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Mum's nightmare as Valentine Junior School in Southampton 'loses' eight-year-old pupil
A POLICE search was carried out after a mum arrived to collect her eight-year-old daughter from school – to find she had vanished.
Panic-stricken Krystle Singleton and police officers spent 45 minutes looking for eight-year-old Scarlett before she was found half a mile away – having walked alone to her grandmother’s home in the dark.
It is the latest incident at Valentine Primary School in Southampton to infuriate a group of parents who have handed in a petition demanding action.
Mrs Singleton, 27, remains furious with staff at the school who she says have failed to apologise for letting her daughter go on Monday afternoon.
Recalling what happened, she said: “I went in and said: ‘I’m here for Scarlett’ and they said all the children had already gone. They didn’t have a clue where she was and I couldn’t believe it so I called the police.”
She added: “It turns out Scarlett went out via the back gate. The police and I were looking for her for 45 minutes. When we found her I just collapsed; the police had to drive me home because my legs had turned to jelly. I never want to experience anything like that again in my life.
“This morning I went into the school to complain and no one has even said sorry.”
The incident comes in the wake of a group of angry mums handing a petition to head teacher Diane Hobbs at the Valentine Avenue school.
More than 80 parents have signed the document, stating their unhappiness with the school and the way it is being run. Many others say they have written letters of complaint.
Concerns include children being left on dark pathways following after-school clubs rather than the main entrance. Others said they were unhappy with communication and leadership before and after this month’s merger.
The merger came after Heathfield Junior was found to have serious weaknesses in an Ofsted inspection in January 2013, although the new school retains Valentine’s previous good grade.
Children at Heathfield have had three head teachers in the past year.
Billy Davies left last summer to be temporarily replaced by Fair Isle Junior School head Peter Howard. In November, Diane Hobbs took on the role – initially running both schools before they merged, leaving her in charge of 500 pupils.
There is set to be further change at the Valentine Avenue school this April when she retires.
The school was also the scene of a brawl between a pair of mums in December last year, resulting in police being called and a 30-year-old woman being cautioned.
Patricia Herbert, of Sholing, whose seven-year-old son Ryan is in Year 3, said: “After-school clubs are a major concern. Children are left out by a side hall rather than the main office and with the weather we have had it means they are in the dark with no shelter.”
Rachel Ralph, who commutes from Woolston to bring her seven-year-old daughter Kacey to school, added: “My little girl came to me in tears to tell me she had to change class because her teacher was leaving.
“We have to find this out through our children and they have no idea what is going on with the merger.”
The school sent out a newsletter detailing the merger and head teacher changes in November but parents claim they have heard little since.
Despite repeated attempts by the Daily Echo to put parents' concerns to the school, the head teacher has not responded.
Instead the city council released the following statement without consideration of the specific complaints, and did not respond to further request for comment after Scarlett went missing.
The statement said: “The head teacher is not available for interview.
“Heathfield Junior School closed and Valentine Infant School expanded to form Valentine Primary School in January 2014.
“Diane Hobbs became head teacher of the primary school following on from her leadership of Valentine Infant School which was rated as 'good' by Ofsted. This also gives a smooth transition to the primary school for the staff and pupils.
“Diane Hobbs is due to retire in Easter 2014 meaning that the school has just started the recruitment process to find a new head teacher, something which parents have been kept updated on through regular correspondence.
“In addition to this, the school operates an 'open door' policy for parents through which any parent can arrange to meet with the head teacher, senior management team or any other members of staff to discuss any aspect of their child's education and welfare at the school.”
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