feeling desperate - need advise!

(9 Posts)
goldcorn Mon 14-Jan-13 10:38:14

I would be grateful for any advise - my 13yo d is refusing school for the last few weeks. She says she was feeling awkward being pulled between two sets of friends. No one was bullying her. I believe what she says although I know she may not be saying everything. WE are waiting for a CAHMS appointment because won't see friends or go out. She won't see the Dr and so they won't give her a note for absence. School have been very good but soon we see a ed welfare o . I would like to talk to them about home ed . I know my daughter will not go back to school at the moment although she and I ,war her to at some point. I thought if I home ed her for a while she may gain her confidence back. I think she may be depressed and wafer if this the real issue which led to her not wanting to go to school. Either way do you feel I should give home ed a go? I know my dc and know she will not go back any time soon. She is not very self motivated but I was hoping maybe to inspire a love of learning. Sorry for the ramble just lost at moment and rather desperate.

I would take things one step at a time. Firstly, I would just decide that for this week your DC is not going to school so there is no pressure on either of you. Don't even mention school, just spend some time doing things together where you can and relax in each others company.

It strikes me from your post that your DC might be struggling with trying to please everyone e.g. two sets of friends so I think it would be a good thing to take the pressure off her about school.

Like you I wonder if there is more going on at school than she is currently saying.

Next week you can look at the situation again and maybe decide that next week she won't go to school either. I just think that you might need to take some of the pressure and worry out of the situation first before you make long term decisions. Just accept that you both need to take a step back and work out what is going on and what the options are.

At some point you may decide that HE is the best option or a change of school might be the right thing. My view is that missing a couple of weeks or even months of formal education aged 13 won't have a long term impact on your DD but putting back in a situation where she isn't coping could have a long term impact.

Also, take care of yourself, this must be a worrying time.

Saracen Mon 14-Jan-13 15:11:55

Hi goldcorn, if you are fairly sure your dd isn't going to go back to school soon then it seems to me that an official change of status could be very helpful, if that is what she wants right now.

I don't have experience of school refusal with my own children, but I have heard that for many young people, simply being allowed not to go to school is not sufficient to relieve their anxiety. The prospect of being made to return to school still looms, together with the feeling that the child somehow "ought" to be at school. Deregistration to be home educated can be a turning point which gives her the breathing space to relax and eventually figure out what she wants to do in the longer term.

Have you mentioned home education to your daughter? What does she think?

The education welfare officer may or may not have any knowledge of home education and it is possible you may get some prejudiced opinions. In his excellent book "Can't Go Won't Go: An Alternative Approach to School Refusal", Mike Fortune-Wood says that there appears to be a widespread myth among education professionals that leaving school to be home educated will cause a withdrawn teen to become even more isolated and unhappy. However, he has been unable to uncover any research whatsoever which indicates this is true. Anecdotal experience suggests just the opposite. So if the EWO is negative, you might ask him or her how many teens they have actually known who have left school for home education, and how things have gone for them. (You will probably get an answer such as "Oh, I don't actually know any, it just stands to reason that..." i.e. "I know nothing and am speculating wildly".)

Here are links to various forums for home education and related issues, including one for school refusal which I have heard is good: http://www.home-education.org.uk/forums.htm Not all parents on that school refusal forum are home educating but I believe it is fairly pro-HE in its outlook. So you might be able to talk to other people who are in a similar situation or have been in the past.

goldcorn Mon 14-Jan-13 16:24:45

Thanks for your replies. She has already been out of school 4weeks. I have talked to her about HE and she is interested but only because she won't go to school. I would probably enjoy it my concern is will she be motivated enough to do much work. Her main interests seem to be phone, tv and computer. I feel very stressed knowing I should be getting her back to school and also knowing she will not go. My main concern is her emotional welfare and if I could get her to start seeing her friends again it would be a start. She has friends that don't go to her school, but she has stopped seeing them too - She has seen a couple over the last two weeks though- which I suppose is a start. She says she is beginning to feel better - I think she was having this problem for a few months as looking back it was becoming more and more difficult to get her to school. Before she had no problems with School. I am thinking HE would be an option but I am scared of making a decision that we regret or goes badly wrong and there is no going back. I know she could go back to school even if I take her off school register but this would be dependant on whether any school would have her. I have a lot to think about - so grateful for your replies.

I think, as a starting point, you should give yourself permission to accept that your DD is not going to school for a bit. Don't worry about getting her back into school at the moment, her wellbeing is much more important.

I am not a HE and so I will leave the direct comments on HE to the experienced HEders. However, even as someone who uses the school system I wouldn't worry about your DD having a break from formal education for a while, its not working for her right now. Even if she does nothing that looks like "education" or "school work" for now, it won't have an impact on her long term options.

No decision is set in stone so you work with your DD to find solutions that fit her needs at the time. If she comes out of school now and later decides to go back then I don't think a school that has space can refuse to take her. If you ask for a school place then I thought the LEA had to find you one.

Saracen Tue 15-Jan-13 01:45:55

I think you are right to put your daughter's emotional well-being first. If she is deeply unhappy, she won't be able to concentrate and anyway, what use would an education be to her? Once she is happy, the education will happen. There are many ways of learning, both in and out of school. For example, my 13yo does no formal academic work at all but is still well-educated. Kids who love TV can learn a great deal from documentaries as well as popular programmes. As for the computer, well, I think it must be the great educational advance of the last century.

Chazs is absolutely right: if there is a vacancy at your daughter's school when she wants to return then they must accept her. If there is no space at any local school then the LA must make arrangements, for example by providing transport for her to go to a more distant school or by directing a local school to take her even though they are already full. The main risk, I think, is if your dd's current school is one she quite likes and it could become full, in which case she'd have to go to a different school. You could ask the school whether there are currently any vacancies in her year group. If so, how many vacancies are there and if not, how many people are on the waiting list? That would give you some idea whether she is likely to get back in later on if she decides she wants that.

If she needs a break from school, now could be a particularly good time to try it, before she is in the midst of GCSE preparations.

FionaJNicholson Tue 15-Jan-13 07:06:17

It would be good to get a sick note which would buy you some time. Do you know how the school is marking the register at the moment?

musicposy Tue 15-Jan-13 18:45:14

It would be worth finding out hoe many places each school in your area has free. If you find some you like with places - even the current school - then you can safely deregister because 4 weeks down the line you can go back. The school are not allowed to refuse.

The fact that DD2's school had only 90 children in a 150 place school gave me huge confidence to take her out. I knew she could return!

goldcorn Wed 16-Jan-13 10:40:49

Thanks again for your replies. I think finding out how many places the schools have is a good idea. I am trying to get her to Dr but at moment She won't go.I know this would give us more time to decide. I don't want to push her too much because I can see an is getting slightly better and I don't want to spoil that with too much pressure.

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