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What happens now my DD (yr8) is refusing to attend school?

(17 Posts)
BigginsforPope Thu 11-Feb-16 10:34:52

Looking for some advice ( I posted a few weeks ago about similar) but dd is twelve and in year 8. She has struggled to settle in at high school since she started in year 7 as no one from her primary went to the same school. Things have recently been getting worse with dd refusing to attend school for random days and now she has missed quite a lot of school. We have been in touch with the school on every occasion, letting them know what is happening, asking their advice etc. We are at a loss what to do next. DD wants to move schools because she has no friends. and feels very much on her own at school. She is quiet and shy, academically able and generally well behaved. She has one good friend from primary who she sees often but attends no extra curricular clubs at school or outside of school.

I feel like I've failed her. I can't physically make her go to school. She is taller than me and after I have confiscated her phone, tablet, bedroom door and make up there is nothing left. She is so determined not to go.
What happens now and what should I be doing?

(I have emailed the school again this morning.)

derektheladyhamster Thu 11-Feb-16 10:41:18

Is there a reason she can't go to the same school as her friends? If she's been unhappy since yr 7, that's a long time not to have adjusted. Do the school have a counsellor? Or maybe a private one.

Finally, make sure she has not fallen too far behind in her schoolwork, a tutor (maybe a teacher from school would help?) Might be an idea, as this could be adding to her anxiety.

I have a small idea of how you feel flowers

mummytime Thu 11-Feb-16 10:41:30

You need to take her to the GP - and ideally get referred for some counselling for her.

Actually getting the EWO called in might help with this.

Can you get her into the school she would prefer? Although both you and she need to know this would not necessarily solve everything.
She needs to do something extra-curricula if at all possible.

I would also try to stop this being a fight. What is she doing with her time whilst not in school? Can you ensure she does something academic? Can her teachers send some suggestions home?

BigginsforPope Thu 11-Feb-16 11:14:57

I think she could get into her preferred school and I realise that this isn't an instant fix but I think dd does think it would solve everything. As far as school work is concerned she isn't behind (yet) but not making much progress due to absence.
I am trying not to fight with her. So this morning when she refused to get out of bed and get ready for school, we have agreed that she is up, showered and dressed and at the moment changing her bed and tidying her bedroom. Next we are going to walk the dogs together and then I will go through her school books and set her some kind of project. She does seem agreeable to anything but going to school.
As of now the school haven't been back in touch.

Abracadabra10 Thu 11-Feb-16 11:30:12

Sounds like she needs to change school. Is she being bullied in any way, do you think? Or maybe she just feels excluded socially and as time goes on things seem more hopeless. Really feel for you both. I would get her to the GP as soon as possible and look for another school and a fresh start.

madwomanacrosstheroad Thu 11-Feb-16 11:33:04

Go and see the gp. My daughter is a couple of years older, but things started to go wrong when she started post primary. She did not settle at all. Not going did not occur to her at the time but she was quite unhappy. In her narrative it was because most of the girls from her primary school had gone to another school. After 18 months of not settling in we did move her. As she has very good academic ability she moved from one selective school to another. Problems persisted and new ones popped up. By now she has a statement of special educational needs and is being assessed for ASD. And she has become a school refuser. I am not saying that is the issue in your case but girls on the autistic spectrum are often very good at masking it and then starting to cope progressively less well when having to cope with the more complex realities in post primary. A child who generally follows rules and becomes a school refused at that age would raise alarm bells. Also EWO can be good support. You can contact them yourself. Have you spoken to the schools SENCO and discuss referral to education psychology?

BigginsforPope Thu 11-Feb-16 11:40:00

The attendance officer at the school has not been much help up to now. The learning mentor has tried to involve dd in activities and talk to her. WE are fairly sure she is not being bullied but more excluded partly due to her own shyness we think and partly due to the other children not knowing her.
I do think that is has gone on long enough and something has to change. The school we choose for her is a good school but she hasn't settled and wants to go to her preferred choice.
I am still waiting the school to get back to me.

I am frightened that this could really disrupt her learning and cause her to sink into a depression. As parents we want her to be happy and to enjoy life.

madwomanacrosstheroad Thu 11-Feb-16 12:08:59

Most children will settle during their first year in secondary school. It is a time of huge change and usually the first time a child is confronted with completely new levels of independance and associated complexeties.
However school refusal at 12 yrs is outside the norm in a child who is otherwise reasonably compliant and who gets encouraged to go to school.
I do think you need professional support and then decide whether a school move is in her best interest. I assume there were reasons why she went to a different school. Also schools are not exactly queuing up to admit children with poor attendance record so you could try to tell her that if she really wants to move school she needs to drastically improve her attendance in order to move after the summer. You do not want to transfer the problem, have issues in the new school and end up in a situation where your daughter has run out of options educationally as she already has had a couple of moves.
I can see from your first post that you are implementing boundaries but am unsure re the bedroom door. Did you actually remove her bedroom door??

PinanNidan Thu 11-Feb-16 12:48:10

Very very similar situation. Be aware changing schools might not be the fix. Asd issues here too.

BigginsforPope Thu 11-Feb-16 13:36:40

Yes - we removed the bedroom door because she was locking herself in/barricading the door. So we warned her, asked her to comply and when she didn't we had to follow through with our threat.

The reason she went to a different school was purely our choice as we thought it was a good school and it really impressed us when we looked around. Dd's preferred school (where some of her friends went) was our second choice so we are not opposed to her going there. REgarding attendance - the learning mentor and ourselves have both said that she needs good attendance in order to have a choice about moving schools. Her attendance at primary was very good though.
madwoman I am afraid that a move will not solve the problem but then again it may be a fresh start that she needs. We have also tried to explain that to dd too.
Generally she complies with requests to do stuff apart from go to school.

I've had a reply from the school now and they are arranging a meeting after half term with various people to see what are our options.

Thank you for your responses.

Decorhate Thu 11-Feb-16 18:17:11

Can I ask if your dd is at a state or private school? If state, I'm surprised the school are not doing more to help with the situation as they are measured on unauthorised absences. Esp if it's a good school with few pupils with attendance problems.

lljkk Thu 11-Feb-16 19:52:01

The school will do minimal, ime.

BigginsforPope Fri 12-Feb-16 08:28:13

It is a state school and we have had meetings with them about her attendance. The problem has always been settling/friendship issues and the school have tried to help her by encouraging her to join clubs and introducing her to other pupils. Last time the attendance officer had arranged to visit dd at home on day three of an absence when dd suddenly decided to go to school.

I feel like we have failed dd by our choice of school. Although I am relieved that school are now setting up a meeting after half term to try and sort it.

BigginsforPope Fri 12-Feb-16 15:41:16

I am also wondering what will happen in the meeting and what I need to focus on.

TeddTess Fri 12-Feb-16 15:50:36

move her. see if things get better.

TeddTess Fri 12-Feb-16 15:51:24

if you think secondary school is for 15 terms (actually 14 and a bit due to the GCSE term) then she has already done 4.5 and is very unhappy.

BigginsforPope Fri 12-Feb-16 17:30:39

I think I am going to push for moving school now. It has been too long and she is so miserable there. I'm not really sure the school can offer anything else at this stage.

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