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SCHOOL REFUSAL

(15 Posts)
ChowNowBrownCow Mon 04-Jan-16 15:35:13

My ds is refusing to go to school. He is yr 5. He has had years of being bullied at school by other kids and even teaching assistants making nasty comments about him. A couple of months ago his teacher physically stopped him from leaving the classroom because he did not say goodbye with the rest of the class at hometime. The teacher put his arm accross the doorway and then held onto him by his shoulder/neck. this resulted in him saying a gruff goodbye so that the teacher let go. The teacher was suspended whilst an in house investigation took place. Miraculously the ta did not see or hear anything. The teacher has admitted to holding onto his elbow for too long but not to holding onto his shoulder/neck. I took a photo of the red marks on his neck and shoulder. school and la have refused to look at the picture which is date and time stamped. they are eager to just move on and get the teacher along with other staff to attend a handling course. To them, its job done and finished. Teacher is now back in school. My ds has refused to go to school and is scared of him for two reasons, 1) he is scared he (the teacher) will hurt him again and 2) he knows the teacher has lied about what happened. We also have lost trust in the school as they have never listened to us when we say this or that and we want ds to be safe and FEEL safe, which he does not.
In the meantime we have been given a draft EHCP, which was due to be finalised end of December. This is woolly and may take some time batting backwards and forwards getting the wording right, which will make things take even longer. We want ds to go to a special school where hopefully he will be understood and not be man handled. He has now been off school due to stress and anxiety for weeks and I am not sure what to do. Friends have said don't take him off the school roll as this is what the LA want us to do. So I keep saying to the school he is too anxious to return. In reality getting him into a special school could take months and possibly tribunal. Does anyone have any suggestions or experience of their child refusing to go to school and also yourself not wanting them to return there? What are the possible options? thanks in advance.

Ineedmorepatience Mon 04-Jan-16 16:56:12

Firstly try not to call it "School refusal" a refusal is a behaviour and schools can easily misinterpret the iasues and blame you or your Ds!

You could try to get your GP or CAMHS to sign him off with anxiety, while you sort out a new school for him, or you could phone in everyday and say he is too anxious to attend!

You could try calling a meeting with the LA and school and tell them that you dont want to send him back until the EHCP is completed in a satifactory way and that you are looking at alternative provision!

Thats pretty much what we did! My GP refused to sign Dd3 off because he said my word should be enough!

I text the same message on C &P everyday for 6 weeks in the last half term of last yr to say she was too anxious to attend!

School left us alone because they knew they had fucked up!

Good luck flowers

shazzarooney99 Mon 04-Jan-16 16:58:46

I just wonder how the teacher could hold one arm across the doorway, and then hold his shoulder and neck at the same time as well as holding his elbow? is this teacher an octopus?

If your child is anything like mine sometimes the truth comes out but wrong but he will swear black is white that what he is saying is the truth.

My son is anxious about school but i have been taking him in, we do use a visual chart so he can work towards his xbox if he has gone into school ok.

I would quite happily take my son out of school but then i know what he is like, he would want to be back there.

Sorry if my post sounds harsh i dont want it too, teachers get a real rough time and do get false allegations and do lose their jobs because of these.

ruthsmaoui77 Mon 04-Jan-16 17:03:29

I would say go with your gut instinct. some teachers can be awful! My ds was really frightened of his Year 2 teacher, she would shout in his face but never actually laid a hand on him. She refused to accept he had any additional needs (this was before diagnosis) and insisted that he was just naughty. That was a horrible year and it really affected my son's self esteem. Like you I let my son stay home quite a bit as he just couldn't take her disapproval of him. He survived the year and hasn't has a teacher as bad since. He is in Year 5 now also. If you don't trust the teacher to treat him fairly then listen to that. I don't know how this will work out long term though. Good luck with the EHCP and the special school xx.

Runningtokeepstill Mon 04-Jan-16 17:10:18

My ds was signed off at times by a Paediatrician and at times by his GP. I'd try to get someone "official" on your side to state that he is too anxious to attend as otherwise schools tend to send standard format threatening letters out (our LA uses one that implies the parents have had no previous contact with school and that there are no pre-existing issues). These are a box ticking exercise for many schools but due to the unfortunate wording of most of the standard ones I've seen, they tend to ratchet up negative feelings and make calm liaison with the school more difficult.

I don't know how you currently contact school to say that your ds isn't coming in but if email is an option I'd go for that every time. Or if you have to phone in (more common in primary schools, I suspect) then I'd be tempted to send some covering emails eg on Friday say "young Chow hasn't been in all week due to severe anxiety as reported in my daily phone calls to the absence line" so that you can keep a paper trail. Any time I've not had written records of what I've said and done, I've found I really could have done with it.

And I agree with Ineed that it isn't refusal. Perhaps we need a campaign to relabel this. All the dc I've known who were " school refusal" were all deeply anxious.

pannetone Mon 04-Jan-16 17:19:03

What an awful situation for your DS - and you ChowNow sad. I don't have experience of your situation but I do have a DS and a DD who have been too anxious to attend school -as you say your DS is.('Too anxious to attend' is a much better term than 'school refusal' which you gave as your thread title - it says what the issue is rather than just describing the behaviour.)

I agree that you shouldn't take DS off the school roll. Will the EHCP state that DS should attend a special school? The fact that he's currently unable to attend his MS school should add weight to the fact that he needs a special school. It is all very well the staff now attending a handling course but the result of their lack of knowledge to meet your DS's needs is that he can't currently attend.

My DD (then Y4) was out of school (or more accurately the classroom - she was going in for an hour a day with me for a session with a TA in a separate room) for about 5 months. Before DD stopped attending we had asked for her to be assessed for a statement. The LA refused but once DD wasn't in school the LA had to admit the school wasn't meeting need. Originally we had wanted more TA support for DD but it became apparent she wasn't going to go back into the classroom and she is now at a special school named on her statement.

Is there any TA that could work with your DS to try to get him back into school? Though I have to say I can't see it working if DS has to go back to that teacher's class.

My DS became too anxious to attend his secondary school after the first term of Y7. It took a long time but he eventually got home tuition from the LA once CAMHS had seen him and said he was medically unfit to attend.Is your DS being seen by CAMHS?

pannetone Mon 04-Jan-16 17:23:02

I am slow at typing - cross posted with lots of others especially about 'too anxious to attend' rather than 'school refusal' smile!

ruthsmaoui77 Mon 04-Jan-16 17:24:21

Shazzarooney99, whilst I accept that children can exaggerate you cannot fake red marks on his neck! Sadly some teachers really do not know how to support SEN children and can be very harsh. I have witnessed this myself and not just with my own sons. There are still teachers who simply refuse to accept that autism / adhd, etc are real conditions and not just a result of 'poor parenting'. Then again it is not always the teacher's fault, after all they are human too and have pressures like anyone else - sometimes there is not enough TA support in the classroom and they lose it, but this does make it right. My sons have had some fantastic teachers who I admire and have been so grateful too, they have only had 1 teacher who I have had real concerns about. I would be very concerned if my child had red marks on his neck and then was too scared to go to school. It's such a nightmare situation - no parent wants to raise concerns like these about their child's teacher - every wants to have a good relationship with school as this is what is best for the child. What a horrible situation to be in, OP you have my deepest sympathies.

ChowNowBrownCow Mon 04-Jan-16 20:20:52

Thank you all for your replies.
Shazza- my ds has not lied or made a false allegation. Everything happened as he said and over 6 weeks he has never changed his story, not even slightly. He repeated it to me - his dad - the gp - and cahms. All of us asked questions but made sure no words were put into his mouth. This is a serious allegation and therefore the utmost care has been taken to get the truth. I have asked the LA for a transcript of the LA investigating officers interview with the teacher and ta. They have 40 days to provide it under the data protection act.
Daily talks with the teacher where he meets me in the play ground show that he cannot understand ds. He wants ds the square peg to fit into the round hole- from convos with him he was getting very frustrated with ds. I understand that. That's a major reason why I applied for an ehcp, things have been going from bad to worse. What is not acceptable is him using force and restraining him, therfore marking him. There was no possible reason he needed to do that to him. Ds anxiety is through the roof and this has been escalated because of this teachers actions. I have no interest in what happens to the teacher - only my ds!
I think I will take the advice from here and not call it school refusal - but to anxious to go to school. I will speak to the gp and explain again why ds is off school - though he cannot produce a sick cert for a child, but at least it will be on record officially. Cahms too. For the record - I hate this situation as I believe ds needs to be at school! But in all honesty it goes against my gut instinct to send him back there as there has been a catalogue of things that have happened and I kept on sending him in and saying - don't worry its all been sorted out, only to find it hasn't! I'm going to get further information regarding him having a home tutor or something like that through the LA at least til his ehcp is final. I may contact some home ed groups to as I don't want ds to be isolated. It's made me really sad even typing this - I never invision ed this sad.

Dipankrispaneven Mon 04-Jan-16 22:21:14

If the doctor will sign him off you have a strong case for home tuition. Make sure that it is more than the minimum 5 hours a week that LAs tend to offer.

If I were you I wouldn't waste too much time trying to negotiate about the EHCP: the chances are they aren't going to do what you want anyway. If they were due to complete this by the end of December, remind them of that and say you want it by the end of this week failing which you will have to take judicial review proceedings in your child's name. If that doesn't work, contact SOS SEN to get them to do a formal pre-action letter.

AgnesDiPesto Mon 04-Jan-16 23:02:13

I would ask now for home tuition until such time as EHCP is finalised and a suitable school identified. Put this request in writing to LA.

It would be better if absence was medically signed off, but even if it's not they should take the views of the child into account. His views are that he has lost trust in school and the teacher and wants a fresh start elsewhere. Due to his anxiety (& poss rigidity?) associated with his condition he is not likely to shift his view. Has Camhs recorded this as his views or will they?
Home tuition isn't just for children with medical needs the LA should also step in if a child would not otherwise be receiving education for a period (s19 Ed Act).

The LA will probably try and tell you it's the schools responsibility to pay for alt ed as he is still on roll but it has legal duties too where a school is not doing this.

I would ask the LA to involve the person in charge of alt education / children out of school - it should have a policy of what to do when children are out of school. You can also report it to the education welfare officer.

You can make a formal complaint to LA about lack of education under s19 (once you have alerted them and given chance to sort it out) and can take this to Local Govt Ombudsman if LA doesn't offer anything.

I don't think you need to get into a blame situation too much - you and he have lost trust and reality is he won't go back to that school, the LA need to take this situation on board and put an alternative (tuition or PRU or diff school) in place so he doesn't lose further education whatever the outcome of EHCP.

You can also ask him to be placed in special school as emergency measure without EHCP

I'd try and sit down with LA and go over interim options but read up on s.19 first. The LA should not be leaving him with no education.

If the LA believe he can go back to this school then they can put measures in place themselves eg send a TA or social worker to the house to help you get him there in morning / assess his anxiety. Or they can prosecute you for non attendance - what they can't do is just let him sit at home with no education they should be doing something.

If LA try and fob you off just make an immediate complaint thru corporate complaint process - you can usually do this on website.

ChowNowBrownCow Tue 05-Jan-16 09:20:31

Great advice Agnes and dip - some times I just need someone to break things down into smaller chunks! Otherwise it looks overwhelming iykwim. School sent an email today (first one since ds been off) asking when he's coming back. I will reply with a well thought out response soon.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 05-Jan-16 10:25:56

Getting the absence recorded as authorised and LA home tuition are two different things.

The school has discretion and must accept the word of the parents with regard to 'illness' (including anxiety) and should only seek medical certification if they have reason not to believe the parent's account. Therefore ignore any nonsense about 'having to' record the absence as unauthorised. This potentially leads to involvement from the Education Welfare Officer and the LA will prosecute parents who fail to send their children to m/s school.

ime A GP is not able to provide certification and the LA EOTAS team will only accept medical certification from a hospital doctor. They delay - a lot. The law says that a child is entitled to a full-time education after 15 days absence. In reality it will take months. They are never available when you phone and ignore emails. At the end of that you will get a bog standard non-SEN tutor for 5 hours a week. This is not done on one day. No, it is split over 3 days. The tutors are most likely (especially where there is disagreement on whether m/s or ss is needed and forthcoming tribunal) essentially spies for the LA and will report back on you to the SEN team. It is a 'strain' having the LA in your house 3 days a week on the run-up to tribunal (understatement of the year). The tutor will also provide witness statements at the hearing (for the LA).

One delightful tutor held a meeting about me (without me) with the EWO where she reported that I was very negative, did not have DS1's best interests at heart and wanted ss at all costs despite the fact that this was completely unnecessary and just plain wrong.

I hated the constant attempts to get him into the local PRU - the last one was that the science curriculum involved studying the food chain and, to show that I was not negative and had DS1's best interests at heart, I should therefore drive him 10 miles during the next lesson to the local petting animal sanctuary place that just happened to be next to the PRU on the basis that this was the only place that had an albino marmoset. Where the fuck do albino marmosets fit into the food chain??

A lot of LA's will always go to tribunal where the parental preference is for ss (especially indi). Finalise and Appeal. You would have a very strong case at Tribunal. DS1 was placed in indi ss following Tribunal but was out of school for months beforehand. Nearly all the DC won the place at Hearing after months of being unable to attend.

I wish I could say all was now well. DS1 is out of school again and says he will never return. He hated the ss. He last attended in January 2015 and we had our first LA tutor visit mid-November following threat of official complaint.

You can PM me if you think I could help smile

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 05-Jan-16 10:48:48

Oh, forgot to say, the LA EOTAS team leader sat at the next desk to DS1's SEN case worker - just on the other side to (what was) Parent Partnership. Cosy.

Waitingforsherlock Wed 06-Jan-16 13:57:01

KeepOnKeeping that sounds awful. My dd stopped attending school last Easter and I phoned the LA to tell then what was going on, ( she was in a prep school at the time). After a one hour phone call I have never been contacted again despite the school's SENCo also contacting the LA, ( as she felt that we needed a visit confused). Dd is now registered at InterHigh and I hope that this is sufficient if the LA ever come calling. CAMHS kept suggesting a ' tuition unit', which I wasn't ever sure about and nor was dd. I don't know if they meant a PRU or not, but it sounded as if she could have been placed somewhere on the other side of the county. This seems to be the only thing available other than MS and has been put forward as a halfway house if dd ever decides to try to go back to school.

The lack of support is astonishing as is the lack of understanding for parents and kids going through this.

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