"Mother smells of alcohol" on Friend's DS's school file.

(87 Posts)
PegBasket Wed 28-Mar-12 19:51:32

(I've namechanged for this as I would not want anyone to recognise me or my friend).

I need a little advice on behalf of a friend. Our children are in Reception together in a smallish village school.

My friends DS broke his pelvis in an accident in the playground about 2 months ago. The DS has healed well and is now back at school in the morning only and my friend has to stay with him which is all fine. She works in a local pub and has been able to fit that round her shifts. She has been joining in in class activities, helping out where needs be, but is primarily there to help her DS go to the loo etc. So she is un-paid by the school obviously, not CRB checked and is there purely voluntarily so that her DS doesn't miss too much school afterbeing in hospital for weeks etc.

This morning, as my friend was leaving the school with her DS after the morning there, the Reception teacher pulled her to one side and said she had smelled alcohol on her. My friend protested saying thats can't be true as she is practically tee-total, (which I know 100% to be true). She said it was a child protection issue and as such would have to be reported to the Head. The Head then said to my friend, who was protesting all the while, that this would have to go on her DSs "school file", whatever that is. The Head also said this is not the first time it has been noted that she smelled on alcohol. (She drinks Red Bull a lot and smokes, which might smell a bit alcohol-y?)

My friend is distraught, no amount of telling them she was not a drinker, (for such reasons as she works in a pub till closing time several nights a week (her DH is at home then) and has to drive home from there, but also is on medication for somethng else which prohibits her drinking, but even after all that she is just Not A Drinker). In all ways she is a great mum, who puts her DS absolutely first, and he is sweet, polite, bright, and has impeccable manners.

She told me about this in tears earlier today. I think its completely unnacceptable to have something on her DSs file about his mothers suitability as a parent, suspecting her of being an alcoholic or something when its absolutely not true, especially when she isn't even in the school on any kind of professional capacity other than to look after her son.

I am sure I have dropped off my DS several times, reeking of wine from a night with various other mums from school the night before, all of us laughing about being hungover or whatever. But then I am a drinker and my friend IS NOT! I have never been stopped and told, "excuse me you smell of alcohol and it needs putting on your sons file".

Is there anything she can do to get this removed from her DSs file? Is there anything "sinister" about it being on the file, either for now or the future? What should she do?

Thanks for any advice you may be able to give that I can pass on.

bunyip72 Fri 23-Nov-12 13:05:51

hf.....i have no idea, thats why i'm so gutted and i wasn't driving anyway! I don't need to, the school is a 5 min walk away.....maybe its just my personality...i do come across as scatty probably, so combined with the smell of alcohol.....i dunno....just truly gutted....and now paranoid.....you know, staff gossip etc

hf128219 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:06:36

Buny - why on earth would they have to phone social services if you had been driving? You had one drink.

bunyip72 Fri 23-Nov-12 09:14:51

Thanks.....no i wasn't pissed at all! no wobbles or slurring! if i had been then i would have definatley understood. Also, if i was a drunken mess, im sure that they wouldn't have allowed me to take them. I was just humiliated really, my mothers friend who is a headteacher at another school was shocked by this. I so rarely get to go out, i never go out in the evenings and lunch with a friend was a really pleasant and rare change. sad

TheNebulousBoojum Thu 22-Nov-12 23:17:22

We haven't yet got to the point where parents are breathalysed by schools before being allowed to collect children, so they have no other evidence to offer.
Unless you were visibly pissed?

TheNebulousBoojum Thu 22-Nov-12 23:14:57

You should really start a new thread rather than reviving a zombie, people will respond to the OP instead of answering your question. smile
It is nothing scary or serious, and taking notice of the state of parents collecting children is what schools have always done IME, just that now it comes under the umbrella of safeguarding and is more formal.
Read the whole thread, it has a lot of answers to the questions you are asking. You are also entitled to see copies of any records they are keeping on your children, so you could ask them.

bunyip72 Thu 22-Nov-12 23:07:32

i went to school after a very very rare lunch with a friend. i had a pint and then picked up the children. i was not drunk. however, the next morning, the headmistress said that staff had smelt alcohol on me and wether i had been driving. I said i wasn't and that my lunch date was literally a 5 min walk away. She was obviously embaressed, but said that if i had been driving, she would have had to inform social services....fair enough....i guess....but i wasn't drunk. she said if it happens again, then she has to contact social services.....i understand her duty of care, but is she implying that i have some sort of "record" and/or if i go for lunch with a friend again, that i will get in trouble and she will contact social services? I have never been in trouble, anywhere...i have a current crb check, and i'm in contact with the school regularly regarding my eldest son, who has trouble at school with learning.
Basically, i want to ask.....am i in trouble? are there notes being kept about me without my knowledge? what should i do?
any advice would be sooooo welcome
thanks x

teacherwith2kids Mon 09-Apr-12 19:47:40

As a teacher who works in a school with a lot of children who are vulnerable in various ways, I note all kinds of things on 'concern' forms regularly. They are then passed, in confidence, to the person within school with responsibility for Child protection. The vast majority are, i am absolutely certain, completely baseless - but there is always the chance that the things I and all the adults in school note down will show up to the 'designated person' as a pattern, and that person then has the responsibility to escalate that appropriately.

The thing which I think the school has handled very badly is the direct accusation to the parent that she smelt of alcohol and the 'threat' to the parent that it would be put inb the child's school file. The 'normal' procedure would be for a note to be made and passed in confidence to the 'designated person', and no further action or attention would be paid to it in the extremely likely event that the concern proved to be absolutely baseless (the form would sit in the Child protection documentation, certainly not in the child's school file).

Parent should also be CRB checked to be volunteering in school - it seems as if the school is 'too keen' on one hand, not keen enough on the other and somewhat 'unusual' in how they have chosen to approach the adult concerned...

catsareevil Mon 09-Apr-12 19:41:44

If you go on assuming that everyone is 'innocent' for ever and not documenting concerns then that is not in the best interests of the child.

It isnt as simple as innocent vs guilty. If a parent is turning up at school smelling of alcohol then it might be a case of a very stressed parent and more support being needed, rather than a 'guilty' parent.

Hebiegebies Mon 09-Apr-12 19:41:33

If you are an inocent parent you will clear your name easily

As a child of an alcoholic and no one said anything I have taken years to get over the problems I have as a result of the lack of parenting I had.

No one said anything because of the profession my parent had

SophieNeveau Mon 09-Apr-12 19:37:40

not if it puts strain and stress on an innocent parent!

catsareevil Mon 09-Apr-12 19:36:09

Or wanting to act in the best interests of the child.

SophieNeveau Mon 09-Apr-12 19:30:41

The teacher can be called to account... back watching!

Hebiegebies Mon 09-Apr-12 19:26:44

Ephiny, sadly there are children in this country who have a parent (or more) who are unable to care for them due to an addiction to alcohol or drugs (including prescribed)

It is part of the role of the school to ensure all children are in a home environment where they can thrive. Social services obviously follow up concerns from teachers, health visitors, doctors ec, but they have to be made aware there is a potential problem

If a teacher does not say anything and there is a real problem the child suffers and the teacher will be called to account in the child is harmed, killed, neglected etc

jubilee10 Mon 09-Apr-12 19:10:03

My dsis was told to expect a visit from her health visitor after ds's third appearance in a&e in quick succession. He is her 3rd dc and neither of the others had ever been near a&e. No one ever visited her.

catsareevil Mon 09-Apr-12 14:45:12

As a one off it wouldnt be an issue. If it happens repeatedly then it could be, expecially if there were other concerns.

Ephiny Mon 09-Apr-12 14:31:45

I find it very disturbing actually that the school would think something like this is any of their business. So what if someone 'smells of alcohol' - it's perfectly normal for adults to drink alcohol, including many parents!

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Mon 09-Apr-12 14:19:11

clam its not the amount of visits that always rings alarms.

If you run your DD down to A&E as soon as she is hurt and give a reasonable explaination as to how she got hurt its unlikely to raise any red flags.

Take her in four days later with a shifty story... that would be different.

PosiePaques Mon 09-Apr-12 11:14:39

The LA in my dd's class often wreaks of alcohol, I think this is night before stuff....but DH could drink a bottle of wine and I can't smell it. I've also noticed it on her at the end of the day!

As for your friend, if she's not drinking then she should write and complain. I wouldn't think directly talking to a parent about drinking was what they're supposed to be doing.

clam Mon 09-Apr-12 11:10:28

My dd is a bit clumsy accident-prone and, during our most recent visit to A&E for a suspected broken finger, I was joking with the nurse about whether she'd soon qualify for her own named chair/coffee mug in the staffroom and how she must surely be a candidate for the "at risk" register. The nurse laughed and said "Oh no, she'd have to be down here a lot more frequently than this for that." She then listed the dates off her screen as to the other visits.
I was a bit surprised actually - I wonder what the actual threshold is for A&E visits is, in order for alarm bells to ring.

Thumbbunny Mon 09-Apr-12 01:41:00

edam - if you'd had a heavy night the night before, you might still smell of alcohol the next morning, and in fact might still be over the limit, so not quite as awful as you think. smile

edam Sun 08-Apr-12 23:31:40

The hand gel thing is interesting. My driving instructor once announced 'I'm sorry to ask you this, but have you been drinking?' at the start of a lesson. I couldn't imagine where he'd got the idea - it was 9.30am, fgs, you'd have to have a real problem to smell of booze that early.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Sun 08-Apr-12 23:24:44

When I first started working in AE (non clinical role) the medics would write all kinds of stuff.
I believe the rules on what you could write began to change at some point, possibly when it became easier for patients to request to see their notes?

I remember them writing things like 'fashionably dressed black woman' etc.
The older docs would write some really hmm stuff.

With children they tend to be pretty thorough in case their notes need to be used later for CP or court purposes. There are also an awful lot of requests for reports for compensation purposes.

Its been a long time since I worked in A&E and I would be interested to know how they do it now. Do they still used insulting acronyms like PFO (pissed fell over) and AMCM (anxious middle class mother ) I wonder?

I keep notes in my job and am v. careful about what I write. I always put stuff like 'xxxx appeared happy' and 'mother reported that....'

On reading it might seem that I am suggesting I am doubting xxxx was happy or that I didnt believe what mother said - its not that, I just cant say I 'know' something if I dont IYSWIM.

nickseasterchick Sun 08-Apr-12 22:39:50

mrsdevere ....years ago ds1 and I fell off a bus and later the next day ds needed treatment at A&e,when the solicitor asked for a copy of his hospital notes I was stunned to see that a statement to the effect of 'nickschick and her son presented themselves at A&E at approximately 9pm,son was clean wearing pyjamas and warm dressing gown,the accident we treated was in my opinion from the incident nickschick described,she askied for confirmation of my decision not to stitch the wound from the registrar and I had no reason to raise to concern about the injury'- they also noted I was clean and smatly dressed ? did not appear to have been drinking,that I spoke on the telephone to dh whilst waiting,bought ds a hot drink and left by taxi.

amazing really that they had to write a declaration like that,do they do it for every accident?

howcomes Sun 08-Apr-12 17:35:52

If she uses those anti bacterial hand gel sanitisers then they are probably the cause of the alcohol smell. I thought one of my colleagues smelled of alcohol once and it was just that she'd used the gel minutes before I came into her office. A friend also asked me if I'd been drinking - I was 8 months pregnant and definitely hadn't been, but I did use the hand gel a lot when out and about. I could imagine someone in a school environment using them a lot too.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Sun 08-Apr-12 16:44:17

They said 'mother smelt of alcohol', they didnt report 'mother was drunk' or even 'mother had been drinking'

It is something that used to happen when i worked in A&E. If a child was bought in and their parents smelt of alcohol it would be noted as a matter of course.

If the parents were pissed it would be stated in a different way. Lots of times in the Summer small children would be bought in with stings and cuts etc and the parents may have been at the pub having a pint. It didnt mean the doctors thought they were all off their nuts.

If your friend thinks this is really unfair that she has to address it. Bear in mind that she may be a bit immune to the smell of drink if she works in a pub and if she is a heavy smoker her sense of smell may not be brilliant either.

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