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.

loubielou31 Wed 24-Apr-13 14:31:56

How does the school know he wasn't ill? TBH just one unauthorised absence is not going to cause a great deal of trouble for anyone. Education Welfare Officers tend to be more concerned with persistant absences or ones that follow a pattern eg every Monday morning.

somewhereaclockisticking Wed 24-Apr-13 14:32:13

Is there a different school that you could transfer your son to?? If there is one out of your area then the council may put on free transport to get him there and the school may try a different approach to the one you have at yur current school. My friend's DD only goes into school a few hours a week due to certain issues and her school (in the SE) have been really helpful. You have proof from your GP you will not get fined (well I would hope not!). Do you think he'll fel better once SAT's are out of the way? I have 2 friends whose kids are doing SATs this year and the pressure they are under (year 6 kids) is amazing - I have never heard of so much homework before - I think schools are really upping their game on the whole SATs now. You clearly need alot more support than you are getting from this particular school and I would do everything I coudl to try and get your son away from it.

Lucyellensmum95 Wed 24-Apr-13 14:33:10

Oh the poor little sod - keep him home from school. he is ill - fuck ofsted and fuck the SATS refuse to let him sit them - its all a bloody box ticking exercise. Bastards. This really boils my blood.

Lucyellensmum95 Wed 24-Apr-13 14:34:22

Also, you only get fined if you have more than two weeks off - so they can do one!

ReallyTired Wed 24-Apr-13 14:35:33

We did look at another school, but in the end we felt it wasn't worth changing school for one term. The head mistress of the other school was lovely and she pointed out that ds would know nobobdy at her new school and that he might be better off with his friends.

I think that part of the problem is that ds has not had a break. He got given three SATs papers over Easter as well as a revision guide for grammar and maths to work through. He got through about half the work inspite of spending ten hours on it.

Runningblue Wed 24-Apr-13 14:37:52

As a 'grown up' who has suffered with anxiety and depression - and certainly had such issues when a kid - imo you're not mollycoddling or giving your boy a treat by having the day off, he isnt very well.
If the medical professionals believe he has anxiety too, can you ask them to help support you in better explaining this to the school?
This is a bit of a shot in the dark but are children offered cbt? It is very good at developing coping mechanisms to anxiety, lots of self help templates and guides on the internet too...

greenformica Wed 24-Apr-13 14:38:17

Keep him at home for a few days. Also buy him this app/CD/MP3 thing on the net. Worth googling as it's highly rated. Play it before bedtime each night

Exam Support with Andrew Johnson.

Runningblue Wed 24-Apr-13 14:39:29

Nb if they have attitude cant the gp write a doctors note for the school?

Madlizzy Wed 24-Apr-13 14:41:27

He shouldn't need to be stressed by bloody rubbish SATS. Keep him home, most definitely. If the EWO does get involved, then that would be a rather good thing, as it would show that the school is not supporting your lad. Keep him off, let him switch off and rest and ask your GP to write a note to the school.

Madlizzy Wed 24-Apr-13 14:42:35

Oh, and btw, him pretending to feel ill to get out of school wasn't him being naughty, it was him saying that he's really, really struggling and wants you to find a way to help him.

greenformica Wed 24-Apr-13 14:45:40

Intense anxiety is an illness but it's mental and not physical. Email the school explaining what's happening - at least then you are keeping them informed - they have a duty of care. In your email request a meeting to find a way forward and establish some support for your son, be it in the form of a mentor or teacher he likes. At least the ball is in their court and it is all in writing. If the LEA or ESW are ever involved (due to longer absences) then they will be wanting to know what the school is doing to help. Also agree with getting CBT through your surgery or privately.

ReallyTired Wed 24-Apr-13 14:46:38

"This is a bit of a shot in the dark but are children offered cbt? It is very good at developing coping mechanisms to anxiety, lots of self help templates and guides on the internet too..."

He is having CBT on the NHS, he has had three sessions out of six up to date. The school knows as the pychologist is visiting him at school. The school did say that they would set up an IEP, but this has never happened.

greenformica Wed 24-Apr-13 14:46:55

Also you child's mental and physical health is priority above attendance at school.

sparklekitty Wed 24-Apr-13 14:46:57

OMG your poor son. That is absolutely appalling! School sound shit tbh. This is why I HATE sats (I say this as a teacher)

btw they are not compulsory, in your situation I'd be very tempted to tell your DS and the school that he will not be doing them, they can either apply for him to be dis-applied on medical/health grounds or suck it up. Who gives a shit about their ofsted/results when your DS is suffering so much.

InNeedOfBrandy Wed 24-Apr-13 14:49:12

If one of my children were getting this stressed over Sats I would pull them out of it. They don't need to sit them.

ReallyTired Wed 24-Apr-13 14:50:14

"Intense anxiety is an illness but it's mental and not physical."

severe anxiety can have physical symptoms. Ie. pain in the shoulders, tummy ache. It can affect digestion, cause constipation.

When the body is in a state of fear it stops processes like digestion and pumps more blood to the limbs. (As if you were about to run from a large tiger.) Over time anxiety certain can damage physical health.

InSync Wed 24-Apr-13 14:55:49

Do you know why he is so anxious about his SATS? Where is this pressure coming from? Is it the school, as I assume you've told him you don't care how well he does etc?

Lucyellensmum95 Wed 24-Apr-13 15:00:39

Yes - anxiety is a physical disorder, just the same as any other "mental" issue. The brain is an organ just the same as the liver etc, its just less well understood. And anxiety can produce the most horrible physical symptoms it can be terrifying.

I am glad that you are getting him some help RT, but do take a firm stance with the school as someone said before if they send the ed welfare officer round GOOD, let them.

I feel so sorry for our children, they are receiving tick box schooling and its too much pressure i hate it.

you are absolutely doing the right thing.

what kind of school forces children to do SATs for their Ofsted but won't even give them mental support when they need it? they don't believe his diagnoses?
that's just shocking. What do children need to do before they're recognised as having a problem?

I personally would be writing to the Board of Governors (and possibly also the LEA) about it. That's just not inclusive.
sad

CocacolaMum Wed 24-Apr-13 15:01:25

are you sure this is SATs related and he isn't being bullied? My DS was/is bullied by some kids in primary school and started pretending to be ill and then had panic attacks later. I hope you can get sorted (can the GP refer him for counselling?) but it might worth asking the school for an apt with their health and welfare officer (I am presuming all school have them) and making your concerns known formally.

FWIW I would have kept him off too.

SirBoobAlot Wed 24-Apr-13 15:24:16

You did the right thing. Your poor son. I suffer from a PD, and with extreme anxiety and depression because of it. I worked myself up into a horrific state of the SATs, the year six and year two ones.

Sounds like you're dealing with it pro-actively, getting people involved, and not just ignoring it. Honestly? I'd be tempted to consider him not sitting the SATs.

HerrenaHarridan Wed 24-Apr-13 15:29:55

I am probably going to get flamed for this but...

I would tell him that while you think it is important that he still works hard to prepare for his sats he doesn't necessarily need to sit them and that if the time comes and both you and he feel like its too much for him then he won't have to.

This should take the pressure off enough for him to actually learn something.

My mum did something similar with my mock gcses. I have alopecia, my hair was falling out an I was driving myself crazy with worry ( unnecessarily) in the end I chose to sit all bar one of them and passed well.

landofsoapandglory Wed 24-Apr-13 15:31:42

Poor little mite.sad He wasn't being naughty, he was crying out for help.

If he was mine, he wouldn't be doing the SATs,TBH. His health is far more important.

cornydash Wed 24-Apr-13 15:32:26

'School do not accept that my son has severe anxiety'

this is awful

can you call a multi-agency meeting to discuss this issue and invite the psychologist who has diagnosed him?
School are legally required to make reasonable adjustments for your ds - look at the equality act 2010.

imour Wed 24-Apr-13 15:33:05

you are right reallytired anxiety can have physical problems often stomache and breathing , was just going to ask same as someone else about the bullying , these sats really do upset the kids , hope you get some help , had a problem about pe with my son , was told to get a letter from doc proving asthma , like my word wasnt good enough .

Crinkle77 Wed 24-Apr-13 15:34:34

I don't really understand why the school won't accept the diagnosis of the GP or psychologist. How do they know better than the professionals?

LineRunner Wed 24-Apr-13 15:38:45

Herrena I won't flame you for that view.

SATs are meant to be a test of the school and the school's teaching capabilities, not a test of individual children.

OP I moved my DS in his primary school years from an unsupportive school, towards the end of a term as it happens, and I remain very glad that I did. Neither he nor I wanted to spend another day worrying about what was going to happen to him next there.

If I were you I would pro-actively contact the Education Welfare Dept at your Local Authority and ask them for advice and an opinion. As you have medical documentation on your side, they should be helping you, or at least logging that you are a co-operative parent seeking a solution.

I feel sorry for your son (and you) and I can understand you want to give hima break. Good luck. flowers

musicposy Wed 24-Apr-13 15:46:38

Off the wall but could you home educate just until September? Then he wouldn't have to do the damn things and he wouldn't lose his place at secondary. Secondary schools largely ignore sats results anyway and do their own tests. They are a test of the school and certainly not worth having a suicidal child over.

lougle Wed 24-Apr-13 16:00:32

YANBU. A miserable child at school is an awful thing to see. DD2 was absolutely shut down in January this year. She was begging me not to take her to school. I took a risk and moved her (not a crucial year, though) and she is a different child. She skips in and out of school.

Do what you have to do to make him know that your number one interest is his welfare.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

of not if!

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

Fantastic, sound advice from TeacherWith2Kids.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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?

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