a resource for parents
I came across this forum in the small hours whilst looking for help and advice on the internet. I was relieved to find my situation is not unique, but saddened to hear all the stories of people trying to cope with this incredibly difficult issue. It's such a hard thing to explain to anyone on the outside of it, so it's a relief to find people here who, unfortunately, understand all too well what life is like for parent and child going through this.
My son has been having problems for the past three years (it all started with migraines after his father left). In the past year and a half he developed depression, anxiety and has had a couple of long-term physical ailments to contend with as well. He started missing school, and has now been absent since early March. He is in year 10 so a crucial time as next year is GCSEs. We've been to the doctors, seen specialists, I got him into private counselling for CBT (he has stopped going as he felt it wasn't helping) and we now have a CAMHS referral coming up. The more school he's missed, the more anxious he's been about going in. Getting him to do any work has been virtually impossible most of the time. He's at a private school and I have had problems getting work sent through on a regular basis. In this the final week of the summer term, I was called to a meeting and given a choice of him repeating the current year or leaving. I have argued that repeating will only demoralize him even further and make the situation worse, not better. He has been talking about getting back to school in Sep and looking forward to playing team sports again. Both options offered by the school will shatter all of that. And it's a bit late in the day to find something else in time & the change at this stage would be too much for him. Has anyone else experienced this approach from a school? Like most people on here, I've felt totally desperate and anxious most of the time & losing an awful lot of sleep. It's hard enough dealing with your child's difficulties from one day to the next without all the pressures from schools to attend, catch-up work & exams to contend with as well. Not to mention the disapproval of others and the assumptions that you are a 'bad' parent! But would be interested to know if anyone else has gone through this at GCSE stage and how things worked out? Thanks.
As you know, you are not alone with an issue like this, and there are probably others at the school who have similar problems.
Private schools thrive on their reputation. It took me years to discover why all school leavers appeared to have done so well (judging by the Speech Day announcements) yet not all the boys who had been in that year were still there at the end. As I reached the senior form, my parents discovered why. Anyone likely not to do well was asked to leave! I only learned this years later.
But not all private schools are like that. My daughter moved to a private school where the care was outstanding and where they understood 'duvet days' and worked to get through them. She is heading south today for a job interview - if her nerves will allow her to board the train. But she got though this trauma we call 'school refusal'.
Kerry, this is not a 'crucial' time. It is just a hurdle that can be overcome, but maybe just not yet. Yes, I know it seems important, but we are not all the same, and schools struggle to cope with differences (but see above!).
The headmaster of that school asked me to write an article. You can see it here: http://schoolrefuser.blogspot.com/2016/
Private schools do not have a duty to provide your son with an education, as do state schools. But it might be worth having a good look at the prospectus to see what they do say.
This sample letter may give some pointers: http://schoolrefuser.blogspot.com/2010/06/letter-to-ewo.html It was kindly provided by a parent who resorted to writing it to get justice for her child. My recollection is she took the local authority to court.
Kerry, whatever happens in the next couple of weeks, make sure you both enjoy your summer. You both need a break and to build up your streangth and his confidence.
Thank you Simon for the kind words of advice & support. I hope things went well for your daughter in her interview & it's good to hear there is light at the end of the tunnel. You are right, of course, in saying this is not a 'crucial' time - it's just that society is built on the premise that our children have to complete certain milestones at certain times in their education and it seems we are all put under enormous pressure to conform to what is expected instead of prioritizing what is right for the individual. The school has agreed to let him go back in September but with conditions attached and if he's not regularly in school for the first few weeks, he'll have to leave. I am trying to stay calm and give him all the help and support he needs for his anxiety and other issues, and ensure he has a relaxing summer, but it's not an easy situation, as you will know.
Well done negotiating the return in September! Now, enjoy your summer!
My daughter was a bundle of nerves when we put her on the flight to London last night for a second interview, but so proud of her being able to do that. Not so long ago, she could not get the bus to the next village.
Everyone has different milestones along their journey Some just seem further apart than others. If we can help our offspring to get to the next one, then that is often good enough.
Sorry to hear of your struggles....know them well!! How have things gone since September? Have the 'conditions' been helpful or are you at a standstill again? Let us know. Remember, you are not alone on this journey.
Hi Linda Sorry it's taken me so long to respond & thank you for asking. Things started off ok in early September but then went downhill again and he has stopped attending. Every day is a battle trying to get him to go in or even to do a bit of work at home, both usually ending in failure. I am just hoping that he will rally enough to try his exams next summer and then get into college & start afresh there. It's such a difficult situation to live with as a single parent and my sympathies go out to everyone who has experienced or is experiencing the same thing with their child because it really does seem as though it will never end, but I know things surely have to change and get better eventually!
Thanks for the update. It sounds pretty tough for you at the moment. Do you think your son knows if there is anything causing the school refusal or does he just have the feeling he can't fo it? My son also wouldn't do the work ar home and the teachers didn't help by not sending work home as they believed it would make him stay home more!
Looking back, if I had my time around again I would try even harder to find someone to help me to try and get my son to face some of his fears in order to break them down. I did do this with some things and I can now see the difference with those and other ones where he has developed an expertise in avoidance. So if you can get your son to try and gain confidence in things that have nothing to do with school and keep him getting out of the house, intereacting with others where possible, it all does help for later. If you can find a psychologist who specialises in Cognitive behaviour therapy, that is also very helpful
Take care and hope you can find small steps for your son and also both accept where things are right now. It is so much harderr as a sole parent (I am one too) so finding good support for yourself or a creative outlet each week is also very important.
take cade and hope to hear from you again soon