Advice please, school are saying ''unauthorised absense' when they phoned me up to collect my child (school refusal, long story)

(56 Posts)
Marne Mon 11-Feb-13 13:38:56

Dd2 is 6 and has ASD, she's in a MS school and up until 2 weeks ago she was doing great.

Due to a big c8ck up at schoo resaulting in a change of teachers 5 times sinse September my dd2 has been very unsettled due to no routine and lots of changes.

Last week she refused to go to school, she went in for 2 half days but the other days i could not get her in (she kicked me and tore her clothes off), i spoke to the head and she told me 'not to force her and not to worry', of course i have been worrying as i want her at school, when she's at home i can not get anything done as i need to watch her 24/7.

This morning i managed to get her into school but at lunch time i was called to pick her up as she was upset and asking to go home. Now i have been told it will go down as 'unauthorised absense', surely if the school phoned me to collect her then it is 'autherised'?

I'm now worried sick that all the time she has had off over the last 2 weeks, where the head has said 'don't worry, don't make her come in' will go down as 'unauthorised absenses'.

I dont know what they expect me to do, i am trying my best to get her in and when i do get her in she's sent home. I'm pulling my hair out at home with her, she's destroying the house, i have to keep doors locked or she emties tooth paste, sugar, eats the contents of the fridge etc.., i'm tired and struggling to cope with her at home, do they think i want her at home?

Where do i stand with this?

I am hoping she will go in for a full day tomorrow.

Cornycabernet Mon 11-Feb-13 16:16:19

perhaps write a letter confirming that you picked up dd as requested by the school on that date? I agree it shouldn't be unauthorised.

roundabout1 Mon 11-Feb-13 16:30:58

marne - how frustrating for you. Afraid I've got no advice but I do know that when my dd1 was doing half days for a period last year it was put down as unauthorised abscence as the head said there wasn't a different category it could be put in. Due to illness her attendance is an issue so I put it in writing that for 10 days she only did mornings as agreed. Now we have consultants letters backing her reduced attendance she does half days & the other half days is classed as educated off site as she does a bit of work at home. In my personal experience school was very keen to place blame with us for dd's absence even if it was due to problems she was having at school as a result of her illness.

badguider Mon 11-Feb-13 16:34:55

I don't know anything about this but I would think that having some 'unathorised' absence on her record could help you/her get some help and support - if it seems she's just off sick/authorised then her problems will surely be invisible and not attract any support?

mummytime Mon 11-Feb-13 16:58:02

I would make sure there is a written record that you were asked to collect her, and why she wasn't there last week. Does she have a statement? Does she have help in school? A TA?

Marne Mon 11-Feb-13 17:04:01

She has a statement and 30hrs a week TA, TA is who called me to pick her up.

socharlottet Mon 11-Feb-13 17:33:58

Whay are you giving a 6 yo the choice of whether to go to school or not?

Marne Mon 11-Feb-13 17:47:44

hmm 'giving her a choice'?

socharlottet- have you ever been in my position? i do hope you never are. My daughter has severe sensory isues and Autism, i have tried my hardest to get her in as much as i can but when a almost 7 year old kicks, screams and removes her clothes as soon as you put them on her it makes it a little tricky to get her to school, also i take her in screaming she will scream all day and it will only make the next day 10 times worse, i don't expect everyone to understand and a few years ago i would have said the same as you but its not easy. I have sat here crying because i cant get her to go in, i feel trapped as i cant go anywhere when she's home, she has wrecked my house, i have to lock each door behind me so she doesn't break anything, pinch food or hurt herself. The school want her to want to go to school, they don't want tme to force her although i have been forcing her as much as i can as i want her at school.

Floralnomad Mon 11-Feb-13 17:57:43

I've no advice I'm afraid , but you have my sympathy . I just wouldn't worry about what they put it down as just keep your own records as to her attendance in case of a query later . TBH you've got enough on your plate without worrying about what box the school has ticked . My daughter has CFS ( she's 13) and when her attendance was at its worst ( she's not in MS now) I didn't care what the school thought although I often got the impression that they felt I wasn't trying to get her in. I'm more concerned about her health than the schools statistics . Good luck .

MariusEarlobe Mon 11-Feb-13 18:04:55

It should be authorised because they sent her home.

I'm a bit surprised tbh, as a mum of a child with As and someone who's worked in schools I've only ever seen a child with AS sent home once. That was because the child had become very violent and got into a real state and was past being calmed down.

I don't think they are helping you get her in school if they send her home if she asks to go home.

Passmethecrisps Mon 11-Feb-13 18:11:41

We have a category - Exceptional Domestic - which can be used in situations such as this.

The only reason I can think that they would elect to refer to it as unauthorised is if they called you for support in keeping her at school but you refused and took her straight home. This doesn't sound like what happened.

Why are you concerned about the category of absense? What is the consequence?

I would be more concerned by the school refusal and would suggest you ask for a meeting with the various professionals to have a plan of action. School refusal is stressful enough for parents without you worrying about a category.

piratecat Mon 11-Feb-13 18:13:03

what a hard situation you are in with your daughter op, i know how frustrating it can be to want your child in school, and they can't go. Having insufficient support is soul destroying, schools seem to vary with that aspect.

I think i would not concentrate one bit of upset on the unauthorised absence, just email the school briefly to tell them you wish it to be put under something else, seeing as they called you.

Is there someone else you can speak to within the school or outside of the system?

I feel for you.x

Marne Mon 11-Feb-13 18:13:19

Thanks Marius, Dd2 doesn't get violent (other than kicking out at me whilst trying to get her dressed), she just screams and cries. She has 2 TA's on Monday, one in the morning (who is very good, has been her TA from the start) and another in the afternoon (someone who has only worked with her for a few months), the TA in the morning knows dd2 a lot better and knows how to calm her down but the one in the afternoon is still learning, i think they felt with the switch over of TA's dd2 would just get more upset. I have prepared dd2 with visuals for tomorrow and we have talked about 'staying for lunch' so fingers crossed she will stay all day.

She has been sent home a few times but only twice from this school (the other school sent her home often).

roundabout1 Mon 11-Feb-13 18:15:05

marne - my dd 7 has no special needs but I have had occasions of late when she refuses school & kicks & hits out. When they are little it is just about possible to get them dressed and drag them to school getting kicked black & blue in the process, I would say it would be impossible to forcibly dress & take an older child so you have my sympathy.

Marne Mon 11-Feb-13 18:17:44

The main concern of them putting it down as 'unauthorised' is that they might not allow us a week off for our holiday in May, i know it might not sound important but we can not go away during the holidays as its just too busy for dd2 and she cant cope (so we go when the camp site is almost empty). I'm worried they will put all the time she has had off as 'unauthorised', she has had about a week off (over the past 2 weeks) due to school refusal.

Marne Mon 11-Feb-13 18:19:16

Thanks roundabout, she's almost the size of my 9 year old dd1 (so not a small girl) and she's quite strong when she wants to be sad.

Passmethecrisps Mon 11-Feb-13 18:21:34

Any holiday during term time is marked as unauthorised unless you are employed by an approved organisation. That is in my authority anyway.

Make sure you get a meeting arranged and discuss the need for a family holiday at this time. The school need to be more helpful than simply calling you to pick her up.

TheLightPassenger Mon 11-Feb-13 18:23:09

Next time they call to ask you to pick DD up early, I would be tempted to tell them you will only do so if it's confirmed in writing it's an authorised absence.

Viviennemary Mon 11-Feb-13 18:27:47

I agree with you that it shouldn't be unauthorised as, if the school asked you to pick her up and take her home, then they were authorising the absence. And it was a bit misleading of the teacher to tell you not to worry and then say unauthorised absence.

MyHeadWasInTheSandNowNot Mon 11-Feb-13 18:29:43

<<HUGS>> Marne Sod the school and their stupid bloody boxes. Just keep a really good record of days off and why she was off. It is the school who should be answering to YOU here, THEY have created this problem with their totally chaotic changing of teachers... 5 since September isn't acceptable for NT children, let alone those with any additional needs. THEY need to up their game. Pronto. Do you have a DH who can go in? Funnily enough, they seem to listen more when there's a bloke involved. Utterly pathetic, but it does seem so sad If not, pull up your big girl pants and don't let them blame you for this! Go and find out what THEY intend to do to make her happier to go. Very angry on your behalf and really feel for you having DD at home when you should be getting a break.

socharlotte clearly you don't have any experience with children with SN's. Your post is really thoughless & hurtful.

MyHeadWasInTheSandNowNot Mon 11-Feb-13 18:32:01

TLP - yes, that's a good idea.

I'd give two seconds thought to whether the holiday is approved or not, I'd take her... end of.

DizzyHoneyBee Mon 11-Feb-13 18:33:12

It shouldn't be unauthorised and I am surprised that the school are putting it down as that, most schools want to keep unauthorised absence down.

HermioneE Mon 11-Feb-13 18:35:59

OP I know feck all about AS, but this link is a DfE report on absence in schools in England. Page 75 has the following definition:

^Authorised absence is absence with permission from a teacher or other
authorised representative of the school. This includes instances of absences
for which a satisfactory explanation has been provided. The following absence
reasons are classified as authorised:
• Illness (NOT medical or dental appointments)
• Medical/dental appointments
• Religious observance
• Study leave
• Traveller absence
• Agreed family holiday
• Agreed extended family holiday
• Excluded, no alternative provision
• Other authorised circumstances^

So I would argue to the school that if they are asking you to pick your DD up, they have clearly granted permission for you to do so and cannot possibly be then contradicting themselves by trying to say that this is unauthorised presumably because they want to massage the numbers

Although I guess you might want to be more tactful than that if you're going to be asking them for some holiday in term time later grin

IAmLouisWalsh Mon 11-Feb-13 18:37:44

All absence is now classified in the same way - no real difference between authorised and unauthorised absence as far as the government is concerned. We usually manage something with codes about educated offsite for the circumstances you describe. All holidays are unauthorised absence, though - that has been an LA wide decision.

MariusEarlobe Mon 11-Feb-13 18:38:48

Is the morning TA only doing half days or does she have another class in afternoon, it would be better if she had same TA all day sad

When my dc and the children I supported got upset we calmed them down and went out of the classroom to a calm area until they calmed down. My friends boy with AS gets sent home because he punches and kicks teacher.

If she's not being aggressive at school (my dc is same at school) they should be dealing with her not sending her home.

If she is getting unauthorised when they send her home I'd be tempted to have a casual chat with lea to be honest.

Marne Mon 11-Feb-13 19:34:31

The morning TA is part time, we brought her with us when we moved schools (she had to have an interview and be employed by the new school) but they already had another member of staff to cover some of the hours so they would only employ her part time (its all down to money and using staff they already have on site), the good TA works half days on mon, tue and wed and on thur and fri she stays with dd all day (dd2 is more relaxed on these days), she would be willing to work full time if the school would agree to it but they wont sad.

Dh said he will come in with me tomorrow to talk to the head, dd2 is already screaming about tomorrow and doesn't want to go in sad, i just feel so tired and i dread the mornings sad.

insanityscratching Tue 12-Feb-13 07:50:18

I think you should post on the SN board and contact IPSEA tbh because asking you to collect her because they can't manage her behaviour (whether that's disruptive or because she is distraught) is in fact an unofficial exclusion and not unauthorised absence. You need to have everything documented as it sounds like dd isn't getting the support she needs and you will need evidence of this should you want more or a different type of provision later.

piratecat Tue 12-Feb-13 09:46:01

oh Marne, this be so tough for you. I hope you get to speak to someone at school xx

cory Tue 12-Feb-13 10:00:37

Paper trail, paper trail, paper trail!

Make sure that every time something happens you write to the school and keep copies yourself.

"This is just to confirm that I took dd home on your request at X o'clock on February Y", "this is just to confirm that I kept dd at home on the nth following your advice during our telephone conversation at x o'clock".

piratecat Tue 12-Feb-13 16:28:04

waves at cory x

cory Tue 12-Feb-13 18:23:41

waves back at piratecat x

Hi, you really need to get a plan going with the school about properly reintegrating back to a full day _ can they get advisory teachers (asd) involved, and come up with a professionally backed plan? Ask what's been marked and then worry if necessary. The risk is also that education welfare contact you if she has a lot of unauthorised absence\absence and that may or may not be helpful.

maizieD Tue 12-Feb-13 18:39:31

I get the feeling that you're all being remarkable cool about the number of 'unauthorised absences'. Unless things have changed recently too many unauthorised absences will trigger a visit from the EWO (Education Welfare Officer) and a possible fine.

I think your HT was being economical with the truth about the 'category' she could use. It could have been put down as 'Other Authorised Circumstances'. It all sounds a bit odd to me...

Holidays in term time don't go down as unauthorised absence if the parents have asked for, and obtained, permission from the school to take the child on holiday.

IAmLouisWalsh Tue 12-Feb-13 18:49:35

But schools do not have to authorise an absence for holidays and several do not. We don't. Any holiday is unauthorised in term time.

maizieD Tue 12-Feb-13 19:17:37

No, they don't have to authorise holidays, but they can.

FelicityWasCold Tue 12-Feb-13 19:26:18

In this case a visit from the EWO would most likely benefit the OP. she will not get a fine- far more likely that the school will get a bollocking!

Marne Tue 12-Feb-13 20:58:40

Thank you for your replies. Dd2 managed to stay all day today so I am hoping from now on she will go in, she's had about 5 days off in all (including the half days) and has only had a couple days off sick since September ( I know a lot of children that have had weeks off sick). Last year they authorised our holiday (5 days off) after we explained how hard it is to take the dd's away in the holidays as both dd's have Asd and can't cope when it's busy and noisy ,so I was hoping they would do the same this year, we go away the week before half term so it's not as though they are doing much at school that week.

I havn't spoke to the head yet ( as she was not available to talk).

She seemed to have had a good(ish) day today and they let her spend the afternoon with her TA from last year ( she knows dd2 better than the new TA ), fingers crossed tomorrow will be ok too.

float62 Tue 12-Feb-13 20:59:18

This circumstance is also known as an 'informal exclusion', does the TA go home too? Probably not, although it is solely your dd's sn and full statement that pays for them. Hate to doom and gloom but often things can start going pear-shaped from a good start for many asd kids at ms (have you considered specialist provision?), but many schools are loathe to admit they can't meet the child's needs. As other posters have advised, get thee some advice from IPSEA and the MN SN gals. Also, on a positive note, you are in a pretty strong position (although it can't feel like it) you already have a dx and full statement so that removes a swathe of hoops from the 'course' so to speak. Good luck.

cory Wed 13-Feb-13 08:29:14

maizieD, in the case of a child whose needs are not being met, a visit from the EWO is not necessarily a bad thing

they are not just there to dish out fines; they listen to you first and if you get them on your side, they can help to put pressure on the school

BalloonSlayer Wed 13-Feb-13 08:38:39

Perhaps as Marnes DD is school refusing, the EWO will be some help, so the school have put it down as unauthorised so that the EWO will get informed sooner rather than later.

Littleturkish Wed 13-Feb-13 08:42:58

Have you considered an SEN school?

I would feel that the 'unauthorised' would give more pressure to the LEA to produce more funding to provide help for your daughter.

Not the same situation- but strategies I have seen work have been:

alternative curriculum provided on site
staggered reintroduction to school
part education at a different facility whilst staying on role at MS school with the view to go full time in the long term at MS school

However, it sounds like you may wish to investigate alternative educational options- sadly things like teacher changes/schedule upheavals will happen in MS and there is only so much differentiation that they can offer. Is there a good provision of SEN in your area? Is there a reason why you chose mainstream or were you not given a choice?

Sorry for all the questions! I hope some of that helps.

socharlottet Wed 13-Feb-13 08:51:33

'does the TA go home too? Probably not, although it is solely your dd's sn and full statement that pays for them. '

what point were you trying to make?

5madthings Wed 13-Feb-13 08:57:40

The point I assume is the ta is paid to care for the op's dd and once she is no longer at school you can bet that the school will then use the ta for other work which is not what she is paid for or contracted to do.

For the school its a win we in situation, the 'difficult' child is sent home and then they have an extra member of staff at their disposal.

TheBuskersDog Wed 13-Feb-13 09:07:41

I would echo what a couple of other posters have said, do you think she is in the right setting? Does your daughter manage to do the work that the other children do with TA support or does she have a very differentiated curriculum?Is her behaviour the same as or different to at home?

Your daughter's behaviour at home sounds very much like my son's when he was younger, there's no way he would have coped in a mainstream classroom (and he would have totally impacted on the education of the other children).

As somebody else said it could be to your advantage if it alerts the authorities to the fact that the school cannot manage your daughter's needs. It is a lot cheaper for them to have a child in mainstream with TA support than in specialist provision, so evidence that the school is not meeting her needs can be important when getting the right provision.

Im sure you want your daughter educated in her local mainstream school, we all do in an ideal world, but sometimes as parents we have to accept that that is not always what is best for the child, and that is what is most important.

Branleuse Wed 13-Feb-13 09:14:22

that's for their records.don't concern yourself As long as its recorded in case you need it

41notTrendy Wed 13-Feb-13 09:26:06

Afaik the school can't really send a child home for these reasons. Illness yes, behaviour no. If her behaviour is causing problems then the school should exclude. They are not helping your dd in any way by doing this, they can't just send her home because they're not coping!
As has been suggested you need serious meetings with the head and SENCO. Urgently. I hope you get sorted, you and your dd deserve better.

socharlottet Wed 13-Feb-13 10:17:16

But to be fair the TA is contracted to work x no of hours per week.Under employment law she can't just be sent home!!!

zipzap Wed 13-Feb-13 11:02:14

How about contacting the EWO now, say you are worried by the lackadaisical way the HT seems to be treating your dd's absences and find out what she suggests?

That way you can say to the HT that she can use xxx code instead of unauthorised absence. And the EWO will see that you are a worried parent of a SN child who is now having to battle school as well as being so worried by your dd (as opposed to somebody who doesn't care if their child is in school or not), and hopefully give you some useful support. And, when any automatic notification is sent to her to say that your dd has got lots of unauthorised absences, she will think 'Oh yes, I've already spoken to Marne about that, I know what's going on, we're trying xy and z along with the school' rather than thinking 'and here's another one to add to my list of trouble'.

Mutteroo Wed 13-Feb-13 13:37:01

I recall a child being sent home when he wasn't able to cope but this was agreed with the parents and school and never noted as unauthorised?

I don't have an autistic child, however I've worked with plenty. Echoing what some have said about the setting? Maybe even DD staying in mainstream but in a school that has a specialist ASC class? The school would have experience to deal with the challenges that come with an autism diagnosis. I'm also wondering if the current school are stating the absence is unauthorised so that they can use it to state they're not able to support your DD? Witnessed this happen some years ago now. Initially the parents were fuming, but it truly was the best option and the child thrived in a specialist school.

Or last option is that this period is a blip and DD will attend school for the rest of her education without any further issues! Wouldn't that be fantastic but alas unrealistic even without the extra complications autism brings. My thoughts are with you OP and I hope the school can find some further ways to support your daughter in school. Make sure everything is in writing and if they are going to continue to note down absence as unauthorised, use this to your advantage.

Marne Wed 13-Feb-13 14:20:15

We have considered a sn school and before Christmas we went to look at the only sn school in our area, we felt it wasn't for dd and the head said they had no other children there without learning difficulties, dd2 is working a year above with reading and maths, slightly below for writing but that's due to language problems ( spelling is good just her writing doesn't always make sense) so she's not classed as having learning difficulties, most of dd's issues are sensory and social skills (lack of). There are no other schools in a 30 mile radius that take children like dd (high functioning autism) and most of the ms schools have no experience of Asd as they are so small ( most schools here have no more than 80-100 pupils). So we are a bit stuck for choices, this is the 2nd school she has been too, it has a good reputation unlike the other schools near by, is small and friendly ( or it used to be ).

Veritate Wed 13-Feb-13 20:16:58

This is not either an authorised or unauthorised absence, it is an unlawful exclusion, so it is definitely the school that is in the wrong, not the OP. I would suggest pointing that fact out to the school - fairly gently, but making it clear you know what the legal position is and that you will take it further if they don't correct their records.

JakeBullet Wed 13-Feb-13 20:24:36

Veritate is absolutely right. This is tantamount to unauthorised exclusion. Are the school liaising with the local SENCAN office because they absolutely should be as currently she is not able to access the curriculum.

MareeyaDolores Thu 14-Feb-13 00:26:25

I wonder if her top-up funding has been reduced. If she came as a managed moved from another school, she would probably have had a dowry or premium for a certain period. Or if her increased needs owing to all the staff changes) means the school is no longer able to use her TA for additional tasks as well as supporting her.

Self-referrals to educational welfare officer and unlawful exclusions

Littleturkish Thu 14-Feb-13 01:08:50

I'm so sorry to hear that there is no suitable schooling near you.

I would insist on a meeting with class teacher, senco and head to organise a reintegration plan.

If it has been fantastic, it can be fantastic again.

Have you investigated play therapy, as you dd is high functioning she may find it very beneficial.

christinecagney Thu 14-Feb-13 20:03:51

This is definitely an unlawful exclusion I would say (I am a HT). Do you have a caseworker at the LA who managed the statement ink process? Document everything and inform them, if not phone IPSEA (google their website). Let the HT know politely hat you are dong this. It's really serious to unlawfully exclude a child, IMHO, and a statements child even more so.

christinecagney Thu 14-Feb-13 20:04:50

Sorry for typos...statementing not ink....etc

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