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).

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Consequences for children

It is clear that these children are really struggling. Many are being forced to do something they simply cannot do. And if they can't attend and their needs go unmet, they often become isolated, receive no alternative provision and spiral downwards. Below is a selection of drawings from the children of Not Fine In School members. This is simply not acceptable.

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