The Instructions Not Included campaign will help promote a shift in attitudes so that seeking support is seen as a sign of strength. By unlocking the power of parents and families to help themselves and one another, we will reach out to more families, overcome more barriers to support, and help to prevent the escalation of parenting problems.
Jennifer: I'm at my wits' end with my 15 year old daughter. She absolutely refused to attend school at the end of the last term and is now saying she won't go back this week.
ACE: I'm sorry you are having problems getting your daughter to school. You don't say what you have tried so far so I'll give a few suggestions for how you might deal with this. First of all you need to try and find out by talking to your daughter if there is something or someone causing problems at school - is there a particular lesson that she is having trouble keeping up with, a teacher she doesn't get along with, bullying or falling out with friends. These are all things that you can reassure her that you will be able to go into the school, discuss these with staff and find solutions. If your daughter is finding it hard to put into words or give the underlying causes then I would suggest that you make an appointment with your GP and raise the issue with your doctor. He maybe able to refer your daughter on to someone who can talk through the issues with her and give some expert advice. If your daughter is refusing to attend when school starts then you should contact the school and let them know that you are having problems. Ask to have a meeting with her Head of Year or Form Tutor to discuss the problem. They may be able to let you know what has been happening at school which might help to explain why your daughter doesn't want to attend. What you want to achieve is the school understands your daughter has a problem and that you want to work with them to get her back to school as quickly as possible but that this may take some time. You should also contact the Local Authority Education Welfare Officer and explain the situation. Ask to have a meeting and get them to tell you what they can do to support you and your daughter and practical help for getting her back to school. You could ask that your daughter attends part time to start with and gradually builds up to full time if you think this would a way of getting her to attend. Many schools have Parent Support workers who may also be able to help you. Good luck.
Lorena: My 8 year old son is really scared of school and it’s been like this for about a year. Teachers are trying to help but they are baffled. There hasn’t been no bullying or nothing. He will hide in the mornings, have panic attacks, etc. I am so worried and don't know how to help him. I feel anxious constantly and school starts on Thursday.
ACE: This must be really difficult for you. It is good that the school are trying to help and being supportive. You say they are baffled - have they called any one in from outside the school to see your son, an educational psychologist for example? If not, I would ask them to do this. Schools work closely with the local authority psych service. At the same time you should take your son to your GP and explain what happens - panic attacks etc. You should ask him to refer you on to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). You need to get some expert advice on this. They should also be able to give you some practical strategies that you can use when trying to get him to school. I hope this helps.
Kerry: My girl is 12 and is refusing to go to school ... she keeps saying that if she goes back these bunch of girls are going to stab her. Spoke to head of year and he seems to think it’s just an idle threat and if she doesn’t come to school then he might have to involve the education welfare person. What do I do, what if they can’t keep her safe? I am in absolute turmoil and don’t know what to do ... please help.
ACE:This must be a real worry for you. I would suggest that you contact the school and ask to have a meeting with the Head teacher. Explain the situation and that you have already met with the Head of Year, who called it an idle threat which didn't reassure you that the school were taking it seriously or that your daughter would be safe. Ask the Head what practical arrangements they can make to keep your daughter away from the group of girls, what could the school put in place at the start and end of the day that would make you and your daughter feel comfortable? Were the girls friends before - what about some sort of mediation through the school? Think about these things yourself and go to the meeting with some suggestions of your own. At the same time I would suggest that you contact Education Welfare yourself and ask for some support. The school seem to be using education welfare as a threat but they can support you and give you advice on how to get your daughter back to school. I'm sure they will have dealt with other situations that are similar to yours and can help you find practical solutions. It also shows that you are doing everything you can to get your daughter back to school. You could also find out if the school have any sort of Police Liaison Officer - many schools do. You could explain the situation and ask for their advice on how best to deal with it. You are not making any formal allegations, you are asking for advice and they will have lots of experience of this type of situation. You could always ask them to attend the meeting with the Head teacher with you. I hope you get this resolved.
worried_mum: My daughter will soon be five. She was bullied at school for eight months. We met with our headmaster about five times amongst other things in one meeting I made the suggestion that the school's anti-bullying policy be reviewed to include the early years classes. At the beginning of the school holidays I received a letter from the Chair of governors. It expressed regret about the bullying and indicated that the policy will be changed. However the second half of the letter contained an accusation that I was 'reported' as displaying 'inappropriate' behaviour and saying that if it happened again they would have to consider banning me from the school unless I had the headmaster's permission to go in! I was astounded and felt that the Chair of Governor's letter was in itself inappropriate. In the first instance I have asked the Chair to give further details of the alleged 'inappropriate behaviour' on my part. As far as I am concerned there hasn't been any. I have not had a response to my letter for the past five weeks I'm wondering what to do now?
ACE: Hello worried mum. It is a pity the school have taken such an insensitive tone as it appears that you had managed to get the school to take on board your concerns about their anti-bullying policy. You have written to the Chair to ask for details of your inappropriate behaviour but have not received a reply yet. I expect this is because of the school holidays. In deciding whether to take this further or not I would suggest that you think about what you want to achieve at the end - an apology for the letter, recognition that your behaviour wasn’t inappropriate? If you decide to take it further in a formal way then you should make a formal complaint following the schools complaints procedure. The Head can ban parents from school grounds but should make the ban time limited and allow you to appeal his decision but ultimately has the power to do so. This is difficult to deal with. Keeping a good working relationship with the school is really important and you daughter has a lot of years left at the school. You could ask for an informal meeting with the Head and Chair and explain that you want to work with them and let them know how baffled you were by the letter the chair sent you, especially as they had taken on your concerns about the policy and you felt you had worked well together. If such a meeting does not resolve the matter for you then as I suggest you would have to make a formal complaint. Good luck.