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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 11:04 GMT
ID scheme to bolster child safety
School pupils - generic
Every pupil will be given a Scottish Candidate Number
Every pupil at a Scottish state school is to be given an identity number as part of a child protection drive.

The Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) system will be shared between schools and councils and help bolster a child-tracking system.

Deputy Education Minister Robert Brown said the SCN scheme would tighten existing procedures.

The shake-up follows the recent high-profile cases of schoolchildren Danielle Reid and Rory Blackhall.

The Children Missing Education project has successfully traced 114 children since it began operating last August.

The ID number scheme has been used for older pupils in secondary school and will be extended to primary school children by the summer.

Mr Brown said the move would help schools and councils share pupil information more easily.

After the tragedy of Rory Blackhall, parents are really looking to keep their children safe and for schools to keep them safe
Caroline Vaas
Scottish School Board Association

The killing of five-year-old Danielle Reid in Inverness in 2003 highlighted the risk of public services losing track of vulnerable young children when families move around the country.

No-one realised Danielle was missing for two months because her mother Tracy told Crown Primary School, which Danielle attended, that the five-year-old had been taken to live in Manchester.

Mr Brown said: "In today's society, child protection is of the utmost importance, so it's extremely important that key pupil information can be shared quickly and effectively between authorities.

Danielle Reid
Danielle Reid's mother said she had been taken to Manchester

"That's why simple measures such as the SCN are so important. These unique numbers will improve existing procedures, helping to ensure that our children are kept safe and well."

Eleven-year-old Rory, from Livingston, was murdered in August. He was last seen when he was dropped off at school and it was some time before the alarm was raised.

West Lothian Council has announced new child protection measures. The plans, expected to be agreed next week, will see the introduction of playground supervisors and an early-warning text messaging system for parents.

Text warnings

All schools will systematically text or phone parents by 0945 GMT if children are absent without explanation.

If parents fail to reply to the text by 1030 GMT, councils will carry out a risk assessment. Care workers and if necessary the police, may then be brought in.

The council emphasised the scheme could not guarantee the complete safety of children and said it would be essential for parents to call back promptly to prevent false alarms.

Graeme Logan, headteacher of Low Port Primary School in Linlithgow, said no child protection system could guarantee complete safety.

However, he added: "This system will help children to be safer and more secure at school and give parents information if their children don't appear."

Caroline Vaas, of the Scottish School Board Association, said she believed most parents would be in favour of the new safety measures.

"After the tragedy of Rory Blackhall, parents are really looking to keep their children safe and looking for schools to keep them safe," she added.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See why the ID scheme has been introduced



SEE ALSO:
Pupil ID numbers: Your views
23 Feb 06 |  Scotland


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