Not Fine in School was created as a resource for the growing numbers of families with children experiencing school attendance barriers.
These barriers often relate to unmet Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (diagnosed or suspected), physical or mental illness, bullying & assault, trauma, excessive academic pressure, overly strict behaviour policies, a missing sense of belonging, and an irrelevant curriculum.
School attendance barriers are poorly understood, incorrectly managed, & are compounded by current challenges within education, health & local government systems. This problematic response often has severe consequences for both child and family.
At the heart of Not Fine in School there is a Facebook support group with a membership of 37,000+ parents, carers & other family members. This offers a space for shared lived experience and peer empowerment.
We facilitate peer-support for family members, and we share advice for young people, and professionals.
We share resources to help you make decisions, find solutions, & take positive steps for your family.
We take part in academic studies and conduct research to help raise awareness of related issues.
Clinical Psychologist, Dr Naomi Fisher discusses her significant and insightful observations about the side effects of school, and the practices that often create or trigger barriers to attendance.
by Angst voor de schoolpoort
by Hull Parent Carer Forum
by Anna Cottrill
by Erin Davidson, The Donaldson Trust, Billy Anderson, Dr Ruth Moyse, Sylvia Davidson & Tim Davidson
We want to show the many reasons why an expectation of 100% attendance is so hard to achieve
- If your child hasn’t made it into school today please add your reason for the absence to Square Peg's campaign
We are supporting Maddie & Susan's petition and encourage every parent to sign it - you never know when your child might struggle with barriers to attendance
We hope to find out how adults retrospectively view their experiences in relation to school attendance difficulties.
We also hope to learn more about the longer-term outcomes experienced in adult life, following school attendance difficulties.
The Department for Education published new School Attendance Guidance, 'Working together to improve attendance' to be applied from 1st September 2022 onwards, with further guidance published in February 2023
The recommended approach is a focus on building relationships to facilitate access to support.
Written by Fran Morgan with Ellie Costello and edited by Ian Gilbert, Square Pegs: Inclusivity, compassion and fitting in – a guide for schools is a book for educators who find themselves torn between a government/Ofsted narrative around behaviour, attendance and attainment, and their own passion for supporting square pegs and their families.
Over the last few years, changes in education have made it increasingly hard for those children who don’t ‘fit’ the system – the square pegs in a rigid system of round holes.
Budget cuts, the loss of support staff, an overly academic curriculum, problems in the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system and difficulties accessing mental health support have all compounded pre-existing problems with behaviour and attendance. The ‘attendance = attainment’ and zero-tolerance narrative is often at odds with the way schools want to work with their communities, and many school leaders don’t know which approach to take.
This book will be invaluable in guiding leaders and teaching staff through the most effective ways to address this challenge. It covers a broad spectrum of opportunity, from proven psychological approaches to technological innovations. It tests the boundaries of the current system in terms of curriculum, pedagogy and statutory Department for Education guidance. And it also presents a clear, legalese-free view of education, SEND and human rights law, where leaders have been given responsibility for its implementation but may not always fully understand the legal ramifications of their decisions or may be pressured into unlawful behaviour.
Bringing different perspectives and expertise together in one place, Square Pegs aims to help school leaders and staff support children (and their families) more effectively. The authors cover a wide variety of topics – including school attendance, building relationships, trauma-informed practice, and behaviour management. Featuring contributions from more than 50 individual authors, this is an accessible, dip-in, dip-out book – perfect for busy school leaders.
Suitable for all professionals working in education and the related issues surrounding children and young people’s mental health, as well as policymakers, academics and government ministers.
The Edge Foundation have published this report which draws upon a nationally representative survey of over 10,000 15-16 year old young people conducted in the summer of 2021 and qualitative interviews with over 100 young people aged 15-18 carried out between 2020 and 2022. Key findings offers evidence as to why persistent absence is a concern in secondary schools with young people feeling alienated and stressed,
This report presents the findings of a survey of 1016 parents and carers of PDA children.
The aims of the survey were:
The report centres parents' and carers' voices and experiences throughout. 88% of parents/carers completing the survey said that they had felt blamed for some aspect of their PDA child's presentation or "lack of progress".
Should parents be prosecuted when their children miss school? Stories of term-time holidays dominate the news on this subject, but in this episode Rob and Penelope hear from Ellie Costello, Director of Square Peg, and Polly Sweeney of Rook Irwin Sweeney about the reality of persistent absenteeism: chronic illness, waitlists, and impossible attendance expectations. We discuss whether prosecution is the answer when children are frequently absent from school and how law-abiding families can suddenly find themselves facing prosecution while trying to navigate life-changing circumstances such as bereavement and cancer diagnoses.
Researchers at Cambridge and Oxford universities report on the findings of a survey completed by 17,000 school students.
"Support children, don’t sanction parents"
Research by Dr Richard Armitage
A new white paper on an internal presentation of autism & why it's often missed. A must-read for everyone who needs to understand autism (which is all of us) and recognise it earlier.
Let Us Learn Too And the Disabled Children’s Partnership surveyed 1,084 parents and carers between November 2021 and January 2022. The results showed the lengths families have to go to to secure adequate support for their children.
FIONA GULLON-SCOTT & CATHIE LONG
The present article discusses the issues relating to FII and PP, how current guidelines are creating implicit and explicit bias against certain kinds of families and the implications for Social Services.
School statistics don’t show 140,000 children ‘never came back’ after pandemic disruption
The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition has launched a new report on behaviour and mental health in schools which gathers insights from young people, parents & carers and professionals on the links between behaviour and mental health in schools. The report looks at the impact of school behavioural policies on children and young people and aims to understand what can be done to improve the approach to behaviour and mental health in schools.
The report finds that whilst it is important for schools to have clear expectations and boundaries in place, punitive approaches to behaviour management are harming children and young people’s mental health. In particular, we heard that a young person’s behaviour is strongly linked to their mental health and their special educational needs and disabilities.
The report makes a series of recommendations and identifies areas of change that should be prioritised by government and schools.
They have created an animation which can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/HbzkOA7-o5g
New blog by Education Policy Institute examines post-pandemic absences in England and finds a clear link between disadvantaged pupils, SEND, mental health needs and higher pupil absence.