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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?

lljkk Tue 08-Jan-13 19:42:33

You sound hard work, Pylonic.
Maybe school are bigger prats, I don't know. I don't think it would bother me if I were you & my mum often picked said child up & school spoke to her about all this, I think that's red herring & won't deter SS from investigating.
I don't think SS will have enough to go on to make much of this (sadly I speak from experience).

Mynewmoniker Tue 08-Jan-13 19:42:39

Feelingood wink I like your 'friendly/understanding' approach but I'm not sure it will support the child as mum seems too busy defending her actions instead of telling us how she's going to care for her daughter better.

NorthernLurker Tue 08-Jan-13 19:43:36

Why is it ok for your mum to collect your child and have temporary responsibility for her but not ok for the school to speak to her about that child's well being hmm

You're doing yourself no favours by being so confrontational about this.

ihearsounds Tue 08-Jan-13 19:43:38

I can see where 'no dialogue' comes in place.
The school do not have silly rules. They have rules for a reason. Barging in because you don't agree with their silly rules is unacceptable.

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 19:43:38

Northern lurker, it's a valid excuse. I can't afford the bus fares,mtrust me.

gingerchick Tue 08-Jan-13 19:44:08

You seem to have no respect for rules. I am an insomniac and sometimes get less than an hours sleep but my daughter is never late for school and my younger daughter never late to pre school. Sometimes I am so tired I could weep but my daughters education is paramount and I just suck it up and get on with it. I think it is your general attitude which is highlighting you and your complete lack of responsibility for your actions, your dv past shouldn't have a bearing really. I also have one and have had to tell the school everything but because my daughter is always at school with everything she needs and all her needs tended to it is not an issue

scottishmummy Tue 08-Jan-13 19:44:23

if your depression is impacting on routine see your gp
you do need to demonstrate ability to manage task adequately.
if there are factors impeding you these need to be acknowledged

Bajas Tue 08-Jan-13 19:44:40

As a teacher albeit secondary, lateness is a huge bugbear of mine.

If pupils are late regularly to registration or assembly they miss lots of key information about after school or lunch time clubs, activities and opportunities. They also miss that crucial 'settling in' period so they are ready to start learning with everyone else. If they miss the start of classes that is an even bigger issue. lateness will become a much bigger issue in secondary school

We also have spare blazers (secondary) in case of emergency (blazer torn etc) but would not expect to have to lend them repeatedly to the same child. Each head of year only has 2 for a year group of 150 so they are not always available.

While I agree the head was unreasonable to bring this up with your mother instead of you, I can see why he/ she is concerned about your child.

I think you should consider some of the helpful suggestions from previous posters as to how to improve the situation rather than giving a list of reasons why you can't/ shouldn't have to deal with these issues

NorthernLurker Tue 08-Jan-13 19:46:08

You can't afford bus fare twice a day? (Because you and the younger child can walk home and walk there to pick up). How much is it?

Does the school provide hot dinners? I think your dd should qualify and then you can use the cost of her packed lunch on bus fare.

EnjoyResponsibly Tue 08-Jan-13 19:47:12

Did you explain to the school that you'd have issues with your DDs transportation prior to moving. Managing their expectations would have been fair, and made things easier for you and DD.

Maybe if you explained your issues as well as addressing their obvious concerns you'd have an easier time with them.

scrappydappydoo Tue 08-Jan-13 19:47:12

Could you get in touch with the council regarding transport - my dd was eligible for taxi/bus transport as we lived further than 2 miles from the school. This may help with the transport issue.

Hobbitation Tue 08-Jan-13 19:48:11

We have been late a few times due to my insomnia but not every day for six months. Please speak to your GP. I'm very glad you have admitted it on here, I think that's very positive FWIW.

andtoast Tue 08-Jan-13 19:48:32

I think this is a good old fashioned case of an "attitude problem" on your part. At least the school are looking out for your daughter because frankly it doesn't sound like you give a toss.

These are basic, basic things. You're developing a victim complex instead of facing the fact that you've been a bit crap.

RyleDup Tue 08-Jan-13 19:48:57

Get in touch with the council about funding for transport if you can't afford it.

EnjoyResponsibly Tue 08-Jan-13 19:49:45

OP hasn't got insomnia, she says that in her OP and that she lied about it in the late book.

teacherwith2kids Tue 08-Jan-13 19:50:07

I am not your DD's teacher, but if I were, I too would have rasied concerns about your DD:
- Inadequately dressed for weather, passing responsibility on to the school - yes, the school may lend clothes in extremis, as they do not want children to suffer from your neglect, but it is your neglect.
- Lack of balanced meals - if the meal is chocolate milk, sandwiches containing protein, a piece of fruit and some raisins, that's one thing. Chocolate milk, jam sandwiches, crisps and a chocolate biscuit is another. can you describe a typical daily lunch for your DD?
- Persistent lateness, with a variety of excuses which are beginning to seem repetitive / inaccurate.

Are you late at other times of the day? Persistent lateness picking up is a definite trigger point.

The refusal to work within school rules on other occasions does speak volumes about your attitude, and makes me wonder whether there is 'another side' of this story?

RyleDup Tue 08-Jan-13 19:51:00

Oh and in the meantime you can do as northern suggests and walk some of the journeys back and too.

mrz Tue 08-Jan-13 19:52:12

The council won't fund transport unless you live over a certain distance and your child attends the nearest school and they will only find it for the child not an adult

CrackedNipplesSuchFun Tue 08-Jan-13 19:52:19

I think that feelingood has given some excellent advice there and you should most definitely start that as soon as possible. However, I think you should really arrange to speak with the HT, face to face, for a frank and honest conversation. Express what you have us in this thread and then he can make a more informed opinion on the situation.

If you feel and that you are being victismed and HT takes this further, then you will have nothing to fear. Just be honest with everyone involved.

scottishmummy Tue 08-Jan-13 19:52:35

have you had benefit assessment?eligible for free meals?
you need to prioritize getting to school and good relationship with school
if your depression is impacting then see the gp.are your meds needing reviewed

LIZS Tue 08-Jan-13 19:53:13

I'd suggest you resolve to make a serious effort to get your dd there on time , look into any free transport for her, school meals etc and arrange to meet the head yourself. If she needs another cardigan can you ask if there is a second hand sale. If you continue to deny there is an issue and look to blame others then you are on a slippery slope.

Aspiemum2 Tue 08-Jan-13 19:53:29

I'm not going to add anything to what others have said over the lateness issue as it would just be more of the same.

I just wanted to check that you are aware of the uniform grant that is available if you meet certain criteria. I believe it is £50 per child so would enable you to purchase some more cardigans and have money set aside for other bits she may need over the year.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Tue 08-Jan-13 19:53:45

Why can't you set 3 alarms? 4? 5?

Confused. Surely you need to just get out of bed any way possible. I'd be outside the school 10 minutes before opening time if I thought SS were about to investigate me.

I'd also put SACKS of cardigans in her bag to make sure she was warm.

You just sound a bit distanced and blaming everyone else. Be more proactive and stop blaming snooze / teachers / logos and buses.

Can't YOU go and see the Head?

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 19:53:50


Going round in circles a bit here, isn't it.

I do have some valid reasons, finances for one. Can't afford the bus fares. If you knew a bit moreofmy backstory it would make more sense I suppose.
Having a chocolate drink in a lunchbox where there's no lunchbox policy hardly constitutes malnutrition. But you choose to ignore the fruit and other content, else it wouldn't make an interesting response I suppose.
Oh lateness/laziness isn't forgivable of course not, but I suspect it's a product of general unhappiness over the last couple of years based on issues with their father. Who knows.
And no, if her uniform is I the wash, she can't wear the logo cardigan to school. It's really not a big deal, especially where many other children don't wear the full uniform at all.

What else? Oh, the bristling. Absolutely yes, I have a problem with unproductive rules. I suppose you can paint an entire picture of my psychological profile based on the fact I refused to sit out the nativity play just because there was a no siblings rule. I'd like to think I barged in all Joan of Arc style too, but in fact I shuffled in apologetically as is my usual nature and sat down quietly.


TheSecondComing Tue 08-Jan-13 19:53:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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