School Refuser - The Blog

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

An alternative to school

I have some interesting meetings in the last couple of days when I was able to explore more about school refusal issues. I will write about more of these later, but wanted to pick up on one this time.

I was at a ChildLine event on Monday, celebrating 20 years of ChildLine in Scotland, and recognising that 422,000 children and young people have been helped during that period. We also took the opportunity to congratulate Esther Rantzen, who founded the charity, and who celebrated her 70th birthday yesterday!

This was a chance not to be missed, and I took the opportunity of mentioning the problems faced by children who are unable to face school, and the stress that their parents experience as a result.

I was aware that Esther was involved in a number of charities besides ChildLine, now part of the NSPCC. it turns out that she is Patron of Red Balloon.

Red Balloon Learner Centres are set up specifically to help children who cannot go to school because they have been badly bullied. There are currently six centres – in Cambridge, Liverpool, Norwich, Preston, Harrow and Warwick.

Esther gave me an introduction to the Chief Executive, and I have written to her to see if there is a way that their bullying remit can be widened.

I note the following guidance that Red Balloon gives:

Usually in order to get local authority funding for a place at Red Balloon, you need to follow certain procedures. You must have made a complaint to your state school about the bullying your child received, and follow the guidelines in the school's complaints procedure (ask them for it). Once you have done this and yet your child still won't go to school and is not getting an adequate education, you could ask for a referral to your local Red Balloon.

Getting support from your GP about the connection between the bullying and the mental/physical health of your child will help you make a case. At any time, contact your local councillors or your MP about the fact that your child is unable to access a full-time education in mainstream school for fear of bullying.

Red Balloon has only limited resources, so for those of us living out-with their catchments areas, we still face difficulties accessing an alternative education for our children. However, Red Balloon Learner centres do seem to be an additional option for those lucky enough to be near one.

You can help them by making a donation; please do so here:

You can read more about the charity here>>>>

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