Saturday 06 June 2020

Schools fail to reach 5,200 pupils, school head poll shows


One in five Dutch school heads say they have not been able to get in touch with all of their pupils since schools were closed because of coronavirus.

In total, teachers have failed to reach some 5,200 pupils, the school heads’ association AVS after polling just under 1,000 schools.

‘Schools have been phoning, emailing, sending social media messages, making home visits and writing letters in different languages,’ AVS chairwoman Petra van Haren said. ‘If that does not help, they are drafting in truancy officers – not necessarily to impose fines, but to make contact in the interests of the children.’

Primary school heads earlier reported they were having difficult contacting some pupils.

The AVS is also working together with child abuse charity Beweging tegen Kindermishandeling on a special app which teachers and school heads can use to report suspected cases during the lockdown.

Schools have been closed until the end of the May holidays at least.

Earlier this month, a hotline which children can ring if they are worried or victims of physical and sexual abuse reported a sharp rise in calls since the Netherlands brought in tough measures on social distancing and closed schools.

‘Tensions are rising at home and people are being confined together in small spaces,’ Suzanne Pappot of the Kindertelefoon organisation said. ‘Children are no longer going to school or sports clubs and their parents are more at home as well because of coronavirus.’

And at the end of last month, a survey of 1,028 school heads showed that 75% of primary school chiefs are worried about the impact of the closures on vulnerable children without motivated parents to help them.

Some 20% of children are at risk and local authorities are being urged to play a greater role in making sure they are both safe and still learning.

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