To allow my son to have a day off school that is unauthorised

(55 Posts)
ReallyTired Wed 24-Apr-13 14:26:16

My son has been suffering from severe anxiety at the age of 11 due to year 6 SATs. He is seeing an NHS pychologist as he is has been threating to commit suicide and having panic attacks. He has had roughly four days off this academic year. I imagine that many adults in his position would have far more time off work. Unlike an adult ds cannot take medication.

The other day he was a naughty boy and pretended to be ill to get out of school. He made a mirculous recovery around lunch time, ie wanted to play with the computer and eat.

He stubbornly refused to get dressed and go to school. He broke down in tears and was shaking like a leaf. I found myself struggling to assess if he was well enough for school or not. I am out of my depth dealing with a child who has not been sleeping at all and having awful mood swings. He is a naughty boy even though he is ill.

School do not accept that my son has severe anxiety. (even though GP and Pychologist have mad the diagnosis.) The school has done absolutely nothing to help him. His absence will go down as unauthorised. No one from senior management will even have a meeting with me.

Am I going to get fined? I really couldn't give a flying f**K about the school's OFSTED at the moment.

KansasCityOctopus Thu 25-Apr-13 12:21:17

He'd need to be off a lot more than 5 days in a whole year to trigger the EWO!

Let him have a 'mental health' day and tell him he doesn't have to sit the SATS if he doesn't want to... he shouldnt be so anxious about them.

Have the school directly said they dont believe that he's suffering Anxiety, or are they just being unhelpful?

smupcakes Thu 25-Apr-13 12:12:23

That's terrible that you're son has become so anxious about school. Just wanted to note though that avoidance tends to be the biggest maintaining factor of anxiety in children, so not going to school may make things worse in the long term

birdofthenorth Thu 25-Apr-13 10:00:40

As Chair of governors at a primary I'm a bit appalled by both the fact that sufficient pressure was put on your son to allow this level of anxiety to arise, and more so that you feel they don't acknowledge his ill health. Are CAHMS involved? I agree you should ask for a multiagency meeting so school are actively engaged in an action plan around his wellbeing.

And in our school, one unauthorised absence would not be cause for further action. A couple generates a polite letter. A pattern or persistent holidays in term time generates an interview with a governor and involvement from EWOs. But I would say your DS was unfit for school that day.

Cherriesarelovely Thu 25-Apr-13 09:28:11

I completely agree with that idea of giving him the control in that way shewhowines. Still cannnot get over the cold attitude of the school. They should be re evaluating their approach in the light of your son's feelings. I certainly would be.

shewhowines Thu 25-Apr-13 09:21:31

I sympathise. Our school says they haven't been pressurising them but they have, because it's all revision, revision, revision.

Reiterate that it's just to measure the school, not him. Tell him you are not bothered if he sits them or not and you'll leave it to him to decide. If he doesn't want to make that decision nearer the time, then you will make it for him and not let him sit them.

So the default position is that he is definitely not sitting them, unless he actually wants to.

auntpetunia Thu 25-Apr-13 09:03:00

Absolutely disgusting behavior from the school, how dare they not believe the GP. Take him out of school today, tell school you are going to home educate and have some fun with him for the next few weeks. He can then just go to High School in September. But you will need to get to the bottom of this stress because it will only get worse in High School.

Nanny0gg Thu 25-Apr-13 08:18:56

As others have said, SATs are supposed to test the teaching, not the pupil.
Do what you can to get medical 'proof' to present to the school. Make an appointment with the CT and the SENCo, because all he will be doing up until SATs is revision, so something needs to be done to alleviate his anxiety. Something also needs to be put in place for his future, as once he gets to Secondary he will be faced with more continuing 'assessment'. ie Tests.
And tell him as far as SATs are concerned, he won't be sitting them.

TigerSwallowTail Thu 25-Apr-13 07:52:33

If they're not involved then contact them and ask the school to put you in touch with the educational psychologist for the school too to discuss the impact his health is having on your son.

TigerSwallowTail Thu 25-Apr-13 07:51:16

Are CAMHS involved? If so then ask them to arrange a meeting between you, your son, camhs, and the head teacher and have CAMHS explain why he needs time off and how the school are going to facilitate that. During the meeting you can ask the school for a date for the IEP meeting too.

Finola1step Wed 24-Apr-13 23:23:49

I don't think it's necessary to HE your son from now until September. Talk to him. Tell him that as his mother, you will decide if he is well enough to sit the tests. Keep him off school for the test week. If a pupil is absent, schools can administer each test up to a week after the published date. So it might be wise to keep him off for SATs week and the following week. The school will then submit your sons levels to the Department for Education using Teacher Assessment only.

These Teacher Assessment levels will then be passed on to secondary school. But secondaries then usually administer their own tests to the Year 7s in the Autumn term. It is these tests that you need to be preparing him for.

TSO Wed 24-Apr-13 22:57:07

Fantastic, sound advice from TeacherWith2Kids.

Cherriesarelovely Wed 24-Apr-13 22:40:11

I feel so sad for your Ds and for you too. The school sound absolutely horrible! I wish he could come to our school. NEVER would bloody SATs be considered more important than a child's health, how awful. Do whatever you think is the best thing for your Ds's health. Please don't give a thought to him having an unauthorised absence....he actually is ill isn't he? Ok, he may have pretended to have a bug but he did so because he really couldn't face school. If I were you and the school really were being this inconsiderate and lacking compassion then I would take him out either to HE or to go to a different school, even if it was just for a term.

Also sorry to hear about all that your Dd is coping with Odyssey but so glad you have found a solution that is helping.

LineRunner Wed 24-Apr-13 22:13:20

Just a thought - is your secondary place secure, or will you need to be in a 'feeder' school?

odyssey Wed 24-Apr-13 21:14:46

I don't ever post on any forum, but your post is what I could have written just over three years ago, other than it was more personal reason for our daughter
If he is already diagnoised with an anxiety disorder, then any one saying that he should be made to do something that will increase the anxiety, and that will just make things a hell of a lot worse for both of you.

It's not about proving that he can do it and that it's not as bad as it seems, unless you have a child with these problems then you have no idea what it is like for them or their family.

My daughter has read your post and her words are that he isn't been naughty in the way he is behaving, and the reason that by lunch time that he is calmer and wanting to eat and play, is that he feels safe and is less stressed. these are the words from a child that has/is going through the same.

If he is becoming more distressed, then see your doctor again, and contact the school to say what you are doing, by keeping him at home.
there are other options about schooling, and there is more support out there aswell. Speak to your support worker from cahms. If he stays in the school then he needs support and a place or some one he can go to, when he can't control the anxiety/panic attacks, if the school isn't willing to help with this, then may be you need to look at the other options.

The day we decided that the best thing for us as a family, was to stop sending our daughter to school, that was three years ago, now she has tutoring with aotas, but will never attend full time school again, is under 24/7 supervision, but life is easier, there are still dark days and she does still OD and self harm but its getting less. She will have gcse's at the end of it all and the chance of having a normal life. She is receiving three different kinds of counciling and is now on medication, but if we had kepted pushing her to school then I really don't think we would still have her now.

Didn't actually mean that to be so long, just I know how hard it is as a parent to have to live with this, and at times its like no one has any idea how hard it can be.

lljkk Wed 24-Apr-13 19:14:10

He's already suffered all year with anxiety triggered by the SATs; now in the final weeks if OP pulls him out he will have suffered for (?months) for nothing. OP should have decided to HE him months ago, not now (if she thought she could HE at all).

And then there are all the fun things they do from 1 June onwards; all the celebrations of their school years. Celebrating the rite of change. Goodbyes to staff & peers. Does he mind missing all that?

I am in the camp of put him thru it to show that SATs aren't that important, they aren't that bad, he can survive.

I think if he wasn't anxious about this he'd find something else to fret about. The solution isn't removing his anxiety trigger when it's such an ordinary thing.

TeddyBare Wed 24-Apr-13 18:55:05

Can you home school for the next few months? If you're in England or Wales you can just tell the school you're doing it - you don't need their permission or to give them warning. If you're in Scotland the rules are different though.

Keep him off, for as long as you think he needs, whenever you think he needs, his attendance will drop, the school will contact the attendance officer. They will meet with you and ask why he's not been attending.
Show them a letter form the GP and psychologist and watch the school roll over when they ask why on earth nothing has been done anything to help him.
Also write to the school govenor who has responsiblity for SEN. Anxiet is counted as a special educational need and the school is not acting despite clear medical evidence, just not good enough.

Mockingcurl Wed 24-Apr-13 18:42:13

When my son was doing his year 6 SATs he got very anxious. I kept him off school for one 'mental health day' a week over the exam period. We went to the cinema/park/ate ice cream, whatever. He had to go to school the rest of the time. I ignored all pressure from the school. No revision done, nothing.
He is now 24, a lawyer, and remembers those days as a life saver.

teacherwith2kids Wed 24-Apr-13 17:35:56

Take him out of school and HE him until the end of the summer term - actually, tbh, you only need to do anything academic at all for the nxt few weeks, because no year 6s in the type of school you describe 9ie SATs focused) will be doing any meaningful work after them anyway [sensible schools carry on as normal until the end of term, without any intense build up OR too much 'all fun' wind-down - thus giving their pupils a flying start to Year 7. But I digress.

DS suffered severe school-induced anxiety in Year 1. became a selective mute. Was seen by Ed Psych, who wanted to refer him on to CAMHS etc etc.

As I knew that it was all school-induced, I took him out to HE him - only for 3 or 4 months in the end, as we moved and he went back into a new school without a care in the world.

take the long view. He needs to be as well as he can be for his new school in September. What will get him there in the best state? If it's home education, then deregister him tomorrow ... and if you do any work at all, make it gently, easy and fun, and speread out over the coming months in a sensible manner. You may not 'cure' him, but you may well reduce his anxiety and make his symptoms more manageable. And enlist the help of his senior school NOW to help him with transition in September.

OkayHazel Wed 24-Apr-13 17:17:46

If the school wont accept anxiety, tell them he's got something else and get the absence authorized for that?

Finola1step Wed 24-Apr-13 16:44:00

of not if!

Finola1step Wed 24-Apr-13 16:43:00

Hi ReallyTired. I senior management in a primary school. I am one if those teachers who prepare Year 6 children for these flipping tests. I do everything I can to make it fun and interesting because we are talking about children.

What your son is going through is terrible. No child should have to go through this. What I am about to say is incredibly unprofessional but... If he was my son, he would be off sick from school the whole week beginning May 13th. I would be at the GPs on the Monday discussing the situation. Other posters can flame away all they like.

Your only priority is your child's health. He has got a major change coming up with the transition to secondary school. I would be focusing upon that. Good luck.

TigerFeet Wed 24-Apr-13 16:33:50

feel for you op. would your gp sign a sick note if he were to have a couple of weeks off? The sats are for the benefit of the school not your ds, they'll have no bearing on his future education or progress. Giving an anxious child that much work over the holidays is way over the top imo. The school sound terrible tbh.

toffeelolly Wed 24-Apr-13 16:11:55

Really feel for you. I would not be worried about what the school think or do, you have to do what is right for your child.

TSO Wed 24-Apr-13 16:03:27

I was just about to say what musicposy has. Take your son out of the wretched school! Make sure you obey the law and write a letter to his head telling him you're taking back responsibility for your child's education and that he will be home schooled forwith and deliver it by hand, getting a signed receipt for it and keeping a copy for yourself just in case the school "lose" it. You can email a copy too, for good measure.

Then relax. Have a read of the home ed forums here, note that you can HS any way you like, you don't have to follow the national curriculum or work to a timetable or to school hours. You don't have to inform the LA of your decision, meet them or fill in any of their dreadful little forms. Although not essential in law to give them a written run down of your plans and philosophies it is recommended that you do (by virtue of precedents in law), but you don't need to do that immediately. By the time that's needed it will be September and your son will be starting secondary school anyway - and your son being homeschooled should have no bearing on his eligibility for a senior school place whatsoever, for good or for bad.

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