school refusers


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School Refusal
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School refusal

My 13 year old son has refused to go to school for over 5 weeks now , have been called in by school and EWO for caution, my son has been suffering from depression and is waiting refusal to cams

Re: School refusal

Shahnaz, I have to head off for a funeral (in the snow) and only have a few minutes, so this has to be brief.

This is a stressful time for you and your son. This is not new to you, but I found it helped when others acknowledged that we were all doing our best for our children in these difficult times.

My quick response at this moment is to stress the importance of keeping records of what is happening in your son's life, and of meetings and consultations that you have. If you can show evidence that your child has been referred to CAHMS, and of any recommendations that come from that, then it is incumbent upon the school to support that process.

Ask the school what they are doing to support your son, and keep a note of that and refer back to it at a later meeting, if necessary. This may be an alternative programme, or the use of on-line learning.

I must go now... Look after yourself as well as your son.

Simon

Re: School refusal

Hi

Sorry to hear you have been given a caution. Some schools I think do that to cover their own backs in terms of attendence. I agree with Simon that keeping records is very important and also writing down how you have tried to get your son to school and how he reacts to going.

If it is a long wait for Cahms, perhaps consider taking your son to a doctor if he is depressed? Are you able to afford a private psychologist?
Try hard not to feel angry with your son, we all do in this situation, but they don't want to be like this and it can be frightening for them. Reassure him that he is ok and you accept him and what is happening. Let him know that you will do all you can to make him feel better.

Try to keep up his self esteem through things unrelated to school and if possible keep him connecting with friends or family so that he does not become socially isolated. This is a mental health issue, make sure the school understand this- it is not a behaviour issue. Don't let them blame you or him. We easily get blamed because many people, sadly including schools, don't understand. Hang in there and remember you are not alone. There are also alternatives, as Simon has mentioned.
Take care and hope some of this helps..
Linda

Re: School refusal

Linda
Hi

Sorry to hear you have been given a caution. Some schools I think do that to cover their own backs in terms of attendence. I agree with Simon that keeping records is very important and also writing down how you have tried to get your son to school and how he reacts to going.

If it is a long wait for Cahms, perhaps consider taking your son to a doctor if he is depressed? Are you able to afford a private psychologist?
Try hard not to feel angry with your son, we all do in this situation, but they don\'t want to be like this and it can be frightening for them. Reassure him that he is ok and you accept him and what is happening. Let him know that you will do all you can to make him feel better.

Try to keep up his self esteem through things unrelated to school and if possible keep him connecting with friends or family so that he does not become socially isolated. This is a mental health issue, make sure the school understand this- it is not a behaviour issue. Don\'t let them blame you or him. We easily get blamed because many people, sadly including schools, don\'t understand. Hang in there and remember you are not alone. There are also alternatives, as Simon has mentioned.
Take care and hope some of this helps..
Linda
How are schools allowed to prosecute when your child is unwell

Re: School refusal

Hi Shanaz

Has the school given reasons why they are prosecuting or giving a caution?
They are obviously not treating it as a mental health issue. Gather as much as you can on school refusal and perhaps a letter from the doctor and give to school and remind them that any such cases if they ever made it to court were thrown out and the school blamed for not treating it as a health issue.
Linda

Re: School refusal

Thank you for your reply

I’ve been told by the school that the ewo has reported back to them that because my son has access to a mobile phone and a computer that is the reason why he is not attending school

Re: School refusal

Doesn't every kid have a mobile phone and computer at home!? What a silly claim from the ewo.
Many of us in the forum have been told things like 'remove technology' and then they'll go to school because they will get bored at home. But this won't happen as our children are not being naughty and just want to stay home, they actually can't get to school because their anxiety overwhelms them. Keep pushing the point about mental health.
The other side of removing technology for our children is that they then become isolated. Better that they keep communicating with friends than cut themselves off completely.
KEep finding ways to build your son's self esteem and sense of self. Try not to let the school thing consume you.
Take care,
Linda
PS Has there been any bullying that you know about or did this just happen...as it often does. And do you think there might have been signs when he was younger but attending secondary school has made it worse?

Re: School refusal

Thank you

Yes he was bullied when he started high school in year 7 , ever since than he has anxiety about school

Re: School refusal

Has anyone here ever received a police caution by the ewo/school or been prosecuted for school attendance and what was the outcome please?

Re: School refusal

Hi Shanaz,

There have been a couple on here that were issued a caution but it was not taken further as they managed to present their case and I think in one case had support from cahms in the end.
You haven't even had a diagnosis from cahms yet, have you? Then I don't think the school legally has taken the right steps and so you have a very good case against them. Perhaps put together a letter of reply with as much documentation as you can that includes when your son was registered for a cahms assessment and how long away that might be. Also include the bullying and what was or wasn't done about it at the school end. List any support or lack of support from teachers, coordinators and heads. If possible, get the doctor to add something about how this has impacted on your son's health, leading to being unable to attend.
I'd then send a copy to the ewo, the head of school AND the education department and perhaps even a contact you may have for cahms.
Let them all know where you have sent the documentation.

I know it is hard to be this pro active when you are so stressed yourself, but sadly, we end up having to fight our own battles on many occasions.
If you do this it will stop the school thinking of taking it to thr nxt level.
Have a look in our resource section on this website and you will see an article about how a judge through a case of school refusal out of the court and asked the school to apologise as it was a mentalh health issue. As far as we know, no other case has gone to court because of that particular case. So if I was you, I'd make a copy and include that in your documentation to send to the school etc. It might make them think twice.
If you need any further advice or possible contacts, let me know. Happy to assist and maybe someone else can offer some ideas although as I say, it has been quiet on here lately. Out if interest, that might help your case, do you have any gut feeling that yur son might be on the autism spectrum?
Best of luck,
Linda

Re: School refusal

Education and the law in the UK

Hi again Shanaz,

This information might be very useful for you. The website is:
www.childlawadvice.org.uk
There is a particularly interesting 'Flow chart' of steps to take if your child is being bullied. Scroll down after having clicked on Education, and you should find it. I have summarised some parts here.

If your child is being bullied :

1. Keep a record of all incidents including photographs and speak to the teacher

Has the issue been resolved? If not:

2. Ask the school for the copies of
The school’s Anti-bullying Policy to see the measures the school should take
The school’s Discipline/Behaviour Policy to see what sanctions the bullies should receive
The school’s Complaints Policy to identify how you submit a complaint
Your child’s school records to identify how the school has dealt with the bullying
Speak to the Head Teacher to raise concerns

Has the issue been resolved? If not:

3. Make a formal complaint to the school as per the complaints policy
Has the issue been resolved? if not:

4. Is your child’s school a Maintained school or an Academy?
Maintained school
Make a complaint to the school governors
Has the issue been resolved? If not:
Make a Complaint to the Local Authority


5. Academy school
Make a Complaint to the Academy Trust
Has the issue been resolved? If not:
Make a Complaint to the Education Funding Agency
Has the issue been resolved? If not:
Make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman

If non of the above steps have resulted in a resolution - then

6. Make a complaint to the Secretary of State for Education

Shanaz....there is also information on that site that outlines the education policy on Menntal health being treated as a disability and your son definitely falls into this category.
https://childlawadvice.org.uk/information-pages/mental-health-in-schools/

Here is some of the info from there that might help others too:

CAN MENTAL HEALTH DIFFICULTIES BE CONSIDERED A DISABILITY?
Some children suffering with mental health problems can be considered disabled under the Equality Act 2010. All schools are under an obligation not to discriminate against pupils on the grounds of disability. See our page on Disability discrimination in education for further details.

Under the Act, disability includes a mental impairment. The mental impairment must have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

‘Long term’ means that the symptoms have lasted or are expected to last for 12 months but this need not be consecutive. Transient symptoms may not fall within the Act.

The following are examples of mental health symptoms that can be regarded as a mental impairment under the Act:

anxiety;
low mood;
panic attacks;
phobias;
eating disorders;
bipolar affective disorders;
obsessive compulsive disorders;
personality disorders;
post-traumatic stress disorder;
some self-harming behaviour;
depression;
schizophrenia;
autistic spectrum disorders;
dyslexia and dyspraxia;
learning disabilities.
Examples of what would not count as a mental impairment under the Act include:

some shyness and timidity;
inability to speak in front of an audience as a result of nervousness;
inability to concentrate on a task requiring application over several hours.
If a child or young person falls within the definition of disability above, the school has particular obligations. Schools are under a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to put disabled students on a more equal footing with pupils without disabilities. If an adjustment is reasonable, it should be made – there can be no justification for why it is not made. An adjustment may be considered unreasonable if it is very expensive, and this may be a reason for a school refusing to offer school-based counselling.

The duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ is also anticipatory. This means that schools should give thought, in advance, to what disabled children and young people might require and what adjustments might be needed to prevent disabled students from being disadvantaged.

If you feel that a school has not complied with its duties under the Equality Act 2010, the child’s parents can bring a claim within 6 months of the incident in the First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). See our page on Disability discrimination in education for further details.

Can mental health difficulties be considered as a Special Educational Need?
A child or young person has special educational needs (SEN) if they have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most other children and young people of about the same age. These special needs do include social, emotional or mental health difficulties such as establishing friendships, relating to peers/adults or behaving properly in an early years setting, school or college.

Schools must have a SEN Co-ordinator (SENCO) who is responsible for co-ordinating help for children with SEN. Children and parents can talk over their concerns with the SENCO and work with them. The SENCO takes day-to-day responsibility for the provision made for children with SEN, working closely with staff, parents and carers, and other agencies and should develop a strategy for the child.

If a child has particularly complex requirements for education, health and social care support and cannot benefit from resources, assessments or interventions ordinarily available at the school, they may need an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

The EHCP is a legally binding document that can set out the nature of the child’s needs, additional provision they will need and agreed outcomes about how it will be met. This may include naming a new specialist school to meet their needs. The health section of the document can identify, in depth, the mental health problems the child is experiencing and how they can be supported to alleviate it as much as possible. Parents and the school can identify key individuals for the Local Authority to consult when drafting the document, such as mental health workers and CAMHS specialists.

For more information on SEN including EHCPs, see our page on Special Educational Needs.

Further information
For further information on supporting a student’s mental health in school see the following resources:

Special educational needs and disability: A guide for parents and carers (August 2014)
Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions (September 2014)
Equality Act 2010: Guidance on matters to be taken into account in determining questions relating to the definition of disability
Mental health and behaviour in schools: Departmental advice for school staff (March 2015)
The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) offers confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters. It can help resolve concerns or problems with using the NHS. The nearest PALS office can be found on the NHS Choices website.


Re: School refusal

Thank you Linda for your kind help x