Considering deregistering DD tomorrow, please help!

(29 Posts)
Beebityboo Sun 01-Nov-20 11:01:39

I posted in the Coronavirus subreddit yesterday but was advised to post here too. I need to make a decision today so really need advice.
DD is in year 8 and is suffering with terrible anxiety going to school right now, she also has Aspergers. She has anxiety anyway but currently with the pandemic it's a nightmare for her. She has a 45 minutes bus ride each way and the mask is suffocating for her. She won't consider an exemption badge/lanyard as I'm disabled and vulnerable to Covid. She is terrified she is going to make me sick. The whole atmosphere at school is tense and stressful.
I have two in primary but DD is desperate to be pulled out until next September. Her headteacher has told me she would almost certainly be allowed back and has been so supportive throughout, but be just can't let her stay home any longer. She was in one week last term! She also just finished self isolating due to being a close contact of a positive case "for several hours" and spent the last two weeks inside worried completely sick worried she was going to "kill her mummy" sad
I am doing a degree from home and DH is at home until April at the earliest so she will always have someone here and we will be enrolling her in an online school for English, Maths and Science (if we decide to go through with it).
She has been home educated before due to severe bullying and this school has been good for her, however she hasn't got a single friend still and just wants to be home with me sad.
A big worry is that the council will give us a back to school order and we'll be forced to send her to the local high school that she already had to leave due to severe bullying. I don't know how likely a scenario this is, though our council don't seem to like home educators very much!
I just don't know what to do for the best. It feels like there is no right answer, please help me to make a decision!

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Saracen Sun 01-Nov-20 14:20:11

((Hugs)) your poor girl! How upsetting for her. I can see why home education looks like the right solution for now. It seems like a great idea to me.

I assure you that it is extremely difficult for a Local Authority to force a child back to school against her parents' wishes, provided the parents get good advice and fight any attempt the LA may make. The law is on your side. You don't have to give your daughter a perfect education or even an education which is better than she would get at school. It only has to be suitable to her needs. The law is vague on what that means, so it would be hard to prove that the parents were failing in their duty. And of course home education, being individual, tends to actually be very well suited to the child's needs.

One scenario which is unfortunately pretty common is that LAs make empty threats, parents don't realise they needn't comply, and then parents "choose" to send their child back to school because they fear prosecution. Then the LA brags that many home educated children's education was found unsatisfactory and they were sent back to school, which is a very misleading take on what actually happened, which was bullying by the LA.

To reassure you further, I suggest you join this brilliant Facebook group: "Home Education and your Local Authority: Help with dealing with officialdom" www.facebook.com/groups/239232119524989/ It has some admins who are staggeringly knowledgeable about home education law and very helpful. I would suggest joining and posting as you posted above in order to get input from more people. You don't want to just take my word for it!

A word of warning is that because the above group exists for the purpose of helping parents whose LAs are behaving unreasonably, hanging around on that group would give a skewed impression of the experiences people have with their LAs. Some are fine. If I were you, I would go there when you need help and heed the advice, but don't spend too much time reading all the scary stories, or you'll get worried. They are true but not representative.

doctorhamster Sun 01-Nov-20 14:23:15

De register op. Your dds mental health is more important than going to school. You are legally allowed to home school so the LA can't force you to send her.

Beebityboo Sun 01-Nov-20 14:24:57

Thank you for that advice! If I do choose to deregister her, do I need to inform the LA or can I just wait and see if they contact us first? I'm hoping that we will just fly under the radar with everything else that is happening as my previous experiences with them have not been pleasant.

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Saracen Sun 01-Nov-20 14:26:50

I'm afraid that the headteacher appears not to know the law. He doesn't have any discretion in whether your daughter will be allowed to return to that school. He cannot keep a place waiting for her. When she wants to go back, if there is a vacancy, the school must take her. If there isn't a vacancy, the school cannot take her. It's as simple as that. If the school is full, you might appeal and try to get her in on the grounds that she can't attend the other school due to the previous bullying there, but it certainly isn't automatic.

It is possible that he meant the school is always undersubscribed and therefore he predicts that there will certainly be a vacancy. If that is true it would be great.

Or does she have an EHCP naming that school?

Beebityboo Sun 01-Nov-20 14:27:57

Also is it likely the LA would be satisfied with her being enrolled at interhigh or similar?

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Beebityboo Sun 01-Nov-20 14:29:51

She doesn't have a EHCP as of yet. I know the head can't give guarantees but has said they almost always have one or two spaces in years 9 and 10.

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Saracen Sun 01-Nov-20 14:32:05

You don't have to inform the LA. That is the school's job.

It seems unlikely that they will overlook her deregistration. You will probably have to correspond with them. But even with a "bad" LA, you just have to get good advice, stick to your guns, and when they ask for information, send them a report outlining your daughter's education. You can get help preparing the report from that Facebook group.

LAs are on a state of high alert with all the Covid-related deregistrations at the moment. Some of them are openly admitting that their agenda is to return as many children to school as possible. But they can't actually force kids to school unless a judge sides with them. Judges are more reasonable and very rarely do side with the LA.

bumblingbovine49 Sun 01-Nov-20 14:34:09

Beebityboo

She doesn't have a EHCP as of yet. I know the head can't give guarantees but has said they almost always have one or two spaces in years 9 and 10.

The fact is if your DD wants to go back at some point in the future, she will just need to wait for a space which is likely to cone up at some point. I really would take her out if you think she can work better at home

Beebityboo Mon 02-Nov-20 16:20:56

Well we took the plunge and sent her letter off today. She is so relieved. I'm very sad as it was a very good school but I think she will be so much better off at home this year and then we will put her on the waiting list next July all being well.
We are thinking of using Wolsey Hall for the key subjects and will probably enrol her next week.
I just really, really hope the LEA don't make it difficult for me.

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Saracen Tue 03-Nov-20 10:14:25

Congratulations on making your decision. I'm sure that will be a huge weight off your daughter's mind and she will soon be feeling more relaxed.

Nettleskeins Wed 04-Nov-20 21:35:09

I deregistered ds2 (also Asperger's)!at end of year 7 (completed the year) and we had two excellent years homeschooling.
Once you have deregistered they cannot do anything, except possibly ask you how you intend to give your child a suitable education.

We did a combo of lots of classic books a few exercise type books, history text books for that year group (Tudors for us) copying poetry and illustrating, bit of maths,few documentaries, bit of art (projects, workshops,)
About two hours formal work and we were done!!
Da went back to school with extra help (dyslexic) very end of year 9 transformed, and got v good GCSEs and A levels despite missing two years of school. Now at uni doing a humanities subject, no anxiety at all so far.

Nettleskeins Wed 04-Nov-20 21:38:54

We did lots of outdoor activities, winter was so great for getting out in good weather before the dark set in, compared to a typical school day where you come home as light fades, and worry about homework. No homework with home schooling..if you avoid signing up for online lessons. Might it be worth giving her a breathing space just for the rest of the term to find activities she enjoys before signing up?

Nettleskeins Wed 04-Nov-20 21:40:46

I appreciate you have already been through lockdown homeschooling, but it is subtly different when there really is No external pressure.

AspergersMum Mon 09-Nov-20 08:27:16

Any word from your LEA, Beeb? And how is it going at home smile

Beebityboo Mon 09-Nov-20 12:39:27

Hi, thank you for checking in! Not a peep from the LA as of yet. We have set DD up with Wolsey Hall for the three core subjects and she is happily getting on with it as we speak. She is already so much more relaxed!

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Nettleskeins Mon 09-Nov-20 13:23:44

That is wonderful! Relaxed child is the most most important thing.

Beebityboo Wed 11-Nov-20 15:52:51

The council have been in touch (didn't take very long!) but the lady seemed very nice and understanding. She has said I need (although I'm not sure I do legally?) to send in a home education plan in six weeks with evidence of DD's work etc. I'm quite stressed it won't be up to their standard and they will try to force her back to school as I don't think she would cope sad. They did seem happy she was enrolled in an online home school though.
I just feel quite worried and stressed and I don't really know why. Just hoped we'd be left to get on with it sad.

OP’s posts: |
Nettleskeins Wed 11-Nov-20 17:19:25

I sent in (after six months)
A list of books we had read together
Some examples of history topics we had covered (ie handwritten timeline, a mindmap, a paragraph of writing by ds)
Some art he had done on theme
A maths workbook we were using
List of parks we went to (physical exercise)
Some spelling work (ds ws dyslexic)

It was morethan enough.

As I say ds is now studying history and politics at a RG uni.

Nettleskeins Wed 11-Nov-20 17:26:17

Please dont worry.
A philosophy of education could be I want dd to do some online core subjects (x) and the rest of the time do a variety of things which help with her anxiety..ie art, sewing, walking, cooking, reading. Then some photos or a list of books she is enjoying, could.be non fiction.

They.just want to know she isnt.being kept at home, and deprived of learning opportunities of any kind, there have been some cases of this, sad to say.

Saracen Thu 12-Nov-20 00:08:07

It is best to tell the LA keep everything in writing rather than having phone conversations. There are several reasons for that:

- You have a record of what was said. This avoids misunderstandings and discourages some of the worse LAs from telling fibs.
- It creates a paper trail so if there are future disagreements you have proof of what happened. This is very helpful in the unlikely event it should go to court.
- You have time to think about how to respond. This is especially important if you are new to home ed, don't know the law inside and out and want to take advice.
- You can respond at a time which is convenient to you when you can focus on it and the conversation won't be overheard by a child who might fear being sent back to school. This can be particularly frightening for kids who have had a traumatic time at school. You can shelter them from that by doing it in writing.

Depending exactly what your LA meant by "education plan" and "evidence of work", they appear to be misleading you already about the legal requirements, which is a good reason to keep them at arms' length even if they seem nice.

You do not have to submit future plans and it is inadvisable to do so, because if the plans change the LA may say that you have failed to achieve what you set out to achieve. Any reference you may make to future plans should be hedged all round with provisos, e.g. "we are exploring the possibility of..." "my child has expressed an interest in..." "there is a class available to her..." and say that of course your education will be responsive to her evolving needs and is therefore subject to change.

The LA should not be requesting "evidence". You are not in a court of law. At this stage they should be making informal enquiries, which you may answer by providing information in a format of your choosing. Those who are up on the law recommend submitting a written report. This should be about what you have done and are doing, not about future plans. The report IS your evidence and would be accepted as such in court unless there were strong reason to believe you were lying. So you don't have to submit photos or copies of the child's work, for instance.

On the plus side, six weeks is a reasonable amount of time for you to settle in and have something to tell them. So you have ample time to think about what you want to say and make some notes as you go along of things you want to include.

If you want some help with it, I suggest you join the Facebook group I mentioned, where they have templates to help you write the report and very experienced people who will be happy to look at your draft and ensure the report is up to scratch.

Beebityboo Thu 12-Nov-20 07:40:48

Thank you Saracen, that post was really helpful.
I think based on what the email she sent said, they want an initial home education plan, and she is going to send a letter as well to clarify what they are requesting.
I'm just praying that the enrolment with her online school etc will be enough to satisfy them for the next few months as she will most likely be going back next September.
I just feel very anxious about the whole thing.

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Beebityboo Thu 12-Nov-20 07:44:07

Thank you as well Nettle, that has given me some ideas on what to include. Won't have a huge amount after only a few weeks but she has done some nice work already.
I'm wondering whether any letters from her Wolsey Hall tutors might help.

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FippertyGibbett Thu 12-Nov-20 07:47:16

Have you considered a school for children with special needs ?
I know a school in my area that takes children for emotional support when they can’t manage a high school.

Saracen Thu 12-Nov-20 08:38:08

It'll be fine, honestly. It really is exceptionally rare for an LA to succeed in pushing a home educated child into school if parents resist.

The main cases where children do end up back in school are where parents believe LA bluff and send their kids back to school without it going to court, or if the parents don't agree on the best way for their child to be educated. In the latter case, it would go to family court, which can be somewhat conservative (i.e. pro-school) and doesn't always side with the resident parent though you might expect the RP would understand their child's needs and daily struggles better than the non-resident parent. You haven't mentioned your daughter having another parent who is opposed to home education so I am guessing that doesn't apply either.

Everything will be okay. You can do this!

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