Parents of autistic boy revealed nightmare courtroom battle over faculty attendance | UK | News | EUROtoday

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Scott school absence fines case study

Scott, father of 13-year-old Kaylan, was taken to courtroom over his son’s faculty attendance (Image: Express)

The mother and father of an autistic teenager are outraged at being dragged via a nightmare courtroom battle after their autistic son was too overwhelmed to attend faculty.

It was when youngsters returned to highschool after the Covid lockdowns that Scott and his spouse observed a change of their son Kaylan.

He actually struggled with the noise, the crowds, and his consideration span in classes, to not point out the truth that he had developed a worry of going outdoors and was hardly sleeping.

The mother and father requested for assist however had been supplied none from his faculty in Northamptonshire.

Scott mentioned: “Issues started with Kaylan a few years ago when children went back to school after the pandemic. He found it really hard to re-adjust and the school didn’t want to help us with this.

“He wasn’t sleeping, he would experience crippling anxiety about going to school and we knew that sending him in would just make him feel worse, so often, we had to keep him at home – we had no real choice.”

At the top of 2022, they acquired a warning letter about their son’s attendance, threatening a superb and even courtroom, regardless of the varsity understanding the the reason why Kaylan was saved off, Scott claimed.

The faculty determined to pursue courtroom proceedings because of the huge variety of days off Kaylan had accrued and Scott and his spouse arrived ready with 95 pages of proof.

Scott added: “He is one of the kids that have been forgotten about because of Covid and now we are being forced to pay the price.”

School kids

An growing variety of mother and father are being fined for his or her youngster’s non-attendance in school (Image: Getty)

The proof was delivered the day earlier than the deadline, Scott mentioned, and he filmed himself doing this simply in case one thing went flawed.

But it wasn’t till June 2023 that they heard again, receiving a letter within the publish issuing the couple a superb of £1,020 which needed to be paid in 21 days.

Scott added: “I phoned the court and asked why we had been found guilty without a trial and they looked on their system and told me they hadn’t received our defence, despite me filming me dropping it off to them a few months prior.

“Eventually, we went to Northampton Magistrates Court with our paperwork, and they said that they would re-open the case – which was good news, but we shouldn’t have had to go through this in the first place.

“I wanted the school and the local authority both in court during the trial so I could finally get some answers.

“But when it came to the court date, we were told that no one – not the school or the local authority – had turned up, so the case was thrown out and we didn’t have to pay the fine.

“We went through all of that stress for months for nothing, on top of the stress of having a child who is struggling mentally.

“My wife is disabled, and we don’t have that sort of money, so it caused a real panic for us. My biggest concern is this happening again because Kaylan still really struggles with school.”

The teen is now allowed to reach in school later than different youngsters to keep away from the crowds, however he wants 1:1 assist, Scott mentioned.

Scott and his spouse wish to see conditions like this handled on a case-by-case foundation, so mother and father of disabled and significantly ailing youngsters usually are not fined or threatened with fines due to their youngsters’s struggles.

School kids

Children with disabilities and well being situations have traditionally had extra absences from faculty (Image: Getty)

It comes as an growing variety of mother and father are being fined for his or her youngster’s non-attendance in school – amounting to greater than £6.2 million in fines to date on this faculty yr, the Daily Express can completely reveal.

But mother and father of youngsters with disabilities or severe diseases say the latest Government crackdown on unauthorised days off – which is able to see fines rise by 33 per cent – is unfair on them.

Children with disabilities and well being situations have traditionally had extra absences from faculty for a lot of causes: well being points, lack of assist in class, ready for an acceptable faculty place, in addition to being topic to greater charges of exclusion and unlawful exclusion.

In this tutorial yr to date, 116,652 fines have been issued to folks throughout the nation, with £6,265,272 collected from these, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests despatched by the Daily Express have revealed.

And within the earlier tutorial yr – September 2022 to July 2023 – 296,180 mother and father had been hit with fines, amounting to a staggering £13,494,672.

Two mums who each have autistic youngsters – Maddie Roberts, 41, and Susan Liverman, 45 – say the Government is “prioritising attendance over the needs of children, especially those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)”.

When Susan’s son began to battle with going to highschool, it was a symptom of an underlying trigger, she mentioned – autism.

She mentioned: “He tried so hard to go, but just couldn’t. We didn’t know it at the time, but he has sensory differences that mean a classroom environment can be overwhelming.

“We soon realised that forcing him into school was actually increasing his distress.

“Worrying about being fined when my son’s difficulties would have been made worse by going to school, as it didn’t cater to his needs, caused us more anxiety at a really tough time.”

Mum to Harleigh, Maddie, from Bedfordshire, mentioned: “My son Harleigh shouldn’t miss out on being educated because he’s autistic and can’t cope in mainstream school.

“He finally has an education otherwise at school (EOTAS) that meets his needs, and he is starting to recover from his autistic breakdown and thrive again.

“Our children have done nothing wrong by having a disability or difference which means they need more support or an alternative to mainstream school.

“We want our kids in school, but they couldn’t be, which caused us stress and pain every single day.

“The threat of prosecution is terrifying and does nothing to provide our kids with the support they need to get an education.”

The pair have launched a petition, which has amassed greater than 270,000 signatures, calling for extra native authority funding for options to mainstream schooling, in addition to an finish to highschool absence fines.

It learn: “We are asking – why are parents being punished for having kids who struggle with mainstream school?

“Support isn’t being fined and imprisoning us wouldn’t have helped our children obtain an education, but it would have torn our families apart.

“We need more local authority funding for alternatives to mainstream education so that our kids can be in schools that are right for them.”

In February, the schooling secretary, Gillian Keegan, introduced that fines for youngsters in England lacking faculty are to rise by 33 per cent.

Ms Keegan is to overtake the way in which native authorities superb mother and father for unauthorised faculty absences by bringing penalties “under a national framework to help tackle inconsistencies”.

The Department for Education (DfE) mentioned that fines “must be considered if a child misses five days of school for unauthorised absence”, with native authorities presently having large variation over whether or not they levy fines.

Under the brand new guidelines, the preliminary penalty notices will likely be raised from £60 to £80, if paid inside 21 days. Those who delay fee may have fines raised from £120 to £160.

Schools’ every day registers may even be shared on-line with the DfE and native authorities, as a part of the Government’s drive to enhance attendance from its post-Covid hunch.

Geoff Barton, the overall secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, harassed that the majority fines had been utilized to youngsters taken on holidays throughout time period time, whereas greater absences had been usually the results of severe points comparable to psychological well being issues.

Barton mentioned: “There is a wider issue about absence relating to the growing number of children who suffer from anxiety, families who are struggling to cope, and disengagement with education, which schools are endeavouring to address by working with families and pupils to improve their attendance rather than using fines.

“Schools need more help from the Government in this work, both in terms of the funding they receive and investment in local social care, attendance and mental health services.

“Education has become an unofficial fourth emergency service, picking up the pieces for a decade-long erosion of support services. This cannot go on.”

Department for Education spokesperson mentioned: “Penalty notices can’t be utilized in circumstances the place a toddler has been absent solely on account of authorised sickness or medical appointments.

“We recognise some youngsters usually tend to face larger limitations to attendance, like pupils with long-term medical situations or particular instructional wants and disabilities.

“Our guidance is based on a support-first ethos ensuring schools work with pupils and families to support each pupil’s individual needs, particularly those with SEND and mental ill health.”

Anna Bird

‘Parent carers inform us that they – as soon as once more – really feel blamed’ (Image: Contact)

The growing variety of mother and father fined for his or her youngster’s non-attendance revealed by the Daily Express at present, alongside the information that fines will likely be elevated by 33 per cent from September, will likely be worrying information for mother or father carers.

At Contact, we all know that absence charges for pupils with particular instructional wants and disabilities (SEND) have at all times been considerably greater than their friends. This is usually all the way down to unmet wants. In reality, just below 40 per cent of calls to Contact’s helpline are from mother and father who say the varsity or native authority shouldn’t be offering the suitable assist for his or her youngster. It’s additionally essential to have a look at different causes youngsters with SEND could also be absent together with medical causes, an absence of assist in class, evaluation delays, lack of appropriate faculty locations and disproportionate use of exclusions for youngsters with SEND.

The Government’s latest communications marketing campaign encouraging mother and father to ship their youngsters to highschool when they’re anxious or not feeling properly didn’t land properly with the households Contact helps.

Parent carers inform us that they – as soon as once more – really feel blamed. In the final six months, we’ve seen a rise in calls to our helpline from mother and father negatively impacted by the Government’s present attendance coverage. They’ve instructed us about unannounced visits from faculty workers – implying their youngster’s absence was their fault – and being threatened with courtroom proceedings and fines due to absences defined by their youngster’s well being situations or incapacity.

We’ve additionally heard from households who say that the Government’s present deal with near-perfect attendance has resulted in a refusal by the varsity to ship work residence to pupils unable to bodily attend – successfully performing as gatekeepers to their youngster’s schooling.

Parents of youngsters with SEND aren’t protecting youngsters out of college for the sake of it. We consider that the Government’s willpower to realize full attendance no matter the fee, must be refocused in order that these households with youngsters who genuinely can’t attend faculty and who’re already lacking out on spending time with their peer group usually are not unfairly penalised.