Ipswich girl, 7, escapes school to visit grandmother a mile away
PUBLISHED: 11:53 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:11 17 July 2020
An Ipswich mum has raised safety concerns at a local primary school after her daughter managed to escape during class to visit her grandmother.
Kelsey Watling’s daughter Mkenna, seven, left her classroom at Murrayfield Primary School on Tuesday, July 14, and managed to cross three busy roads to reach her grandmother’s home that afternoon.
Mkenna had told her teacher she was going to the toilet before climbing over the school’s front gate to reach Romney Road, a mile away from the Nacton Road school.
But despite being away from school for 40 minutes, Miss Watling said she did not receive any indication from the school that Mkenna had disappeared – and instead found out when her mother called her to say a crying Mkenna had arrived at her door.
The school has since put boards against its front gate to ensure children will no longer be able to escape.
Miss Watling said: “While I was at work I received a phone call from my mum to say Mkenna was at her door crying and had walked the entire way to hers - which for an adult would take about 25 minutes.
“The biggest thing as a parent is that your child is out there and in danger, anything could have happened and I’m just so thankful she arrived there in one piece.”
Miss Watling added it is lucky her mother was home at the time, as she was preparing to go out in her car within minutes of her granddaughter’s arrival. She also raised concerns that external agencies were not available to speak to and she felt left in the dark about who to contact.
Headteacher Neil Winn, who has overseen a series of improvements at the school to secure its “good” Ofsted rating, said the school are “very sorry” about the incident.
Mr Winn said: “We did review the risk after another pupil tried but failed to climb the gate, but concluded that, because pupils are supervised when outdoors, action was not required. This incident is different in that it took place when the pupil left a classroom during lesson time, having requested to use the toilet.
“We have boarded the gate so that it can no longer be climbed over. When the pupil failed to return from the toilet, we immediately followed our procedures, searching the school twice and ringing the fire bell.
“We had just concluded that the pupil was no longer on school premises when her mother phoned.”
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