Gransnet forums

News & politics

Mother blames school

(62 Posts)
vampirequeen Mon 29-Jan-18 18:29:45

A sad story. A dad who looked after the children whilst his wife worked away sadly died in bed. The children were alone with his body for several hours.

The mother is now blaming the school for the trauma her children suffered by being left alone with the body because they didn't make more effort to get in touch with her when there was no answer from the home telephone.

I feel sorry for this lady and it's a very sad story but I don't see how the school can be held responsible. They phoned the home number to see why the older child was absent. There was no reply. What were they supposed to do? The father wasn't an ill man...his death was totally unexpected. Why would the school think it was anything other than the child having a day off school for some reason?

glammanana Mon 29-Jan-18 18:38:22

Such a sad story Vampire all I can think of is the poor mum is in such a state of shock she is trying to blame someone and the school is the her first resort really,for all the school knew the father could have taken the child for an appointment or similar.
I hope she can come to terms with what has happened and gets all the help she can at such a sad time.

Bathsheba Mon 29-Jan-18 18:39:17

I think when a mother sees her children in pain - physically or emotionally - it's an automatic reaction to find the cause and blame someone.
To be fair, I've just been watching a news report where she's been talking about this, and it doesn't seem that she is blaming the school. Rather, she is suggesting that there should be better policies in place in schools, i.e. two contact numbers, not one, and home visits if they get no reply from either number.
It was a terrible tragedy and those poor little girls have not only the tragedy of losing their father, but the trauma of having spent the night, all day, and the evening in bed with his body, too scared to go downstairs by themselves. My heart breaks for them and their mother.

annsixty Mon 29-Jan-18 18:39:28

I think what the mother is asking is that there is more than one contact number held by the school.
I have been either second or third contact number for some of my GC.
If no contact is made with no 1 then no 2 can be contacted.
I think it is a reasonable thing to ask.
The second case quoted on the news where a single mother , an epileptic, died and her child who had learning difficulties was found dead with her 2 weeks later.
Surely the school had a duty of care to the child to find out why
he wasn't at school.

Ilovecheese Mon 29-Jan-18 18:50:13

What's happened to Education Welfare (formally Truant) Officers? Don't we have them any more?

Jalima1108 Mon 29-Jan-18 19:42:44

I don't think they would go to the house after one day's absence anyway.
Having three contact numbers is sensible and should be the norm.

The mother is obviously distressed and is trying to blame someone but I don't think that the school is to blame, just that perhaps they need to tighten up their procedures.
Did the mother not phone home regularly? Were the poor little girls with their father's body for two evenings?so presumably mother had not phoned home in that time.

Eloethan Mon 29-Jan-18 19:51:14

I saw her interviewed and I don't think she was holding the school responsible. She was trying to make a suggestion that more than more then one person be contacted if a child doesn't arrive at school. Another interviewee went further and said that if nobody can be contacted it should be routine that a proper investigation is carried out until it is established that the child/children are safe.

I think anything that goes some way to prevent such a horrible thing happening again is good.

TerriBull Mon 29-Jan-18 19:51:38

I heard a snippet of this story, on the news, but clearly not all I didn't know the mother had blamed the school. I was just struck by the sadness of the family's situation. Very distressing for them all, I don't think the school can be blamed though.

jura2 Mon 29-Jan-18 19:51:59

Teach your kids to dial 999- any kid of school age can do that (unless serious special needs) - and teach them to press the number pre registered on your phone for a relative, friend, neighbour ...

MawBroon Mon 29-Jan-18 20:43:13

Tragic situation. Would just add that when paw was working away we rang each other every day and the absence of a reply might have sounded an alarm.

NanaNancy Mon 29-Jan-18 20:51:59

While children should be taught to use the phone, we are very quickly moving towards a world where there will be no "land" or home phones as every adult has a cell, and more and more of the 30 to 40 yr olds don't see need to pay for a home phone.
This means children need to find the parent phone, know the parent password etc. before even turning it on. And now, many phones only "open" with a finger print or facial recognition, further complicating a possible second user.
So how does a child even phone for help?
Obviously, this IS tragic situation for the surviving children however it has much broader implications than just outlined in this specific instance.

jura2 Mon 29-Jan-18 21:10:34

Well perhaps this case will remind parents of the value of having a home phone, for their kids safety. If ever there was a brilliant argument- here it is.

lemongrove Mon 29-Jan-18 21:17:55

As Eloethan says, not a blame game, but a sensible suggestion where there are schoolchildren and separated parents, two phone calls makes sense.

BlueBelle Mon 29-Jan-18 22:01:26

I didn’t see the news as I was out but just had a quick look at the BBC news on my iPad and I see the children were two girls aged five and three, so what if they weren’t in school surely the mother would ring home to say good morning and good night to the kids When my Dad was left alone and housebound I would ring at least twice a day basically morning and night just to make sure he was safe My daughter gives me a quick text or ring each morning as living on my own she just likes to check I m up and well

The poor mum is obviously in turmoil I hope the little ones get some counselling thankfully they are very young

M0nica Mon 29-Jan-18 22:06:44

DH travelled a lot when DC were small, before mobile phones, he often went places where any phone call was impossible. By the time DS was 3, I had trained him to know that if mummy was asleep and wouldn't wake up he was to ring 999 and tell the operator the problem and give them his name and address. We use to rehearse the procedure regularly. He also knew how to open the front door (he was a very reliable child). Thankfully nothing ever happened so he never had to put the process into action.

maryeliza54 Mon 29-Jan-18 22:20:46

This is a sad story but hardly common is it? This happened in 2016. Apparently she rang in the morning and got no answer herself - you might ask why she didn’t follow this up herself. I think emergency numbers that schools hold are really for if a child is taken ill at school. You can’t reasonably expect schools to be tracking where children are if not at school can you on just one day? The school probably only rang in the first place because of some system of recording unauthorised absences and having to tick a box that they’d rung - schools are judged harshly now on the unauthorised absences they record. Sometimes sad things just happen and nothing can prevent it - sometimes no one is to blame and there are no lessons to be learned.

BlueBelle Mon 29-Jan-18 22:21:00

This happened in 2016 I thought it had just happened
Yes I think all kids should be taught how to get help from very young yours was well taught Monica I think families do need to take responsibility as well as schools

Jalima1108 Mon 29-Jan-18 23:27:52

I've just seen the interview and agree that yes, it was very sad indeed. However, just how much responsibility are schools supposed to take ?
I agree that having two additional emergency contacts beside the parents is a very good idea - but, as paddyann says that is for the school to use if a child is ill and needs picking up, not to check up on every child who may be absent for a day or two.

The mother said that she did ring home and eventually rang a neighbour who couldn't get an answer (I think). Is it a good idea to leave a key with a trusted neighbour for emergencies?
The girls were apparently 4 and 2 at the time so quite young but even small children have been known to make 999 calls or to alert a neighbour.

eazybee Tue 30-Jan-18 08:59:03

In a Primary school the register is taken, unauthorised absences are recorded, the school office checks these against answer phone and verbal messages etc; those not accounted for are rung on the contact number given, and a message left to contact the school. Our local primary has four hundred plus children and fourteen classes, so it takes at least an hour every morning to deal with absences, and someone is paid specifically to do this. Then she starts on the school dinners. There is not time to do more. It would help if parents updated their contact numbers, (one mother had six mobile phones, not one operational), didn't switch phones off, and responded when called. Not the schools' fault; they cannot be held responsible for this tragedy.

Shazmo24 Tue 30-Jan-18 09:50:40

At my grandchildren's schook they have 3 numbers they can call - dad, mum and another That way they just would work down the list- parents need to call the school if their child is absent - maybe following all this schools will look at their protocols

Luckygirl Tue 30-Jan-18 09:56:28

I agree that schools cannot cover all bases and really can only do their best.

The other case that was highlighted in the news coverage was a little boy whose single Mum died from a seizure and he too died several days later, presumably from lack of fluids. It was a block of flats and no-one noticed that neither had been seen for several days. Very sad; but I am not sure what could be done to prevent this.

Coconut Tue 30-Jan-18 10:06:07

Heartbreaking story .... but sounds like the Mum is trying to get rid of her own guilt for being away, and putting the blame on the school. There is no blame, it’s just a tragically sad set of circumstances.

Lilyflower Tue 30-Jan-18 10:31:28

This is an age that likes to scapegoat and blame. Political parties, lobby groups, single interest groups and charities like to create victims and perpetrators to divide, create resentment and arouse strong negative emotions as these create an emotional, easily led following of hotheads. The blame culture leaches into private life as this case reveals. The woman is rightly devastated and we can all sympathise with her horrible experience - but she is wrong to blame the school.

General blaming and scapegoating harms everyone. Sometimes there is actually an individual or group which can be directly blamed for a misdemeanour and they should be censured. However, it is illogical and immoral to seek for 'someone to blame' whenever something goes wrong.

Smithy Tue 30-Jan-18 10:37:25

I agree, you can't blame the school. My first thought, when I heard the children had spent so long with their father's body, was that had I been the mother, I'd have rang and rang and then got in touch with someone else if still no reply.

Jalima1108 Tue 30-Jan-18 10:40:13

The impression I got from the interview was that the mother was not blaming the school - she was just suggesting that schools should perhaps keep on record more than one contact number in case of emergencies.
However, it should have been made clear that a child being absent for a day wouldn't be considered an emergency - the emergency would be if the child fell ill at school and someone needed to be contacted, as has been mentioned in posts above.

In the case of the little boy, Luckygirl, that was very sad; apparently the mother was estranged from her own family and the little boy was mute as far as I recall. The school sent someone round on more than one occasion but no-one answered the door.