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  • Writer's pictureEllie Costello

The Observer discusses legal action

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

Parents' legal action to prevent fines and prosecutions resulting from school 'refusal'

We were delighted to have the issue of school 'refusal' and our legal challenge covered by The Observer on 2 November 2019 (courtesy of journalist Julie Henry). It was good to see most of the issues raised, with references to the number of children currently classed as 'persistent absentees' (783,425) and the lack of underlying data. It is interesting to note that since this was written, Not Fine In School now has over 9,000 members (so nearly 800 new members in 4 weeks).

School special needs budgets have been slashed and cuts mean support staff are no longer there, waiting lists for access to the child and adolescent mental health service are unacceptably long, and the thresholds to qualify for any kind of help are unacceptably high. At the same time, academic pressure is being piled on pupils. It is a perfect storm and a lot of children can’t cope.”

The article describes the experiences of Colette Reid, a social worker, and her son, James. Colette was fined and then prosecuted as s result of James' low attendance, but was given an absolute discharge by magistrates who said they “appreciated how difficult it must be raising a child like James”.

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