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informal exclusions and similar: case studies

Student A - Moved boroughs

Student B - Children who disappear from the system

Student C - opting for Home Education to remove a the threat of prosecution

Student D - Out of Education long term

Student E - All schools full

Just to reiterate, there is no blame here, no pointing fingers - just simple narratives to help understand what can go wrong. These case studies are real, anonomised and indicative of many, many similar others.

All from 2007.

Case Study 1
Student A - Moved boroughs

Student A joined alternative provision in January 2007 following numerous attempts to engage him in alternative programmes He made good progress until he went to visit dad at a different location. After 2 weeks it appeared that Student A was doing well with his father and would move into his fathers accommodation.

Student A had come into alternative provision via an LA. The father's accommodation was via a different LA. The provider for the first LA contacted the new LA in July and explained the situation. A number of messages were left and effort was made to contact the 'right' people in the new LA.

The provider was directed to Education Welfare by Student A's father in July. By early August the assigned EWO had not called back despite numerous calls, messages left and a promise to get in touch. Finally in September the assigned EWO called and told the alternative provider that ..

"We spoke about Student A staying on this provision but we are unsure if this is possible due to cost"

Details of Student A's activities were sent to the EWO in July. In August the following was received

"Thanks for these. I will keep you informed of the progress I make on this".

The provider awaited a response. In the meantime Student A was cut off from the provision.

The provider talked to Student A's family in late September. He was still in receipt of no education.

A letter was sent to the new LA in late September following a telephone conversation with the Children Missing from Education Senior Officer in the LA. This letter explained that it was understood Student A would not return to the alternative provision, but requesting details of the education Student A was receiving to enable the provider to pass on relevant documentation. A letter received in late October from the LA confirmed Student A was still out of education.

As a year 11 student all the research undertaken by alternative providers shows that Student A is unlikely to receive any education at all; his case will probably drag on with various panels and conferences until he reaches 'study leave' in April.

Case Study 2
Student B - Children who disappear from the system

Student B joined alternative provision in November 2006.

The alternative provider were unable to talk to Student B despite numerous phone calls and home visits. In June staff at alternative provision were informed by Student B's mum that Student B had been arrested by the police and taken into care in June.

Phone calls to agencies including the Child Protection contact failed to corroborate mother's story and this raised alarm bells.

The school where Student B was on role, were contacted by phone by the alternative provider and an email exchange took place. The school made every attempt to contact Student B and investigate his disappearance.

As the school and the alternative provider were both unable to gain any information on Student B's location a letter was sent to Head of Children's Services in early July. The alternative provider considered this a serious child protection issue. The alternative provider never received any acknowledgement or response to this letter.

Having a community of young people the alternative provider used its contacts, and considerable staff resource, to search for Student B. He was located in late July and the school informed. The alternative provider contacted social services, gave Student B's location to them and ensured he attended his bail hearing.

The concern here is that a child, under 16 years, simply disappeared. He could not be located by the alternative provider or the school. Social Services did not appear to take the situation seriously. Each year, research shows, a number of young people 'disappear' for a number of reasons, including to avoid problems or prosecution for non-attendance.

These young people are 'at risk' as well as being 'a risk'.

Case Study 3
Student C - opting for Home Education to remove a the threat of prosecution

Initial contact was made between the alternative provider and the child's mother through a general email in July.

Like an increasing number of parents the mother withdrew Student C from the school roll in September 2006 after struggling to get Student C to attend throughout year 7. Student C had been bullied at school following the transfer from primary to secondary and was being continually physically sick.

The school solution to her non-attendance was to insist Student C attend school. This being the case the parent then chose to withdraw her child from the system.

Student C's mother maintains that she never felt able, or had any desire, to home school. She removed Student C to reduce pressure on herself and the child. Student C should have entered year 9 in September 2007. As her daughters desire to learn increased, but she was still refusing to attend school, the mother has felt increasingly out of her depth.

The alternative provider advises parents not to remove their child from the school roll but the removal of the threat of prosecution if the child is removed means that the alternative provider continues to get a huge number of referrals from desperate parents whose children are now educated 'out of school'.

Student C's story is, sadly, all too common. In the 7 years of research into children outside formal education the alternative provider has noted with alarm an increasing number of young people are off roll. This is not only a trend to have been noted by us but others involved in this sector. On 26th September Channel 4 did a report on this very issue:

"But Channel 4 News online has also learned that some schools and parents are using home education as a method of avoiding truancy prosecution and poor league table standings."

Case Study 4
Student D - Out of Education long term

Student D lived in Surrey with her mother and sister. One child was in year 8 and one in year 10. Due to continual abuse the family moved location and were eventually placed in a safe house by the LA. Finally for their own safety they were moved to another borough.

Both children were removed from school due to threats, could not attend school while the family was in the safe house and, due to the stress of the family situation, would not return to school.

The LA has offered a number of schools but neither child will attend. No other provision has been forthcoming.

Both children were, one year later, still out of education.

Case Study 5
Student E - All schools full

Student E, who lives in a London LA, has been out of school for 16 months. Mother has applied for schools in and out of the borough but has been told that there are no places available. Mum has made appeals directly to schools but had not to date (September 2007) been offered any places. Student E is still on waiting lists for schools. Applications have been made to Student E's Education Welfare Officer.

Student E is increasingly suffering from depression and despair. She went missing in late May and only returned home in late September 2007: she was missing from home for over 18 weeks.

Even if a place is available Student E will find it hard to attend a school now because every time she leaves the house on her own she fears assault following a number of incidents in the area in which she lives. The EWO and the authorities are aware of this situation.

Student E has Missing Persons Liaison Education Welfare Officers as well as an EWO responsible for her but to date no education has been forthcoming.

Both case study 4 and vcase study 5 demonstrate that once a young person had fallen out of the school system for any reason it was often hard to get them accepted back into the system.


informal exclusions and similar: case studies

this page authored, and last updated, by Prof Stephen Heppell - latest changes made on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:52 AM