Schools must have more than one emergency contact number for pupils following tragic death of boy

Chadrack Mbala Mulo.

Chadrack Mbala Mulo. - Credit: Archant

Schools have been told to keep more emergency contact numbers for students following the tragic death of a pupil who died with his mother at home.

Four-year-old Chadrack Mbala Mulo was found with his arms wrapped around the decomposed body of Esther Eketi-Mulo in their Hackney flat on October 18, 2016. He is believed to have died 48 hours earlier, two weeks after his mother died of an epileptic fit.

Morningside Primary School staff tried to contact Esther on October 3 when Chadrack did not attend and paid a home visit two days later, but could not get past the security doors of the block. A week later they tried again, but again could not access the building.

It wasn’t until a cousin of Esther’s called police late on October 17 that officers forced entry into the flat and found the utterly tragic scene.

The school has changed its protocols to hold three contact numbers for each child, send staff to homes when they can’t reach someone by phone and call police immediately if they cannot get in.

Last year senior coroner Mary Hassell urged ministers to take action on the system schools use to deal with unexpected absences to avoid any more similar deaths.

The Department for Education now wants other schools to do the same.

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Guidance from the DfE states: “Where reasonably possible, schools and colleges should hold more than one emergency contact number for each pupil or student.

“This goes beyond the legal minimum and is good practice to give the school or college additional options to make contact with a responsible adult when a child missing education is also identified as a welfare and/or safeguarding concern.”

The revised statutory guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education, will come into effect for schools and colleges in September.

Nadhim Zahawi, minister for children and families, said: “Schools and colleges play an important part in keeping children safe, so it’s right we take the necessary steps to ensure staff have the guidance and support they need to deal with concerns about a child.”