries out an immediate investigation

Child goes missing on an outing

This describes what to do when staff have taken the children on a school outing.

This would also include a child whose parent(s)/carer(s) are on the outing as helpers.

  • As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing, staff on the outing ask children to stand with their designated person 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 Head of School (if they are not on the outing) is contacted immediately and the incident is reported;
  • The Head of School contacts the police and the reports the child as missing;
  • The Head of School contacts the parents/carers, who makes their way to the setting or venue as agreed by the setting leader. The annexe building is advised as the best place, as by the time the parent arrives, the child may have been returned to the setting;
  • Staff take the remaining children back to IOANID Preschool International Education;
  • In an indoor venue, the staff contact the venue’s security who will handle the search and the contact the police if the child is not found;
  • The Head of School contacts the Proprietor and reports the incident. The proprietor carries out an immediate investigation;
  • The Head of School, or designated staff member may be advised by the police to stay at the venue until they arrive.

The Investigation

  • Staff should keep calm and do not let the children become anxious or worried;
  • The Head of School together with the Proprietor or representative, speak with the parent(s)/carers(s);
  • The Proprietor and management carry out a full investigation taking written statements form all the staff in the room or who were on the outing;
  • The 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 designated member of staff responsible for the missing child;
  • When the child was last seen in the group/outing;
  • The time it is estimated that the child went missing.
  • What has taken place in the group since 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 Services may be involved if it is likely that there is a child protection issue to address;
  • In the event of disciplinary action needing to be taken, the Proprietor and the Head of School will follow it through

Missing Child from Parental Care

At busy times of the day and during family events at school children occasionally go missing from the care of their parents. In order to try to ensure that the child is found quickly and safely the above procedures will still apply.

Arrangements at the end of After School Clubs

Every After School Club will have a register of children attending. Unless permissions have been obtained in writing to the contrary, all pupils will be signed over to their parents at the end of the club by a member of staff.


Managing people

Missing children incidents are very worrying for all concerned. Part of the managing the incident is to try to keep everyone as calm as possible.

The staff will feel worried about the child, especially the key person or the designated carer responsible for the safety of the child for the outing. They may blame themselves and their feelings of anxiety and distress may rise as the length of time the child is missing increases.

Staff may be the understandable target of parental anger and they may be afraid.

Head of School need to ensure that staff under investigation are not only fairly treated but receive support while feeling vulnerable.

The parents/carers will feel angry and fraught. They may want to blame staff and may single out one staff member over others; they may direct their anger at the Head of School.

When dealing with a distraught and angry parent/carer, there should always be two members of staff, one of whom is the Head of School and the other should be the the Deputy Head or the Proprietor.

No matter how understandable the parent’s/carer’s anger may be, aggression or threats against staff are not tolerated and the police should be called.

The other children are also sensitive to what is going on around them. They too may be worried. The remaining staff caring for them need to be focused on their needs and must not discuss the incident in front of them.

In accordance with the severity of the final outcome, staff may need counselling and support. In this case, psychologist and counselors will be called. If a child is not found, or is injured, or worse, this will be a very difficult time.

The Proprietor will use their discretion to decide what action to take.

Staff must not discuss any missing child incident with the press without taking advice.

Once the incident is resolved, the Head of School and Proprietor will review relevant policies and procedures and implement any necessary changes (paying particular note to the relevant provisions of the Site Security and Risk Assessment policies).

All incidents of children going missing from the setting will be recorded on an Incident Record Sheet.

The incident and accident logs are reviewed by the Head and Deputy Head and they regularly and appropriately take action where necessary.

Updated on April 2019 to be reviewed on August 2020.