Consequences for families
We know from a Not Fine In School parent survey (May 2018, completed by 1,666 parents) that the consequences of a child who is struggling and failing to attend school can be catastrophic.
Key to this is whether there is support and understanding from the school, and also from family & friends. School leaders decide whether to authorise absence. School attendance difficulty resulting from debilitating anxiety is a mental health condition and thus should be authorised as an illness (code I). Unfortunately, competing attendance and attainment agendas, problems accessing support and a lack of understanding mean that it is more commonly recorded as 'other' unauthorised absence (code O). This subjects parents to fines and prosecution. Low attendance is a red flag in safeguarding policies and so can often result in a referral to social services. If this escalates it can result in a child being put on a Child Protection plan or parents being accused of Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII). The graph below shows the percentage of parent responses in a Not Fine In School survey (May 2018, completed by 1,661 parents).