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Hornchurch primary school's safeguarding methods questioned after SEN child found 'wandering the streets in the dark' after Halloween party

PUBLISHED: 17:00 06 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:12 08 November 2019

RJ Mitchell Primary School in Hornchurch. Picture: Google Maps

RJ Mitchell Primary School in Hornchurch. Picture: Google Maps

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Parents have blasted a Hornchurch primary school's safeguarding methods after a child with special educational needs was able to walk out of a Halloween party undetected, only to be found wandering the streets by police.

RJ Mitchell Primary School in Tangmere Crescent was hosting a Halloween disco on Thursday, October 31, when the child was able to leave the school grounds unnoticed by staff or parents.

He was found in the nearby Wood Lane by police officers.

Parents were informed of the incident, and were left with serious concerns about the way in which the school protects its pupils.

One, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Recorder: "The school has just received permission to expand to three forms of entry next year, and a number of parents do not believe the current leadership team is competent enough for that to go ahead.

"If they cannot look after the number of children they are already responsible for, how can we expect them to keep more children safe?

"It is really worrying when special needs children can simply walk out of the building and are left wandering around in the dark."

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The Recorder understands that the aforementioned expansion of the school is only a proposal at this stage. and has not yet been confirmed.

When contacted by the Recorder, the Metropolitan Police confirmed officers were called to Wood Lane at around 6.10pm "to reports of a child found unsupervised".

A police spokeswoman added: "He was returned to a nearby school and staff were spoken to by police.

"No crime was found to have been committed."

Havering Council is responsible for the running of the local authority backed primary school, which was rated Good by Ofsted at its last inspection back in November 2016.

A council spokesman told the Recorder: "We are aware of an incident in which a SEND child temporarily went missing from a PTA-led school disco last week.

"After speaking with staff at the school, we are confident that they acted appropriately and effectively once it became apparent that the child was missing, leading to him being found safely within minutes.

"The school has since held meetings with the child's parents, and parents of other SEND children, and have begun a full review of their procedures for care during after-school events to help prevent incidents like this from happening again."

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