school refusers

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Threats from School re Attendance Officers

Hi to everyone

Hopefully you can advise me as we have found ourselves in 'the same boat' so to speak. Took my son out of mainstream education for one year September 2012 to September 2013. We home educated because basically he was showing signs of School phobia and there had been several moves of house that just could not be avoided. Son requested to return to School for term starting September 2013 but was very wobbly at start (which wasn't helped my misinformation by the School regarding uniform etc, things that kids are sensitive about especially teens!). He settled down after about roughly a week of days off and I went to School to spill out our personal problems domestically speaking and to address their mistakes. The School seemed to be supportive (on the face of it). Son gets loads of sick bugs which GPs cannot seem to stop. So his attendance according to Ofsted guidelines is not hitting the mark. He did have notable absence through sickness and then he started refusing to attend School. Which I rang them and was honest about. Big mistake. So now I am on my second warning letter from the School threatening us with Attendance Officers and probably legal action. I do not believe he is a truant. Sooo many mornings I felt awful for him because I see him shaking etc. even when he forces himself to attend. Does anyone know whether in the UK there is another alternative type of education apart from School or Home Education? I myself was diagnosed with PTSD and know panic attacks when I see them and am really worried for him. My GPs seem to undermine accordingly.

Re: Threats from School re Attendance Officers

Hi Isobel and welcome
sorry to read what you're going through.
while a school can seem supportive initially, it seems that most schools are so concerned with their attendance figures, they fail to see the students behind them.

i don't live in GB so don't have any knowledge of your education system, but there are others on here who will help.
SR is so difficult to deal with and it hard on every member of a family so try to take some time to get your strength back as you will need all you energies to help your son.

take care.


Re: Threats from School re Attendance Officers

Hi Isobel

Glad you found the forum - lots of help and support on here. It can be a lonely and frustrating journey.
There have been others on here who have been threatened with letters and so forth but it has not been taken as far as court - although pretty close. This doesn't meant it doesn't happen - but the school and education authorities can be put on the spot and withdraw their pressure when you are able to put the pressure back. Basically they owe your son an education no matter what his condition. This means you really need to get him diagnosed by CAMHS. There is usually a waiting list - so best to get on there as soon as possible . The school should have referred you to camhs before sending you letters. So they have not followed the correct process in the UK and this can be pointed out to them.
Try ringing Parent Partnership - and ask advice. They deal with lots of parents and kids who have undiagnosed or diagnosed conditions and have trouble fitting into 'normal' school situations.‎

There was also a famous case in the UK where the judge through the whole thing out of court and asked the school to apologise to the parents and student. This was a typical SR case. I think the article about this is in the resource section on this website. You could contact your local MP if you felt they might be happy to follow the case up. Look up the education authority in the UK and see what it says about their duty.

I am also not from the UK but I oversee the site these days as I have been on here now since it started and basically know the UK system better thank my own (Australia) : )

IN regard to other types of schooling - someone else on here might be able to share something about this with you. THere have been a couple of people on here asking about on-line learning and one or two have gone down that road. If you do a search under 'on-line schooling' you might come up with those posts - otherwise it would have been mentioned either earlier this year or last year.
Take care -as Virginia says - it is very tiring going through this and you need all the strength you can.
Don't forget to do some nice things for yourself in the middle of all this.
Take care and let us know how things go.

Re: Threats from School re Attendance Officers

As always, Linda has some sound advice. I would just like to add that my recommendation is always that you keep a diary of all happenings - school refusal days, sick days, meetings and phone calls.

Record details of all meetings and telephone conversations. If you do, and I don't like saying this, end up in court, it is good if you have your evidence available and usable. It also helps when you talk to different people, as you can demonstrate what has happened when.

At meetings, ask if there will be minutes, and ensure you are included in the distribution list. If you disagree with the contents - challenge. If there are no notes, make them yourself and copy them to the school, etc, drawing attention to the things that they said that they would do.

Many find it difficult going into school meetings. It brings back memories of being up before the head! But this is different, this is your child and you are responsible for getting your child an education. The school is responsible for providing that education. So be organised and be upbeat, even if you are exhausted by yet another morning battle.

Meanwhile, I have to report that all is not well on the home front this morning. My daughter has not made it to college this morning. I know that she is planning on socializing tonight, so I am holding my anger in place ahead of a miraculous recovery.


Re: Threats from School re Attendance Officers

Hi Isobel,

Schools panic about attendance as it's one of the criteria that OFSTED uses to judge the school and the trigger point was changed a few years ago. Unfortunately this leads to some "knee-jerk" responses such as sending letters out which are probably in standard format, rather threatening in nature and do not fit your family situation (or many others for that matter). Having been through this I found that most standard letters assumed the child was off for no good reason, assumed the parent(s) had not contacted the school, and assumed that there was no verifiable illness and the parent(s) just needed frightening into getting the child in.

In my opinion a good school (not necessarily one given a judgement of "good" by OFSTED) should never send out these standard letters when parents have been keeping in touch and co-operating with the school. Sadly, it seems to happen a lot, probably because sending the letter out means someone can tick a box on the absence procedure and can show the powers that be that they are on the case!

The important bit is not to take it personally and try wherever possible to maintain a good relationship with the school. As others have said sending the letters out does not automatically lead to prosecution proceedings. However, this does not mean trusting them to do the right thing either. So as Simon has rightly said you need to keep a diary of events, records of every meeting and phone call etc. I have found it useful to sometimes send in letters confirming what has been said in a meeting if I think there is a chance this will not appear in the minutes provided by the school. If you can get someone to go to meetings with you that would be great too. Sometimes, as parents, we can feel ground down by the situation we are in and having someone else there can take the pressure off a bit even if they are not saying anything, just acting as a witness/supporter.

Regarding online schools: these are expensive compared to basic home education. My son used one for a year as there was too much going on in the family for me to take on his education myself. Some children cope with the online schooling better than others and I didn't feel it was the right long-term solution for him.

I hope life improves for you and your son.

Re: Threats from School re Attendance Officers

Thanks very much Simon

I note your empathy and find it a relief. Mornings are a nightmare and exhausting. I am keeping a note of dates and meetings phone calls etc.

Re: Threats from School re Attendance Officers

Hello Isobel

With regard to your message about School Attendance Officer etc we are going through similar and I can definitely relate to the mornings being a nightmare and exhausting. It all seems so difficult at the moment (we have a 14 year old daughter who is too anxious to get in the car to go to school and has already missed over 3 months of school) but I am encouraged by the support of other people on this forum and hearing that you can get through this.

We are just hoping that we can limp along to the Summer holidays with a mix of some home tuition and some tutoring from the school. We have a meeting with them in a few weeks time but it is incredibly difficult, especially as most of us haven't been down this road before so we are just trying our best. I am also aware that holidays just bring us respite, not necessarily a solution!

The very best of luck to you all and keep being strong.



Re: Threats from School re Attendance Officers

Hi Isobel

Reading through your post again it's strikes me how unsupportive schools and doctors can be to parents/children going through SR.

I think, based on my own experience, unless someone has dealt with this issue personally, it can be very difficult for people, even professionals to understand the stress and worry involved.

||I used to think that they thought I was enabling my daughter to be absent from school, and that I was too soft. Sometimes felt I just couldn't win with them.[:-|

Take care and stay strong.