Infant School pushing to report me to SS for neglect. Can they do that?

(554 Posts)
pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 18:40:40

My DD age 5.5 has had a poor lateness record since the beginning of Year 1. No excuses really, I only lived a 9 minute walk from school but we were late almost every day for at least 6 months. I had trouble sleeping but not to the point of Insomnia, just kept oversleeping through the alarm clock most times (dreaded snooze button).

She's also had some absence, genuine though, illness and doc's appointments.

Last year I was advised by letter that unless lateness improved the school would be referring us to a welfare officer.
3 months ago we had to move out of the village to a nearby town but no transfers in new town for DD so she still attends old school. Because I have had to rely on buses, we have been late again quite a few times, or other people that I have relied on to drive her in for me have been late traffic etc or there's been other logistical problems, so presumably the record isn't improving.

Today the head teacher called my Mum in for a word (I'm 44...why they need to call my Mummy I don't know), and the gist was as follows:

My children are being neglected because I have insomnia (I don't, I just needed to put some excuse down in the late book. Quite tame compared to other regularly late people's excuses), so they want to involve social services.

I have been seen in the village shop with my children buying chocolate bars. And that's it. I don't know what they mean by this? :/

My daughter has turned up without a cardigan on at least two occasions in 'extreme weather'. This constitutes neglect. But they are quick to complain if she's wearing a different colour cardigan to school because her two logo tops are in the wash.

She often has a chocolate drink in her lunchbox.

This is a very cliquey village, hence glad to have left it behind, but although the late record is admittedly quite dire, is it generally worthy of involving social services for neglect?

The head teacher and I "don't have a dialogue" she told my Mum, hence why she called her in to talk to instead.

I've only spoken to the head once, when I had to inform them about the children's father's DV past so that they do not let him take DD out of school without my permission.

I bristle under authority having come into my Catholic rebellion quite late in life, but I'm generally non-combative.

So I'm wondering what you think of my request, in that I want toask the head to write down all the concerns she has so I have it in writing, and then invite her to my home in order that she can ascertain for herself it is a proper, clean, comfortable and sustaining environment for the children.

I feel a bit Hmmmmm that she has gone 'running to my Mummy' instead of talking to me, the parent, especially considering this late book has been full of the same old, same old pupils including my sister's son, for the last couple of years, but I feel a bit singled out perhaps wrongly, I don't know, because of the whole single mother on benefits stereotype, DV background, and now they want social services to investigate the children for neglect.

The children's father also wants to play this card against me, so I'm just resigned to SS being involved in their lives anyway it's out of my control.

My DD is otherwise happy, bright, doing fine at school and paints happy pictures all the time.

Can an infant school really go down this route when there isn't actually any clear signs of any kind of neglect going on? It seems unfair to tar my DD with this brush and I'm also concerned how this is going to affect her In Year transfer to a school in our new town.

I think this is just a rant, it all seems to be out of my control. The head has a reputation for being an axe-grinder and their Ofsted isn't great for a village school. The conspiracy theorist in me is saying its all about the grades.

Hs anyone been investigated by SS before for neglect? What should I expect? Will it go against me in the forthcoming Vafcass report which their father wants to initiate too as part of his contact/custody case?

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 18:43:02

Cafcass not Vafcass.

Gumby Tue 08-Jan-13 18:43:05

Could your mum help get the children to school on time?

marquesas Tue 08-Jan-13 18:43:54

My goodness, what a saga. To address the key issue I think a school can raise concerns about a child for many reasons and on the info you've given I can see why they might have done so.

I'd be trying to form relationship with the HT asap if I were you.

RandomMess Tue 08-Jan-13 18:45:16

Do the school have a link worker?

littlemiss06 Tue 08-Jan-13 18:46:44

I have to be honest that school have a duty to protect the children in their care and if they are concerned and follow these steps, if you have nothing to hide then there wont be anything to worry about, they might just have a chat with you and if they feel you need any support go from there. If there are court cases going on then it may be that they gather all information from social services first before making any decisions

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 18:49:12

Yes Mum helps where she can, she's quite I'll though and has heart problems, I don't like to rely on her too much, it's not fair on her.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 08-Jan-13 18:49:28

The school can do what they want. If they feel they need to refer then they should do.

SS will investigate which could be as little as coming and having a chat, or more if they feel its needed.

I'm shocked though that the head has gone to your mother. She's no right to do so and surely must have broken so many confidentiality rules its untrue!

I think you need to go and see the head and explain about the buses, etc. make sure your dd always has a coat from now on.

I don't think you can ask the head round to 'prove' you are an adequate parent; if she has concerns, she has to raise them not investigate them. I would take her involving your mum as a sign that she is trying to get you to shape up - a kind of hint that you need to get your act together. If you were seen in the shop during school time, that would be a concern? Tbh being late is pretty poor for your child, every day- she won't get that arriving en masse, settling in to the day bit. Wash one, wear one with the cardigan.

Mynewmoniker Tue 08-Jan-13 18:53:51

I'm going to be honest...as I see it.

Sounds like you've been a lazy mum and you have been caught out. Blaming the snooze button for over sleeping when you could have put the alarm out of reach is only one example.

What example are you giving your daughter? She sounds like she needs support so well done that HT.

LIZS Tue 08-Jan-13 18:54:26

I suspect your dd is under scrutiny due to the dv past and their observation adds weight to a safeguarding issue.

StuffezLaBouche Tue 08-Jan-13 18:55:18

I'm fairly shocked at the tactic of calling your mum tbh! That would piss me off massively.

I know it's not answering your main question, but I just needed to point out that while you don't sound like you think the lateness is that much of a "deal" it can have real effects on your children's education. Every morning for the first 20 minutes we do mental maths. If your child misses this every day, then they are missing out on a whole area of teaching. Therefore you are not giving them the best chance to thrive academically.

wigglywoowoo Tue 08-Jan-13 18:55:32

Have you seen the Educational Welfare officer? I don't think social services would be that interested to be honest.

First of all you need to establish that your Mother was indeed called into school and you and your children discussed by HT with her. I am surprised indeed that what might be confidential information has been shared, unauthorised with a third party (your Mother)

So yes, please speak to HT, in person if poss, to confirm this is indeed the case.

Secondly, yes, chronic lateness/lack of attendance, inappropriate attire, poor nutrition evidenced by lunchbox, your disclosure of insomnia - all together could be read as signs of neglect.

Please do get in contact with HT, ask for their concerns, be prepared to hear things you might not want to.

LIZS Tue 08-Jan-13 18:56:18

Is your mum named as your emergency contact or does pick up/drop off ?

noisytoys Tue 08-Jan-13 18:57:50

It doesn't look good for your DD tbh. I'm sure it's an over reaction but late everyday, not in uniform (so singled out from the rest of the group), in shops whilst well during school time etc. it all adds up sad

OwlLady Tue 08-Jan-13 18:59:10

have they not even referred you to the family liaison officer fgs
how ridiculous and ringing your mother?

have you been to the dr though? i think you need to get this sorted as much as you can and get the gp involved so that family liaison at school can help support you

Charmingbaker Tue 08-Jan-13 19:00:34

It is completely unacceptable for your child to be late on a regular basis. I have taught for many years and children who are regularly late really suffer academically. The start of the day is when the children find out the structure of the day ahead, as

TheMonster Tue 08-Jan-13 19:00:45

I agree with noisy - they do have grounds to be concerned.

Ditto, Mynewmoniker.

If you cant even be bothered to take your child to school on time, or ensure she is wearing the right uniform, or see to it so that she comes to school with a coat in bad weather, I too would wonder what else you cant be arsed with.

In all honesty, it sounds neglectful and lazy to me.

mrz Tue 08-Jan-13 19:01:20

Yes the school can down that route

happynewmind Tue 08-Jan-13 19:03:32

They can and will refer to education welfare officer for lateness, it is serious.

The chocolate bar in shop/chocolate drink sound silly though.

Did she have a coat when she had no cardigan?
Its boiling in dc school she rarely wears her cardigan.

AThingInYourLife Tue 08-Jan-13 19:03:56

I think the head teacher might have broken the law by giving so much personal information about your daughter to a third party.

OwlLady Tue 08-Jan-13 19:04:13

if there were concerns about lateness they should have got the family liaison officer/senco whoever involved to talk to her first

a lot of us don't have perfect lives. i am often late with my youngest because of other commitments (my dd being ill/sev sn mainly)

SandWitch Tue 08-Jan-13 19:04:34

Sorry OP, but I think the school have a point.

By your own admission, you were late almost every day for at least six months when you lived a 9 minute walk away.
For the last three months you have continued to be late (although reasons more understandable) That is almost a year of constant lateness! - lateness should be the exception, rather than the rule.

I think that it can be underestimated just how disruptive it can be for a child to be constantly missing that early interaction with their peers, being prepared for the day ahead, literacy/numeracy (which usually take place first thing in the morning ime.)

There are practical things that you can do to help yourself.
-have an alarm out of reach so you have to get out of bed
-take an earlier bus; if you find yourself regularly waiting at the school gates get off a stop early and walk the last little bit so you are not standing outside the gates in the cold
-Ask your mum, or someone else to give you an alarm call
-Put an alarm on your phone with a ‘five minute warning’ to ensure that you are out of the house on time

If the busses really are that unreliable, and the town is a good distance away from your current school, use this to appeal for a place at a more local school. There are a few posters on the primary board who are experienced with admissions and appeals.

My guess is that your ex will try and use this against you, but I would hope that his history of DV would be held against him.

I am shocked though that the school have called your mum in for a meeting, rather than you, that’s not on.

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