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My son won't go to school.. im in shit for it
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Notoschool · 25/01/2022 10:31

My son is 14. He's been refusing school since around September. He's probably been 5 or 6 times since. He gives lots of different reasons such as he does not like the teacher . Or he feels anxious in the class. He hates the lesson. His reasons seem to change.

He has been self harming by cutting himself. He's been offered counselling at school.but as hes not going to school that's not happening. We have asked for help from camhs that was refused. So we have appealed. We found another counselling/support service for young people they are giving him 3 sessions. And that ends. As they are reducing their services. At the moment we have some support from early help but apparently that comes to a close in around 3 weeks.

My son has been very aggressive to the point he scares me. He's done things like smash up the doors in the house put holes in a partition wall. He's also verbally aggressive.

Recently the school offered him part time time table. To start at 11.15 . He agreed with this . Apart from the Monday where he wanted to start at lunchtime. The school refused this . But I really stood up for ds . As I thought this was better than not going at all. I agree its not right but surely a step in the right direction. His body language had changed and his tone. I really thought he was going to do it . So he went to school on the Friday. Come Monday He's refusing again I actually agued his point with the school so now it's made me look really bad and now he's made it impossible for me to have any valued say in a meeting that's going to happen in a few days.

Hes always asking for money to top his phone up. For food when he's out. Or just general things that teens often want . He wanted money Friday. I said once I know your at school I will transfer you money. Then on Tuesday as long as you have been to school on the Monday and Tuesday. I will top up your phone. But he did not stick to this agreement. So I have not topped up his phone. He told me how selfish I am . And said to me things like: "you only have to do a simple thing. It's like you want me to cut." He has said several similar things.

I'm actually frightened that because I'm refusing to give him money or top up his phone he's going to become very aggressive later on.

The school have told me there is going to be a meeting the local authorities will be there. I have been told I can get a large fine. Could get a tag or even go to prison . My son has told me he does not care. I'm told the law says its my responsibility to get him to school but no one can actually tell me how I can get him in school. He's 14 and 6ft tall I can't physically get him there.

I'm really scared of this whole situation. But I feel totally trapped in the situation and don't know what to do. My son just won't engage.

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Magissa · 25/01/2022 10:38

Has anyone tried to find out why he is refusing to go to school? What issues have there been leading up to the point when he started refusing? Did he attend regularly before?

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Magissa · 25/01/2022 10:40

By anyone I mean in school - pastoral manager, head of year or someone...

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StepAwayFromGoogling · 25/01/2022 10:40

You do sound like you've been enabling his behaviour. Surely you shove him out the door with his achool clothes and tell him to get to school? You don't let him loaf about in the house all day. And you've still been giving him money to go out and top up his phone? So what have the consequences for him not going to school been up to now?

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SniffMyFeet · 25/01/2022 10:43

Not much help at the moment but I know many, many parents who went through this and the children have grown into wonderful adults
Go to the meeting, listen to what they have to say and tell them honestly how this is all impacting on you and your family
You need support not beaten with a stick
Does your son understand that if you get a fine there'll be no money for extras like food out and top ups?
Is there any subjects he particularly likes? An adult he gets on with so he can 'check in' every time he attends
Any aggression call the police, you mustn't comprimise your safety

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Longcovid21 · 25/01/2022 10:45

This

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Notoschool · 25/01/2022 10:47

@Magissa

Has anyone tried to find out why he is refusing to go to school? What issues have there been leading up to the point when he started refusing? Did he attend regularly before?

He keeps giving different reasons. He used to go onto school. During the 1st lock down he refused to do any work. He went back to school after lock down seemed OK. Then in September my daughter had to stay of school due to covid. She had it but was not actually ill. He refused to go when she was not at school. We thought maybe once she was back at school he would as well. But he has not. We are trying to get him help. But there are cut backs and long waiting times. And then appealing camhs rejection.
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Mischance · 25/01/2022 10:52

There is clearly a problem in school - this needs sorting and you need to badger the school (and the governors) until someone accepts that they need to take action.

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lilikiki · 25/01/2022 10:53

I have been through this and I’m really sorry. Honestly, worse period of my life so you have my sympathies.

I remember constantly asking them, like you, what do I do to get him there? He’s bigger and stronger than me. They just repeat back “it’s your responsibility to have him in school”. Really was difficult. Hopefully they won’t actually continue with the action and it’s simply a log that they’ve said this to you (I think that’s what happened with me).

I unfortunately did continue giving my son money as angry as it made me. But I just thought he was quite vulnerable and clearly angry and didn’t want him trying to make money by other means and getting himself into an even bigger mess or being preyed on by people.

From the other end, my situation sort of resolved itself because he went somewhere else instead and they threatened but never actually pursued anything. Though it was without a doubt, the most stressful time of my life.

On another note and I don’t know how useful you will find this - they do get better. About 16/17 you’ll see glimmers of hope. I know it’s know consolation now. And I also hated hearing that from others because I always felt “but what if mine doesn’t!!” and well, mine is now working a full time job and turns up at 8:30am to work. If you’d told me he’d be doing that 2 years ago I genuinely thought you were mocking me.

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Embracelife · 25/01/2022 10:55

Go o the Facebook group " Not Fine In School - " Public Page - School Attendance Difficulties is on Facebook. To connect with Not Fine In School - Public Page - School Attendance Difficulties

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PleasantBirthday · 25/01/2022 10:55

I'm sure you're not making it easy for him at home in the meantime, that he's not asleep right now and then in front of the TV for the rest of the day. He probably has school work and chores to complete from around 7am, I'd imagine, like everyone else who doesn't go to school.

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Gazelda · 25/01/2022 10:56

Do you think he's self harming as a way to express his feelings about school?
Or is it the other way around?
Or is there some other reason?

I'm sorry, I know you've said that he gives different reasons every time you ask. But I wondered (and I'm sure you've thought of this) whether you need to get to the bottom of the self harming before you address the school attendance? Although that doesn't help with the potential fine etc. It's definitely something that you need to ask the school refusal panel to consider.

Have you been open with pastoral support about the self harming? Do you feel as though you've tried everything they've suggested? A few things you mention make me think that they've suggested something and you've given in to your DS's excuse/refusal a bit too softly. Completely understandable, but it must be exasperating for the school team and they have to follow procedures to show that they are doing everything in their power to provide his education. I'm sure their hands are tied regarding the attendance panel.

I sympathise. It seems an impossible situation for you and there are too many cut backs meaning vital support is it there for you and your DS.

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Notoschool · 25/01/2022 10:56

@SniffMyFeet

Not much help at the moment but I know many, many parents who went through this and the children have grown into wonderful adults
Go to the meeting, listen to what they have to say and tell them honestly how this is all impacting on you and your family
You need support not beaten with a stick
Does your son understand that if you get a fine there'll be no money for extras like food out and top ups?
Is there any subjects he particularly likes? An adult he gets on with so he can 'check in' every time he attends
Any aggression call the police, you mustn't comprimise your safety

Thank you. Although I understand where the school is coming from. They have also not been that helpful. The person who's dealing with it in regular contact with me. She constantly talks over me will not let me finish my sentence. She's told me that I can go to prison get a fine or a tag. Also keeps going on about how I can loose my child benefit and that no counseling/support service will help my son unless he's in school. So I'm a bit worried how much it will actually get heard at this meeting. Its very stressful having him at home. And I want better for him. So I honestly want him in school . He has nothing to focus on. Which won't be good for him
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TankFlyBoss · 25/01/2022 10:58

@Notoschool

I'm an education welfare officer and deal with this day in day out. I would also say that between you and the school you need to get to the bottom of why he doesn't want to be there.

At this stage the best thing you can do is go to the meeting and participate, the worst thing you can do is not go the meeting.

It should be supportive and it should come up with a clear plan to aim to get him back in.

You will hear that you have a legal responsibility to get him in, you will hear that if that doesn't happen there is a possibility of sanctions to the parents but that is always a last resort and doesn't mean it's going to happen straight away. However it is the law and we do have to inform parents.

Good luck

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TankFlyBoss · 25/01/2022 10:59

Ps you won't lose your child benefit, where on earth has she got that from

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CustardCreamsAndMintTea · 25/01/2022 11:00

I think there's two issues. Firstly his feelings about not liking school are valid- but what does he propose he does instead? I think that's what you need to discuss with him. Hes going to want a job, and nice things in the future so he needs to get his head down in some way. How does he plan to achieve his goals?

Secondly, you love him, so you are being kind to him, giving money, topping up his phone. I think that needs to stop. People who don't go to school or work dont have money. They don't have phones.

Its going to be hard. Hes going to tantrum, be aggressive and maybe cut himself. I'm sorry you have to go through it, but you should decide now what your boundaries are and stick with them. It won't help him in the long run to give in to his aggression.

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danadas · 25/01/2022 11:00

Have also been there and agree with pp, it was the worst experience of my life. I had to deregister in the end which resolved the issue immediately but that also isn't the answer for everyone.

If you are on Facebook, I'd suggest joining 'Not fine in school' which has a wealth of support and advice to make sure everyone including the school and the LA are doing everything they should be doing.

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ElftonWednesday · 25/01/2022 11:00

School refusal anxiety is massively misunderstood. Parents should not be fined for their child's mental health issue, and you can't just make a teenager do something, like a toddler you bundle into a pushchair. Even if you have sanctions, they will take ANY punishment to avoid school.

Engage with the school, GP and local NHS trust and keep records and you should not be in trouble for this.

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ElEmEnOhPee · 25/01/2022 11:01

Some colleges take teenagers on for their GCSE years, is that something he'd be willing to try? It could be something to explore.

Agree with previous poster about the police. My brother was like that and it did end up with the police being called and him going to court/prison for while but only because his behaviour had been allowed to escalate to that point.

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Calennig · 25/01/2022 11:01

I've seen a facebook group recommended on here - full of parents in similar poistion.

Quick google came up with
schoolavoidance.org/

Maybe they have some useful advice.

It does sound very hard though.

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Mo1911 · 25/01/2022 11:02

There's a lot more going on with your son than just refusing school and the least important fact is that you're getting in trouble for it.

He needs good psychological/psychiatric assessment and support. What you're seeing are symptoms not the cause.

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BlackeyedSusan · 25/01/2022 11:03

thats really tough. He is clearly unwell and not capable of school at present. Can the Gp help with anything. (though they were a bit useless as well.)

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Calennig · 25/01/2022 11:04

So I'm a bit worried how much it will actually get heard at this meeting

Can you take anyone with you to the meeting?

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Soubriquet · 25/01/2022 11:05

I love how people are saying you’re enabling him. You should shove him out the door, stop him doing XYZ.

How?! How are you, a smaller older woman, supposed to stand up to a 6ft tall younger man without getting hurt?

I would love to their suggestions for that.

I’m sorry op. I have no advice

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AnotherMansCause · 25/01/2022 11:05

All the talk about you possibly going to prison, losing your benefits etc, it's all punishment for you, there's still no support for you or him to get him back into school though is there. How do they suggest you force him back into school when he is larger & stronger than you, violent, (althogh not directly at any family members so far) & is threatening self harm? Have they addressed this at all?

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lifeturnsonadime · 25/01/2022 11:06

@StepAwayFromGoogling

You do sound like you've been enabling his behaviour. Surely you shove him out the door with his achool clothes and tell him to get to school? You don't let him loaf about in the house all day. And you've still been giving him money to go out and top up his phone? So what have the consequences for him not going to school been up to now?

Please ignore this, you will make it worse not better.

Behaviour is a form of communication, he is not coping with something about school and can't express it.

I went through very similar 5 years ago with my son who was subsequently diagnosed with autism, dyslexia, sensory issues and school based trauma.

I would suggest requesting a statutory needs assessment from the LA the fact that he is struggling to attend should be enough to trigger the assessment.

It is so frustrating that you can't get him to CAMHS, be persistent with your GP, ask the school for more help. Ask to speak to the EWO about what strategies can be put in place.

Good luck. Try the Not Fine in School facebook group and website notfineinschool.co.uk/
There are thousands of parents in similar situations.

Finally I hate the term refusal, it should be school based anxiety preventing them from attending. The term refusal implies choice. For children with these issues it's not choice. We wouldn't force an adult into a stressful environment so we shouldn't force children into one either.
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