a resource for parents
Hello All - I am new to this forum - but already really appreciating the support and reading the very similar stories to our own. I am just wondering, firstly, how many days off school you can have, without the Education Attendance Officer getting heavily involved - my 14 year old daughter has only attended a handful of times the whole Spring term. And also, are most schools happy if you can demonstrate that you are helping at home with her education (not really full home-schooling) or do they need to see her in lessons?
Also, as my daughter has received CBT (but is too worried to use the strategies) we are considering hypnotherapy - any views on this? She has a mental block and refuses to even get in the car to go to school. The more pressure you put on her, the more worried she becomes.
Thank you and good luck to everyone with their school refusers x
Hi Sharry, glad you have found this forum. I'm an Aussie so can't help you with the first part of your question but I'm sure someone will be able to help.
My daughter is now 16 and has been struggling since the age of 7, much worse in high school. We have seen many doctors, psychologists and a specialist psychiatrist when she was younger - but we had not had any real breakthrough until end of last year when we were referred to a lady who is a specialist mental health nurse who uses hypnotherapy as part of her treatment. She began using this for my daughter who also had problems with other types of therapy as she just couldn't focus. After about 4 sessions, she started using CBT, but found a way for my daughter to engage by using drawing - she is a creative child so this helped her. She has changed and grown so much and is now studying part time at school, TAFE and working part time. If you decide to try hypnotherapy just ask a lot of questions of the therapist beforehand, ie if they have treated adolescents with school refusal, what their strategy would be etc. I knew as soon as I met this lady that she would be good for my daughter. My daughter's mental block is getting out of bed - she is now doing this quite well. Good luck xx
Thank you so much for this. I am so pleased that your daughter is now making progress on what has obviously been a very long road for you. We daughter is seeing a hypnotherapist tomorrow - so it will be interesting to see how she gets on. Don't want to get my hopes up, so keeping it quite low key.
Your school will have a formal attendance policy and hopefully it will be available on the school website under a policies section. Schools are judged by the attendance statistics and have to account for any children who are persistent absentees. There will be a sliding scale of actions, starting quite high up at around 95% attendance and with more action being taken the lower attendance gets. But don't get alarmed by this as the school doesn't have to go down the threats of prosecution route if you keep in touch with them and always make sure they know what is going on.
There is existing case law where a local authority that prosecuted the parents of a school refuser had to apologise for this so you should not be put in this position. The attendance officers who dealt with pupils from my son's school never saw us, probably because we had a lot of evidence that he had a medical problem. In his case this was chronic pain syndrome but as it was largely triggered by stress it became more like a school refusal issue.
Schools are responsible for the education of children on the school roll and so they should have some involvement with what is going on. If children are off sick for around 3 weeks (I think it is specified as 15 consecutive school days but cannot remember) the local authority should provide some education at home. This should apply to school refusers too. If the child is in and out of school but not off for 3 weeks they can still get help as they have a problem causing fluctuating attendance. My son accessed on-line learning provided by the local authority and at one point he had a tutor who saw him for a couple of hours a week but it was a bit of a fight to get that.
Hope that helps.
Thank you Leah and sending good luck to you there.
I'd say give the hypnotherapy a go. I do recall someone on here some time back having used some hypnotherapy and found it helpful. If you daughter does have some CBT strategies she might find later she is able to use them - my son is the same. In the middle of feeling the panic set in - he can't do anything - not deep breath or change thoughts etc. I try to work him through this beforehand but he is quite stubborn and says 'I'll be ok' until of course he faces the situation again. So it is a bit of a struggle and a juggling act, isn't it. Trying to find those small steps forward.
Leah's information is excellent regarding what the schools require. This means that all schools end up also being different ,depending on which part of the attendance requirements they follow the most. But providing the extra help at home is not something everyone knows about - worth following up as Sarah on here some time back had a lot of help by her school providing the home tutors - and her son managed to get through and into college.
If your daughter has missed a lot of school she will have gaps in her knowledge - but if you are providing help in keeping her up to date - that is great. Are the teacher's providing you with work? They should, by rights, be providing the material that your daughter has missed. They can send things easily via email or any DropBox type application these days.
You might also need to talk to the school about easing your daughter back into the school. Half days - or a couple of hours and then slowly build up. Or the subjects she can face and add the others later. The school needs to be flexible. if you can get an assessment from CAHMS this might help the school get their act together a bit more in terms of what help they need to provide. They will need to see your daughter in lessons for attendance unless you can put your case to them and have a different time table etc. Home schooling is another option and there is a site in the UK for home schooling - I think it is in the resource section on this website and definitely in previous emails about the topic.
Let us know how you go? Did something trigger it our did it just kind of happen?
All the best
Hi Linda - Thank you for that. The School are being really good and have said my daughter can just go in for the lessons she wants, but really, it's about getting her in the car to go - that is the difficulty. Once, there, she can manage the situation. This was all triggered by her leaving this existing school (won't go into the reason here) and then when she returned a few months later, her so-called group of friends completely ignored her. This really broke her heart and she felt she couldn't trust anyone anymore. She does now have another group of friends but it will take time to build up their trust.
It is difficult to believe how worried she can become, about 20 minutes before we are due to set off the worry sets in and no amount of calm talking will put her back on track.
I also find that many Mums of pupils at her school just think I am being soft. One commented that 'surely your daughter has snapped out of that now!"
I am also very reluctant to get CAMHS involved - we have already seen a psychologist and the School Nurse and now a hypnotherapist. I am concerned about their methods and that this will end up being on my daughter's records and will follow her around for the rest of her life - when she is applying to other schools later on in her life etc.
It is however lovely for it to be the Easter holidays - a welcome respite for us all.