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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?

rubyextravagance Mon 17-Jun-13 22:51:24

I have a social work background, although I left due to disillusionment so no longer work for children's services, so I can't say my views are representative of people who thrive in the profession.
The only part of what you've said that sounds like neglect is the lateness issue. Social workers should have better things to spend public money on, like protecting children being starved and beaten than to pursue your case.
I imagine buying chocolate bars implies you were seen in the shop when you should have been getting the kids to school because there is nothing wrong with buying children chocolate. Who doesn't buy their children chocolate?? It's actually better for their teeth and has a lower sugar content than a lot of these fanciful yogurt coated fruit products etc that are trendy at the moment and are considered 'healthy'.
As for contacting your mother, I am quite sure that schools can contact next of kin if they can justify your non cooperation (not attending a meeting, ignoring a letter) but definitely check your schools policy documents for safeguarding and lateness / absence, home - school agreement etc. If the school has contravened them, you should bring this evidence to light in any conversation you have with social services to show that the headteacher does not have a fair opinion of you and has not followed proper procedure, it also shows you are the sort of person who is aware of your rights and you will be treated with greater respect, so do make yourself very aware of your position with the law.
This doesn't warrant a full blown social work involvement. The only real issue is the time keeping. You'll probably be put on a CAF, with regular meetings, and be set targets. The CAF will be transferred to the new school, but this is a bonus for you as you'll be able to have a fresh start with a new head.
It's true having a DV past puts you in the dock for essentially being a 'weak personality' who is unable to protect her children. The victims continue to be victimised. Honestly, this shouldn't be relevant but it will come up in any interview you have to go to lengths to emphasis how protective of your children you are and how this factored into your decision to leave the relationship etc.
While being late probably isn't going to ruin your child's educational career (unless we are talking an hour+) schools are basically training grounds for work and teach your children the importance of punctuality so really you need to be on top of this one. Definitely explain about the buses. In fact, emphasise the bus issue with evidence (timetables etc) and if social services get involved they are able to get onto the council to speed up your transfer to another school (and you could possibly ask for help paying for a taxi).
If you are having problems getting things washed and dried on time, then more is the answer! You might want to ask politely (to make clear that you do actually care) how you can get hold of cheap / second hand uniforms as you say you are on benefits and everyone knows how expensive they are.
Chocolate drinks in lunchbox, probably only a problem if it is a regular affair after you've been warned not to. Again, this is really not a big deal (and SS will not see it as one) provided you can justify that the rest of the lunch is healthy and you have seen the errors of your way. (Considering how unhealthy dentists and many doctors consider fruit juice to be this is all a matter of fashion. Chocolate drink contains milk surely? Some schools consider malt loaf an unhealthy food, yet when you consider what is in the fruit and snack bars that they consider 'healthy' this is laughable.)

Some people are terrible at organisation, time keeping, especially in the mornings, but schools will always be upset about lateness and absences, it effects their ofsted rating!

If your children are happy and thriving this will certainly go in your favour, although that is never a guarantee so do not relax on that basis.

(you might try your best to befriend the new school, even if it's just to do a spot of volunteering)

You do want to cooperate at this point and be agreeable, simply because if a plan is put in place (i.e they carry out a core assessment) this record of involvement will stay with your DD (and you and your and HER future children) and so should suspicions of 'neglect' ever be alleged again the previous record will make them seem more serious than they may be.

Cooperation is everything I'm afraid.

juniper9 Mon 17-Jun-13 23:35:08

Ruby I think the thing is, this is all from the OP's point of view, so although it seems far fetched for social services to get involved over the incredibly minor misdemeanours that the OP has stated, there is probably far more to the picture than the OP sees or wants to admit to.

This being a deadish thread, I think most people came to the conclusion that the OP wasn't willing to listen to other people's perspectives anyway, and her story became increasingly nonsensical and garbled.

MidniteScribbler Tue 18-Jun-13 05:58:25

As a teacher, there are so many red flags in the OP's postings that I would be required by law to report it. Constant lateness, child being brought to/from school by an ill grandparent and teenager instead of her parent, unsuitable clothing, poor hygiene. The OP has refused free school meals and is providing a lunch with less nutritious content. Uses lack of money for bus fares as an excuse for tardiness, but is seen buying luxury products. Add in the increasingly incoherent ramblings as the night went on, and I would question whether alcohol may be a factor. This absolutely needs to be reported, I am really concerned for the OP and her children.

AuntieStella Tue 18-Jun-13 07:00:25

This thread is 6 months old.

Unless OP updates it, there really isn't much to add as all angles (including info from OP's other threads) was discussed pretty exhaustively in January.

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