School refuser- Help.....(15 Posts)
DD 15 is point blank refusing school and I have no idea what to do. She is at risk of exclusion from school and struggles with academic work, she has ADHD and has a very limited concentration which in turn means she is 4-5 years below expected levels at her age. Due to this she can be very defensive and oppositional at school to avoid work. It's always been a battle getting her into school and her attendance is 80%. Since half term she has point blank refused to go in, during half term she fell out with her friendship group who have been busy poisoning most of DDs year on her. She has no friends from her school at the moment and is very fearful of going in and sitting alone whilst everyone is talking about her and any conversation about it leads to tears shouting and then leaving the house. I took her to the GP for advice and didn't really get any, we have camhs next week but what do I do in the mean time ?!
Realistically? For the time being try to keep things relaxed and calm and positive at home. She needs a safe space where she can feel OK about herself no matter what's happening at school. Don't waste effort trying to change her mind about school at this stage.
I haven't had to deal with school refusal as such but I've had other anxiety-related nasties to deal with in school (think exclusions and count my grey hairs....) Staying calm and positive and supportive wins in the long run.
Maybe also have a look at pathological demand avoidance (PDA) It usually comes under autism spectrum not ADHD but the management strategies are different from other autism strategies and they can work for other kids who are generally anxious and avoidant. A good resource for this is The Explosive Child - even if she isn't throwing tempers she may need some of the same kind of support.
for you and your DD and I hope your DD gets the support she needs quickly.
Thank you , DD has suspected asd but refuses assessment, I have looked at PDA and thought it's so her(bar the imaginative play) but they don't diagnose in this area. DD has also had fixed term exclusions and hasn't gone back since the last one as she can't see what she did was wrong and refuses to act sorry. The friends fall out has led to the complete refusal previously I could coax her in very reluctantly!
Why doesn't she want to go?
I was school-phobic around this age - my parents split up which really distressed me, then not long after I also fell out with my friendship group.... i also have ADHD (although not diagnosed to adulthood). Those years were the most stressful and upsetting of my life and I ended up self-harming, with an eating disorder, band started drinking.... Didn't get back on track till my early thirties. Please don't underestimate or dismiss (even with the best intentions) teen emotions....
Have you and DD sought professional advice or counseling? Is home schooling an option??
Best wishes to you both....
Btw aggression and faux apathy or contempt is often used by teens as a defensive to mask more vulnerable emotions ime...... I was a Very angry and obstructive teen to onlookers but was inconsolable in the privacy of my room most nights...
From the circumstances you describe inside school I wouldn't want to go either! Do you have a school refusal problem or a bullying problem? Would she consider changing schools? I always recommend using a helpline such as Young Minds' parents helpline really good advice:
I think a bit of both her friendships have always been very fragile and up and down. Seems to be they push one person out at a time, make their life hell then they are back in favour and it's someone else's "turn". There are many reasons she doesn't want to go in 1) the friendship drama 2) she doesn't thrive at school 3) she's very close to exclusion we have a meeting on 16th about whether she'll go to local PRU or stay there 4) she's not sorry for the reason she was excluded before half term and won't attend the reintergration meeting . I received a rather scary letter last week regarding her attendance "you have a legal obligation under the XYZ act to ensure your DD has adequate education , your failing to do so" . She does mask her emotions a lot an always shows anger , she's very much of the mindset that attack is the best form of defence.
Out of curiosity what is it she did that she won't say sorry for for last exclusion?
On the other issues I can understand her refusal to go tbh - school is not for everyone (particularly with the 'one size fits all' approach to education favoured by this government but that's a whole other thread) and if she's not doing well academically, combined with the fact that probably in her mind she's old enough to've been about to leave back in the day, she will be struggling to understand the benefit of going - particularly if she is so miserable there as well... Is she interested in any technical college courses for next year? It may be possible to see the minimum gcse entry requirements for her two preferred courses and focus on studying for those and taking the exams externally?
No point at this stage changing schools IMO - too late in her education for someone already uninspired by the system, and the upheaval would totally go against her.... If I were you I would totally change tack here and focus not on getting her back into school but on getting her interested in her education and excited about potential career prospects.... It may well be by respecting her thoughts on the subject you will get her onside, progressing, and maybe even opening up.
At any rate you won't be butting heads so much!
Thank you eekkkk I really want to take this route but am under increasing pressure to get her into education or face fine or worse . The education system has really not worked for her at all and I do understand her frustrations but there is a lack of sympathy from education, if I were predicted 6 Us I doubt I'd feel really motivated and inspired ! The course she wants to do hair and beauty requires 4 a-cs (it's just changed to this and no way around it they said they will not take her without no chance of budging) and for DD that's just not achievable so she'll probably have to do some form of prep for working life /access course first, oh and be made to do maths and English over and over again! She was excluded for telling a teacher to "shut up" , her and said teacher do not get on at all and become embroiled in a battle of wills in nearly every lesson.
Sometimes PRUs are helpful, it might be worth looking round? But do try Young Minds they are used to dealing with things like this and might have some new strategies. I agree on not changing schools if she is that close to exclusion.
Ask camhs if you qualify for tier three funding. I had an ASD school refuser for year 9/10, now doing year 11 with council funded tuition but we have to attend CAMHS to qualify. Which is difficult. If we hadn't gone this route this would have been another year of refusal.
OK so if I were you, here is what I would do (in theory, obviously):
- Tell DD you understand her issue with school and will support her POV, As Long as she understands that she Must continue her education in some way - preferably via a vocational course of her choosing - and that the two of you (she definitely needs to be involved in this part herself to feel ownership of the project) have to sit down and go through all the options for accessing various higher education facilities (I have been researching this a bit - yes I fully admit I am over invested as I feel your daughter is v.similar to how I was at her age! - and different facilities have different requirements... your DD is Absolutely not alone in note being suited to GCSEs!)
- get behind your DD with the LEA and reassure them that you have Every intention of ensuring your child continues her education - as does she - but that she is finding the school environment and learning structure incredibly stressful and counter-productive and that they need to help you both find a solution. You are not ignoring the situation but You simply cannot force your daughter to endure a such a traumatic environment and need their help in finding an alternative.
See what they say?!
I love the idea of funded tuition but will there be time if getting a cahms referral is so complicated?
With her problems school must be a really crap place to be - I do not blame her for not wanting to go! Home ed for a bit?
Thanks so much for your helpful replies, i managed to see camhs today and her doctor is writing to the school which will ease pressure and suggest PRU as she is adamant she is not going back. The LA have to fund as it's a behaviour PRU and costs 30,000 a year so hoping she is passed on the panel next week for funding. As much as I like the idea of home ed she would do no work and admitted so herself it would just end up in us battling every day!
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