Share and save a child's life

31st January 2003 at 00:00
Following Victoria Climbie's death, teachers are being urged to communicate more with social services, reports Michael Shaw.

RECOMMENDATIONS from the inquiry into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie will alter how schools and education authorities help to protect children.

Lord Laming this week published his report on the catalogue of "breathtaking" and "lamentable" mistakes by public-service workers in London who failed to prevent the child being tortured by her carers and dying from mistreatment in February 2000.

Education, unlike health and social services, escaped direct blame in the report, because Victoria was never enrolled in a school during the 10 months she spent in the UK.

However, at least 14 of Lord Laming's 108 recommendations will affect teachers, education ministers or education authority staff.

Lord Laming told The TES: "We want to ensure that every child of school age is known to their education authority. No child should be lost to the system and teachers have a very important role to play in identifying any concerns there may be regarding a child's well-being."

His recommendations include setting up several bodies to support children and families, including a ministerial board, a national agency and local committees. All would contain education representatives.

Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children's Bureau, said he hoped the recommendations would end existing problems of sharing information between schools and social services, which had hampered child protection.

Concerns about Victoria's welfare were first raised by teachers at Jean Moulin primary school in Villepinte, France. Victoria attended the school for a few months after moving to Europe from the Ivory Coast with her father's aunt, Marie-Therese Kouao, in 1998.

Lord laming's recommendations

* The creation of a children and families board, chaired by a minister.

* A new national agency for children and families, headed by a Children's Commissioner for England.

* The Teacher Training Agency should ensure teachers are trained to work effectively and share information with police, social workers and other public services' staff.

* The Government should investigate setting up a national children's database containing information on all under-16s.

* Front-line public-service staff who come into contact with children should ensure that basic information, including the name of the child's school, is recorded for every child they work with.

* The Office for Standards in Education should look at the effectiveness of local authorities' work with agencies supplying services for children and families.

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