School Refuser - The Blog

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Home education Journal - free!

The Home education Journal Issues 1, 2, 3, & 4 that are contained in Volume 1 are free to Amazon Prime Kindle users.

I suspect that this is a limited time offer, so move fast and save!

Remember, you don't need a Kindle to read Kindle books, you can access them using a wide range of devices.

More publications can be found in our Book Shop.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Surrey School Refusal Support Group Being set up

A new support group is being set up in Surrey for families who have a child who refuses to attend school.
The school refusal is nearly always anxiety based but the triggers vary from child to child. Many but not all of those affected have SEN and disabilities. The group is based in the Reigate/Redhill area but is open to anyone in Surrey or surrounding areas.

The group's main focus will be to offer peer support in what is often an isolating experience but we will also provide information on the help that should be available and on interventions which may be effective.
They will have regular monthly meetings and occasional guest speakers.

The first meeting is planned to take place on Wednesday 12 December 2012 at 7.30pm. The venue is Reigate Baptist Church Hall, Sycamore Drive, Reigate. Click here to download a pdf of the flyer

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

An enmeshed family

The term 'Enmeshed family' has been used in our Forum.  Not understanding this, I turned to Josephine Ferraro for an explanation.

What is an "Enmeshed" Family?
Salvador Minuchen introduced the concept of "enmeshed" families in his family systems theory in the mid-1970s. An enmeshed family allows individual members little to no autonomy or personal boundaries. The roles among family members can be very rigid. One person might be "the scapegoat," another person might be "the hero" and so on. These roles are not explicitly assigned. It's usually an unconscious process and much more subtle than that. The point is that individuals in this type of family often grow up not knowing how they really feel or what they want to do in their lives because they are encouraged to feel whatever the rest of the family feels (usually initiated by one or both of the parents) and strongly discouraged from developing their own feelings and preferences.

What are the Consequences of Growing Up in an Enmeshed Family?
There is often a strong sense of shame in enmeshed families. The family might designate a particular family member to contain these feelings of shame by making that member "the scapegoat" of the family. When families scapegoat a particular family member, rather than looking at the dysfunctional family dynamic, they point to this family member and say that he or she is the cause of the family's problems. Often, the scapegoated person is the one who strives to be an individual, which is threatening to the rest of the family. He or she is often the healthiest one in the family, but other family members don't see it this way. In their eyes, if only this family member would shape up and think and behave the way that the rest of the family does, everything would be all right. Needless to say, this person carries the family shame and often grows up to feel ashamed of him or herself and defective in some way. The other rigid roles that are assigned in this type of family also cause the individual members to feel ashamed as well.

Enmeshment leads to shame and shame often leads to depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, compulsive gambling, sexual addiction, and other addictive behaviors as well as family violence.

How to Overcome the Effects of Enmeshment as an Adult
Often, enmeshed families do not seek mental health treatment unless they're forced to do it after serious problems have developed. So, for instance, if one of the children begins to have problems in school and the local Bureau of Child Welfare investigates and finds abuse or neglect, the family is often encouraged (and sometimes mandated) to attend family therapy. However, many times the family problems are overlooked because no one outside the family knows what's going on. So, the individual children grow up with a strong sense of shame and problems in their own intimate relationships, assuming that they are able to have intimate relationships.

For adults who grew up in enmeshed families, the idea of getting help for themselves might feel like they're being "disloyal to the family." They've grown up with such a strong sense that they must go along with the family dynamic that it's hard for them to think for themselves--let alone think or do something different from the rest of the family. If they are able to begin individual psychotherapy, they often feel highly ambivalent about the treatment and often drop out before completing the work.

Here are some Books about enmeshed families if you wish to gain further insight.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Swedish Model

Writing in the Forum, Jorgen tells of his work with School Refusers in Sweden. He is the manager of a small operation specialized in getting students back to school, and has been running this small municipal group in a county just outside Stockholm since 2009.

He has managed to work out a model that works and brings this group of kids back to a life with education and a much more brighter future than they had before they joined the group. 

Jorgen writes: 'We are mainly working with kids in the age 13-15 which have been away from school for 1-6 years. When the home school feels that they have done everything in their power and when there is nothing more to try we are contacted by the principal and starts to work together. 

'We have a small group for education where we work with at the most eight students at the same time and where our plan is that the student shall go back to their home school as soon as possible. It usually takes ½-1 year before they have an opportunity to go back and meanwhile we work with both the standard subjects as in regular school but a big part lies in working with self confidence, well being and self awarness.'

Jorgen is now looking for similar similar groups outside Sweden for exchange of knowlege regarding school refusers.

You can contact him through the Forum.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 offers advice is focussed on the private school system, and, of course, on girls, but nonetheless does have a regular supply of helpful information that can be useful to all of us.

 In Tricky teens - helping you and your daughter adjust gives advice on how to cope if your daughter's outlook changes as she hits the teenage years, and in Teenage friendships - building confidence and mutual respect the MyDaughter team advise on how to help her take a positive view. Also, in a dilemma that will be familiar to many parents there is practical advice on what to do if you find yourself saying: 'My daughter is dependent on her Blackberry!'

Monday, 30 April 2012

How can I help my daughter believe in herself? is 'the first website dedicated to providing information, expert opinion and useful advice on all aspects of raising and educating happy, fulfilled girls'.

One parent's dilemma, - 'How can I help my daughter believe in herself?' - which may have implications for us, looks at ways to support your daughter if she's suffering a dip in her self-esteem.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Emotionally Based School Refusal - Somerset Council Guide

Emotionally Based School Refusal (EBSR) is a term ascribed to the group of young people who do not attend school for reasons of fear, anxiety and misery (West Sussex EPS, 2004).

North Somerset Council has produced a pack which includes a list of risk factors that may indicate a child is developing EBSR.  This list is based on research and practitioners’ experience.  There can be no definitive list that will give a measurable outcome as EBSR is so complex.  However, this is a list that can be used as an indicator.  We suggest it could be used at times of transition (eg Years 6 to 7, 9 to 10) when a child is having unexplained or regular time off school or when a child is causing concern within school.  It should be used as an aid to identify specific areas of concern that may lead to a child being increasingly absent from school.  This list can also be used for sharing information within and between schools and other agencies where appropriate consent has been gained.

Also included in this pack are some leaflets that summarise this information.

It can be downloaded here:

Thursday, 22 March 2012

BBC documentary

The BBC is looking into making a documentary about young people who are experiencing school phobia/school refusal.

They are interested in how we could develop this and would really like to speak to - confidentially at first - any parents with children from the ages of 16 and up who are going through this. 

If this sounds like you and you have something to say about how you feel it's affected you and your family, the support you've received, and what it's like then please do get in touch for a confidential chat. 

Please feel free to email Datshi if you would like to get in touch. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

School refusal Vs Truancy

School refusal differs from truancy in that children with school refusal feel anxiety or fear towards school, whereas truant children generally have no feelings of fear towards school, often feeling angry or bored with it instead. The Children's Hospital Boston has this chart to define the differences between truancy and school refusal

Do we agree?

Website design

I have been told that the forum can be difficult to read when you are crying. Now, I know that many of us do have tears in our eyes reading some of the messages that concerned parents write.

So, it seems that it needs to change.

The colour scheme was chosen, in part, because I felt that it was neutral and comforting.

I would welcome advice on an appropriate colour scheme from someone better qualified that I. Any suggestions would be very welcome.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Sarah's checklist

Sarah, one of our Forum members, has compiled a useful list of things that should help parents support their children. I have nicked it - and it is below:
  • Always keep a diary of everything no matter how small; you may need to refer to it at a later date.
  • Contact your local Parent Partnership for help.
  • Find out if your school has a Parent Support Worker - they are very good, but not all schools have one.
  • See your GP
  • Contact CAMHS - this is something schools expect parents to do and ask about CBT ( our life saver )
  • Read a great book called "Can't go won't go" by Mike Fortune Woods and that helped me to come to terms with it all and gave me a better understanding of my son's condition.
Does anyone have anything that they would like to add to the list?

I add that I think it important to make notes at every meeting - and put them into that diary.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Jenn Ashworth: Why I refused to go to school

Jenn Ashworth is an author with two books under belt. But she refused to attend school from aged 11. She tells her story in the Guardian. She does not provide any answers, but still manages to bring hope.

(Thank you Sophy)