Children's commissioner 'concerned' over low attendance at school hubs during Covid-19 lockdown

Scotland's commissioner for children and young people has expressed concern that an average of just 6,000 pupis a day are attending education hubs set up in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, amid fears for vulnerable children in lockdown at home

Bruce Adamson has expressed concern at the low attendance rates at Scotland's education hubs during the pandemic.
Bruce Adamson has expressed concern at the low attendance rates at Scotland's education hubs during the pandemic.

Bruce Adamson said the low attendance figures suggested that “many children and families” may not be being seen or given adequate support during the crisis, and called on the Scottish Government to look at “other ways” of ensuring they were being engaged with.

It comes as the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition warned the attendance levels meant children - including those who could be living in households witnessing domestic abuse or substance misuse - were “invisible at home.”

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Figures obtained by TES Scotland show that last week, a daily average of 6,060 pupils - less than one per cent of the school age population - attended the education hubs, which remain open to care for the children of key workers and those children classed as vulnerable.

However, only 17 per cent of those pupils attending the hubs fell into the vulnerable category, such as pupils who are on the child protection register, or those who are looked after.

The most recent figures show that across the country, there are 2,599 children on the child protection register, with 14,015 looked after children in Scotland.

Mr Adamson stressed that schools were not simply places to learn, but served as a “safe space for children with chaotic home lives.”

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He added: “I’m concerned to see that attendance figures at hubs is so low, as this means that many children and families may not be being seen or supported by schools and other professionals.”

Meanwhile, Mr Adamson has written to supermarket chief executives to urge them to provide guidance and training to staff on the legitimate reasons why parents and carers may have to shop with their children during coronavirus restrictions.

The letter also suggests signage be posted at entrances to shops explaining that some parents and carers may need to shop with their children and that customers abusing them or challenging their right to be there will not be tolerated.

This comes amidst increasing reports to parenting organisations of parents and carers being challenged by staff and other members of the general public where they have had no choice but to shop with their children. Some children shopping on behalf of families have also been challenged when doing so.

Mr Adamson explained: “I’ve heard about young people distressed at being challenged whilst doing their family shop for parents unable to do the shop themselves. It’s important that we remember that families are diverse and that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.”

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