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Local authority and school refusal

(33 Posts)
Skylar123 Tue 04-Feb-14 13:32:03

I have been told by a professional to contact our local authority with regard to my Ds school refusal which is now getting serious. Requesting they get involved. Any thoughts on what they may or may not be able to offer , is this a good idea? Has anyone else already done this? Thanks in advance for any possible replies.

wetaugust Tue 04-Feb-14 13:48:27


I wish you would stop calling it school refusal

I expect that's a term you learnt from school or the LA.

By using that term you really are doing your DS a disservice.

School refuse implies that there is a nice safe cosy school for your DS to attend that will meet all his needs and that any child who doesn't want to go to this wonderful school is wilfully and stubbornly refusing to do so.

Is that the sort of schoo, your DS is refusing to go to?

Or is it a school that struggles to meet his needs and where you DS feels very unsafe, anxious and frightened to attend?

Because if it is the latter then he's actually very sensible to refuse to attend a school that cannot meet his needs and which scares him.

But of course by using the school refusal term you are just placing the blame for not wanting to go to a crappy school firmly on his shoulders, when the fault is actually the people within the school that have failed to recognise and acknowledge his difficulties and to adapt his school into a place where he wants to learn and feel safe in attending.

Does he have a Statement - if not apply for one.

Has he seen an Ed Pysch - if not ring the Ed Pysch Dept and request a meeting.

Have you asked you GP for a CAMHS referral?

The LA can offer you nothing as responsibility is devolved to schools.

School has already let your DS down by failing to do anything to prevent the current situation.

A Statement is the best way ahead.

Skylar123 Tue 04-Feb-14 13:53:28

Thanks for the telly off I needed it. You are right and from now on I will try not to say it, didn't like it anyway.

Ok it's not Ds's fault it's the schools. I need to get tougher if I am going to win this battle.

Yes to camhs - appointment in march
Applying for SA this week

How do I call to speak to ed pyschologist - is that through local council.

Should I not wait until I get the SA agreed as the ed physc will come in then won't he/she?


Skylar123 Tue 04-Feb-14 13:55:28

And I just sent a letter to school, a very nice one , asking them what they are going to do about Ds not being able to come to school and I referred to it as school refusal, damn it!

wetaugust Tue 04-Feb-14 14:03:01

Arghh - it's a shame you agreed it was school refusal in the letter - never mind, just don't do it again grin

It's term that's used nationwide so I expect it's some garbage that is taught during teacher training - after all the delusional sods think they are providing such wonderful schools that how could any child refuse but to be there angry

Actually asking school what they intend to do is a very good move - keep at them for a response.

Get the request in immediately - obviosuly replacing 'school refusal' with 'DS's current educational placement cannot support his needs, and consequently he is so anxious that he is unable to access education'.

Ed Pysch can wait until the statutory assessment. But they are a service paid from council tax and you can just pick up the phone cand call them should you need to.

Skylar123 Tue 04-Feb-14 14:33:46

Thanks wet and I did put in very similar wording in my letter to sch as per your para 3 . smile

ouryve Tue 04-Feb-14 14:43:33

It's quite surprising how easy it is to overlook subtleties in wording. I have recent reports for DS1 from EP and OT. Both with a lot to say about the problems he has in school. The big difference is that the EP's language is all "won't" while the OT's language is "can't". I will admit that i do have the term "school refusal" in mind for DS1, even though I'm acutely aware that there's a lot of "can't" and where there is "won't" there is a reason for it.

Skylar123 Tue 04-Feb-14 14:58:38

Interesting ouryve

I've just had a phone call from school office about my letter to senco with regards to 'school refusal' how they are going to help to get him into school and how they are going to help with ds's stress and anxiety in school when he is there. I also asked to know exactly what help is currently being provided academic and social communication wise, who is providing it, how, when, etc.
I think they are getting tired of answering my questions and I have been directed to mention all in class parents consultations next week, which is a 10 min slot and also we will be reviewing IEP then too . I think they have just fobbed me off. I want a draft plan of action and for his needs to be met. Is that too much to ask? My Ds is missing school I am having to drag him in kicking and crying.

LilTreacle Tue 04-Feb-14 16:10:40

Sounds like you are doing all the right things, and no its not too much to ask.

The wording of school refusal is an interesting one to bring up......I shall remember that too.

I reworded my letter to LA and school regarding DS behaviour for annual review as distressed rather than 'challenging', as it was pointed out to me that challenging implies deliberate choice rather than reactive fight/flight/freeze response.

I dont have any great advice as my DS has a statement, is at a school doing an awful lot to help him but his anxiety is getting the better of him and is doing everything he can to try and not be in that situation (resists calling it school refusal).

ouryve Tue 04-Feb-14 16:15:07

I wonder if it would be worth contacting your local EWO (yes, I know, not my favourite service) and asking if there are any services you can access that would help your DS, in terms of inclusion - or failing that, see for themselves that there are unmet needs which are making school inaccessible for him.

wetaugust Tue 04-Feb-14 16:16:30

School refusal is sometging that I bang on about constantly on here. hate, hate , hate this 'blame-the-child' term.

Skylar - another of their tactics is to ring you, rather than put anything in writing.

At this stage I would ask to see the Head. Your DS should have an IEP and there should be a plan in place to identufy what he needs to get back into school and, more importantly, to keep him there.

Sorry - yes, you are being fobbed off - we all experience this.

Skylar123 Tue 04-Feb-14 16:42:38

I must chose my words more carefully.

I have the name and contact number of the lady In charge of attendance at Ds school. Is that the EWO?

Thanks all for your replies - always helpful smile

I can't wait for the battle to begin again tomorrow morning.

wetaugust Tue 04-Feb-14 16:45:13

Could be.

That's the problem when they think the child is just choosing not to bother going to school - they involve the EWO.

But if your child is too unwell to go to school i.e. their anxiety at being there overwhelms them, then it's a medical issue and the EWO doesn't get involved.

ladyrainy Tue 04-Feb-14 17:06:48

I totally agree with what's already been said.
I would also add that it may be useful to get an assessment done by a sensory OT to try to identify any triggers.

Skylar123 Tue 04-Feb-14 17:20:32

wet I think I will stay away from EWO for now.

ladyrainy it's funny as no sensory issues have ever been highlighted at sch and tbh I haven't noticed any either. Although Ds always does a lot of radiator and window licking, not sure if that is a sensory thing. He has always hated very loud noises and fireworks etc. However recently he has complained dinning room at sch is too noisy for him and he can't eat his lunch there, so much so that he wants to have lunch at home and I think this is playing a big part of him not wanting to go to sch. He always tells me the playground is too busy and loud. Should I do this privately as I would be very interested to know the scale of any sensory issues as I think they may have been overlooked until now. How would I go about this, is a private assessment ok to do, I'm sick of waiting months on end. He is going to an OT for fine motor skills in April, nhs referral.

nennypops Tue 04-Feb-14 17:23:15

Would anyone like your GP certify that DS can't be in school for medical reasons, i.e. presumably severe anxiety and related problems? If so, you could start pushing for home tuition as an interim measure before finding a school able to meet his needs.

ladyrainy Tue 04-Feb-14 17:23:27

They all sound like sensory issues skylar! <disclaimer -I'm no OT but I have a ds with SPD!>

If I was you I'd get an assessment ASAP if you can afford it.

wetaugust Tue 04-Feb-14 17:34:24

All those things you described are sensory issues Skylar. MY DS with ASD has them all.

Ineedmorepatience Tue 04-Feb-14 17:39:43

I am another one guilty of using the phrase "school refusal" I hang my head in shame blush

I am going to try really hard to say "Unable to access school due to anxiety" from now on.

Thanks wet for making me think. I have also been advised to ask the school to list the strategies that they are using with Dd3 and what impact they are having!

We have been refused a SA on the grounds that Dd3's need can be met at SA+, I disagree obviously and now need school to tell me how this amazing SA+ package is going to work!

Good luck skylar

pannetone Tue 04-Feb-14 17:43:07

Hmmm. Lots of food for thought there. I am also guilty of sometimes using the term 'school refusal' on here 'as shorthand' because you lot know that 'refusal' is when needs are not met, but certainly not to any professionals - I am getting enough flack that my parenting/discipline are at fault already.

I have both DS(y7) and DD(y4) unable to attend school since more or less the start of this term. Both HFA, anxiety and in DD's case selective mutism. I am about to appeal refusal to assess for DD and will be putting in a request for DS.

Coincidentally I just followed ouryve's advice about ringing the EWO. But office closed. I am pretty mad with DD's school. I have just filled out a CAF form and the Head put in a plan as a 'desired outcome' to get DD re-integrated into school which he said would invole a gradual re intoduction with DD spending time with a TA DD gets on with,though can't speak to her much. (Background is that the relationship between DD and the TA who used to work with her broke down as that TA kept putting pressure on her to communicate which is entirely the wrong approach for SM and primarily that is why DD stopped going to school)

Got an email from the Head today to say the support amounts to that TA (who usually works in Y2) meeting DD at 0845 and being with her for 15 minutes. The TA is voluntarily giving her time to do this. After that no more support because the TA is 'fully committed' with other groups. I have already told the head that I won't be able to get DD there at 0845 because of her anxiety levels. She is not getting to sleep til about 11pm and it takes ages to try to get her out of bed and dressed in the mornings like skylar is finding with her DS. But Head says getting her in at 0845 is 'reasonable' angry - it is quite apparent that Head sees DD as 'wilful' rather than anxious. I think the Head is refusing to give DD TA time because we 'rejected' the one DD had - but all along we were told that this was the only TA available to help DD because she was also the class TA - no question of suitability considered. And the Head keeps talking about other children losing out if 'new' TA has spends time with DD. DD isn't even able to be in school!

Sorry rant over. BTW we did have the EWO appear at the house to check up on DS - and his school knew he was off with anxiety. Now I've spoken to him there and explained the situation we've had no more contact.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 04-Feb-14 18:37:02

To be fair, from a psychological perspective, the term 'school refusal' is accepted to represent a whole variety of things. HOWEVER, as Wet says, in the minds of the LA, they will try and depict this as manipulative child not wanting to go to lovely school and parents too weak to do anything about this.

I have had a very similar situation with my son who was out of school from May to December last year with no support from the LA even though all the people in his life, including his school, said school was not the right place for him.

With CAMHS, I think it depends on their experience. They seem particularly poor with autism and were not even willing to confirm the psychologist's experience of the condition to me.

we now have an out of school package but it was very hard won and always in danger of being snatched away as LAs like schools no matter the financial cost or cost to the child.

wetaugust Tue 04-Feb-14 20:21:02

It's a term that we should not use. It's an LA term designed to shift blame away from the school and onto the child and the parent.

I used to jump into threads where I saw it being used to say - please think before using this term.

It was so very obvious that it wasn't a term that the parent themselves had come up with - it was pure LA-speak.

They tried it on with me too when DS was too ill to attend school - I fely very sorry for the 'professional' who got an earful from me for using that derogatory term when describing my son's overwhelming anxiety at the thought of going to a place where he was physically assaulted angry

I really am not over my hatred of the LA and dislike of teachers am I?

Guess I never will be.

Skylar123 Tue 04-Feb-14 22:07:33

Thanks nennypops I could approach gp however I think I want him in school, or is that me being very selfish. What if I never got him back to school and was refused statement.

He is very enthusiastic to learn but just not in school.

ladyrainy & wet do you think they are sensory issues, my goodness no wonder the poor child is suffering no one has picked up on it until I have recently through only by what he was telling me. The autism outreach lady said that she didn't witness any sensory issues when she observed him. She is coming back next month to re- observe.

How do I get an assessment done, I can use the Dla .

ineedmore we can hang our heads in shame together lol*

Sch senco said to me that perhaps their sch isn't the right one for Ds after I mentioned applying for SA. They might want the statement to be accepted so we can get the hell out of there by naming a more suitable school and getting a place . Pipe dreams.

I'm upset that the school arnt even bothered Ds isn't coming in and is missing half a day most days. They haven't even called me to see if everything is alright. The head is a very scary controlling woman and she won't like Ds messing up her attendance stats. Did I say already that when he had to be forced into sch by three teachers last week she came out after I had left and dragged him in telling him it wasn't funny sat him in get office and told him to turn his head around she didn't want to look at him . How sympathetic of her.

I'm interested to know how I can get in touch with a sensory OT. Can anyone help.

Skylar123 Tue 04-Feb-14 22:08:33

Forgot to say thanks for your comments everybody really helpful wishing you those of you that are appealing your SA refusal much luck .

wetaugust Tue 04-Feb-14 23:04:14

Although Ds always does a lot of radiator and window licking, not sure if that is a sensory thing. He has always hated very loud noises and fireworks etc. However recently he has complained dinning room at sch is too noisy for him and he can't eat his lunch there, so much so that he wants to have lunch at home and I think this is playing a big part of him not wanting to go to sch. He always tells me the playground is too busy and loud. Should I do this privately as I would be very interested to know the scale of any sensory issues as I think they may have been overlooked until now. How would I go about this, is a private assessment ok to do, I'm sick of waiting months on end. He is going to an OT for fine motor skills in April, nhs referral.

How on earth could they witness all the above and say 'no sensory issues'. Everything you've described is a sensory issue. In DS's dx it's called hypersensitivity. Coupled with motor skills difficulties and you've got 2 of the 5 diagnostic criteria already.

Schools overlook things because identification must lead to assessment and assessment results in support and support costs them money. Autism outreach are just teachers who know a bit about ASD - enough to save their LAs the cost of specialist support. Get armed with a copy of Tony Attwood's Aspergers Syndrome - A guide for parents and professionals. Learn about it and challenge the 'professionals'

I would start a new thread asking about private dx. They talk about Daphne Keen on here but I have no experience with her. The NAS keep a Directory of Diagnostic Services.

I'd just get the SA request in asap.

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