Mum could be getting sent to prison for my sister missing school, help!(34 Posts)
My mum has always done her best to get my sister to school, but some days she just refused to go. My mum obviously cannot force her, so she would let the school know. We had a lady from the school come round and talk to my mum and my sister about attendance.
Fast forwards a few months. My sister had a day off as she was sick and her attendance is currently at 91%
The school sent my mum a letter stating their intention to prosecute her, with either a fine of £2,500 or 3 months in prison.
Obviously both would be devastating for us, being a low income mum only family. I am 20, and I’m not sure how me and my two sisters (16, 13) would survive without my mum for even a month, never mind three.
Getting a job for a few months isn’t possible as I am doing a full time university degree. Would it be possible to fight the prosecution or if not, get her finances and child benefits transferred to me for a few months as a carer of sorts? My mum is terrified of going to prison and is convinced she is going to have to go. Please, help!
Can your Mum show what she has done, who she has contacted to get help and support?
What help has your dm sought to get your sister in education? If she is trying her best and can evidence that it will help her case. Why won't she attend?
Never mind proving she's done her best, show the intention to prosecute letter to the sister and let her see just how serious her refusal to attend school is.
Don't panic. A letter saying they can do this doesn't mean to say they will in this case.
They may well be threatening this to get your mother to comply with them. Or to take it seriously.
It shouldn't come out of the blue like you're saying it has. I do wonder if there's more to this that your mum and sister haven't told you?
91% attendance sounds quite high for this type of action, although it obviously falls under the base line of attendance required.
What does the letter say your mother needs to do?
Did an EWO come out? I would explain to your sister how serious this actually is, if you haven't already. Try to get to the crux of why she doesn't want to attend. Then access support in that area.
She could deregister and home educate if she cant get her daughter into school and doesnt want any trouble
So have you spoken to your sister about making sure she goes to school?
IF they do actually prosecute (with an attendance of 91% i very much doubt it) the first step will be to go to court.
Your dm can show the court what she has done etc etc
when you say currently at 91% is that since September?
It can't be at 91% if "some days she just refuses to go"?
I suggest that your Mum contacts citizens advise.
Its worst case scenario - speak to the school and help your mum get sis to school
You mum should qualify for free criminal legal aid, this is because of low income and the threat of a custodial sentence. The fine is up to £2,500 or 3 months. Seems harsh for 91% though!
I'm no help, sorry, but I just wanted to say that that one might have to win a 'most stupid policy' award and the Head who actually sent the letter a 'biggest twunt' award.
First off, don't panic. It actually highly unlikely your mum would go to prison if what you've said is the extent of it. Probably the best thing would be for your mum to ring the education welfare people and say she wants to do all she can to help her get into school but is not really sure what do as obviously she doesn't want to assault her (which dragging her out of bed kicking and screaming would be!). I would also get your mum to take your sister to the GP to a) confirm that she is/had been unwell but also to see if there are underlying mental health issues e.g. anxiety. Not only will this help your sister and the school to provide the best support but it will also show your mum is trying to get support.
Finally, don't panic.
My Mum was unfortunately in this situation too, due to both mine and my brother's attendance.
Firstly, I am sure you have done this but you need to establish the reasons for your sister not attending school and rectify that. Ensure that every means of support is in place i.e EWO (as mentioned above) health care professionals (if needed), family support worker or perhaps a mentor.
Secondly, if the school does prosecute. Your Mum needs to provide evidence that she made every attempt to comply and ensure your sister attended.
It is highly unlikely your mum will be imprisoned but it is likely it will result in a fine. My Mum received a fine.
15 years later, we are well rounded human beings. However school does not fill me with fond memories and I wish I had tried harder as to go to university I had to go through a different path to get there.
I hope both your sister and Mum get the support and help they need.
Why isn't your sister attending school? Is she being bullied? What are her reasons for not going? This is very important as it will form the basis of your defence if she is prosecuted.
Please do not panic. Worst case scenario even if your dm is prosecuted she is very unlikely to get a custodial sentence even if she is found guilty of non school attendance. I am sure the courts will do everything they can to keep her out of prison and there will be other options. This is especially the case if she hasn't got a criminal record already.
You urgently need to get to the bottom of why your sister is not going into school. I would ask for a meeting with the school, your mother and the head and ask what can be done to support your sister.
Taking her out of school to home school might be an option, but it may be a little late for that now but definitely worth exploring.
The school should be setting up a plan to support your dm to get your sister to school. They need to prove that THEY have done everything possible. So offering her half days, a mentor, counselling, reward system with vouchers for good attendance, transport etc. None of this will work if your sister is too scared to go to school. Make a record of what has been happening, your sister's reasons if they are valid and could be used to support your case.
Make sure she also isn't late, which will also add to the overall picture.
Why won’t she go to school, it can’t just be a case of she simply doesn’t want to can it? What have the school done to try and help? How does you mum handle it, I mean if you sister refuses to attend school one would assume she is allowed no phone/tv/laptop etc for the day
Just becuase they sent the letter, doesn’t mean they will do it and tbh 91% attendance is hardly outrageous!
If your sister 'just won't go' then your mum is goign to face a problem.
You r mum needs to prove that she is doing everything she can to get sister to go. This could by practical, lights on, remove duvet, wet flannel, loud alarm clock, open window etc etc to force her out of bed.
Consequences she has tried eg removal of phone.
Things like, removing screens at a reasonable time so she goes to sleep.
It should also be emotional finding out root cause, is she ill, is she depressed, is she being bullied, is she over tired, is she she struggling academically
It should also include her discussions with school (and there needs to be a history of communicating with school) so she and school come up with a plan to help sister get to school. (like littlebird said)
It should include her meetings with EWO, and I don't believe there has just been one, there will be a history of meetings.
Of course if your mum isn't doing all of that, and she is just allowing sister not to get up and go, then yes, she is going to face prosecution.
people commenting on the 91%
Our primary sent out a letter at the end of summer term saying that from sept, unstead of waiting for 91% (I think that was the old figure) they will now start taking action when attendance falls below 95%, in an attempt to stop it falling further.
Your sister not wanting to go to school is the bigger issues here. Sort that out and problem Solved.
If the school knew of a valid reason for her lack of attendance I doubt they will send the letter out and would rather have a discussion as to the best way forward.
91% sounds high but unless my maths is out it amounts to missing one day a fortnight. That's a lot when most lessons build on previous ones.
Does it tie in with particular days of the week or lessons?
Well then your sister needs to get her arse to school.
Easier said than done but try not to panic.
They are standard letters designed to scare you into paying up early.
If your Mum has been trying her best and has proof of this -this will help her case, as her Mum I'd ring the LA up and explain too.
DSs old school used to threaten me with fines regularly. (he's autistic - every day was a battle and we were constantly late - usually arriving with a boy with no socks ans shoes on and carrying him in kicking and screaming).
Told them to do what they needed to do and I'd tell the courts exactly why DS wouldn't go. Oddly they never followed through with the threat. <shrugs>
It was hard enough doing this with a six year old i can only imagine how hard it is to try and get a strapping teenager to school.
for your mum and you OP.
I'm sorry you're having to deal with this at such a young age.
Please do be assured that it's unlikely that they will send a parent like your Mum to prison. But the letter is a sign that there is something really seriously wrong here that needs fixing.
I am afraid that the time for you to step up to more of a role in the family is probably now. You're young to have to do this, but your Mum clearly needs help, and I don't really see who else is going to do it. Can you contact the education welfare people and arrange a sit-down meeting with your Mum and sister, where you talk about the issues around your sister's attendance? It may do your sister good as well as your Mum to understand that there are consequences to this. Good luck.
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