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Because one size doesn't fit all in education | EBE led, grassroots, strategic stakeholder specialists in persistent absence + barriers to school attendance |
Sep 13 12 tweets 4 min read
A parent has shared a school attendance update: “To help parents decide whether they should allow their child a day off school when poorly, the NHS has
produced guidance on common illnesses.” 1/ “This guidance is available via NHS - 'Is my child too ill for school?' webpage and underpins our decision on whether the
reason provided for absence is to be authorised.” 2/
Sep 12 6 tweets 2 min read
Square Peg & @NotFineinSchool have been working with @educationgovuk on this. Great to see the tiered transparent model focussing on support. We disagree criminalising any family is the appropriate mechanism for upholding right to access education. We see & have lived how it plays out.
Aug 18 24 tweets 13 min read
"...a recent report highlighted the problems they have in accessing services. It described support services as “buckling under pressure”, leaving children “ricocheting around services” which are “over-medicalised, bureaucratic, unresponsive, outdated & siloed”. "Services are organised by diagnosis, but medical psychiatric diagnoses are not a perfect science even for adults, let alone for developing children and adolescents, whose stress responses are subject to change."
Aug 16 10 tweets 3 min read
“Perhaps even more damaging in the longer term will be the social, emotional and behavioural impacts of missing out on classroom learning and formative experiences during the lockdowns.” theguardian.com/education/2022… Consecutive Governments’ education policy has failed. That’s a bitter pill to swallow; an uncomfortable truth. This isn’t blame, it’s fact. Those in corridors of power scratch heads - where and why and how has it gone wrong? And what do we need to change? A few suggestions:
Aug 7 19 tweets 4 min read
“The first and most obvious sign that teenagers are not coping is that they are absent — they are failing to come to school.” So much to reflect on in this article. Here’s the Square Peg take on things. 👇🏻 Good to see acknowledgment kids were struggling pre-pandemic & Covid exacerbated existing vulnerability & created new ones. Agree there is a vast difference between clinical anxiety & ordinary normal stress. Tik Tok led self diagnosis not helping.
Jul 15 10 tweets 10 min read
As a fledgling org & with attendance & persistent absence largely ignored until we started campaigning in 2018, this has been an eye opening (if not intense) experience for Square Peg and all families wishing to raise their concerns about these areas in #SchoolsBill. But… …what it’s enabled is authentic & meaningful engagement & participation by the public with the Upper House. Parents & carers have been able to (and will continue to) exercise and leverage their power as constituents & grassroots lobbyists.
Jul 14 8 tweets 2 min read
Going through therapy, one of my biggest shame traps was around feeling angry. I’d been raised to be polite, obedient, considerate, amenable, accepting, ‘good’ at all times. When life went sideways & my family & I were catastrophically failed, I struggled with my dysregulated emotions. I was uncomfortable with advocating & asserting myself but was compelled to do so on behalf of my child.
Jul 14 6 tweets 2 min read
Presenteeism is anti public health and social responsibility. It increases community transmission & places clinically vulnerable groups at risk. It increases burden to the NHS. It’s poor form as some would say. itv.com/news/border/20… Under 100% attendance aspirations, advice to schools which flows to parents is they must send their child into school with Covid (or other symptoms such as conjunctivitis, tonsillitis, slapped cheek, hand foot & mouth etc).
Jul 14 16 tweets 12 min read
“On not getting an invite to prom, Molly said: ‘I felt screwed over. It’s not my fault and I feel bad enough with this condition as it is.’

Molly receives treatment for Crohn’s every six weeks for an infusion treatment through a drip.” portsmouth.co.uk/news/people/po… ‘The medications wipe out her immunity and make her skin super sensitive to the sun,’ explained Claire.

‘She did an abseil [in May] which was an amazing thing to do.’

The pub landlord Scott added: ‘We’re helping someone in our community to raise awareness of Chron’s disease.’
Jul 12 5 tweets 1 min read
‘Their proposals are simple. Start with an end to truancy laws. This sounds like the sort of thing that would have certain sections of the media & the small number of Tory party members who will pick the next prime minister coughing, spluttering…hot tea all over themselves.’ ‘The trouble is, coercion doesn’t work and it doesn’t help. Replacing it with something better might. That’s radicalism for you. Some might prefer to call it common sense.’
Jul 12 7 tweets 2 min read
Throughout this academic year’s data, the largest recorded reason for persistent absence climbing has been ILLNESS. Covid has been let loose and mental health is continuing to decline in both CYPs & the workforce. It’s time to find another way. Hand wringing over attendance data, conflating agenda, weaponising safeguarding rather than addressing & implementing SEND, CAMHS, social care, welfare & pastoral support is the problem here. But also, resisting irrefutable truth that many are in distress, overwhelm & burnout.
Jul 6 12 tweets 2 min read
A note on morality policing. Yes, transparency is important. Yes, accountability is essential. Yes openness is fundamental. However, asserting motives that are slanderous & defamatory or which calls into question the credibility of our voice & work, that’s where the buck stops. Most at the mo are focussed on the SEND Green Paper. Mighty organisations & experienced SEND veterans are collectively turning their eyes on it and working hard to effectively challenge, debunk & evidence agenda. Rightly so. The implications in woolly writings pose new threats.
Jul 5 6 tweets 1 min read
#parentviews101: “I’m dreading tomorrow - the ‘reward day’ that covid cancelled has suddenly reappeared- tomorrow & first I heard of it was last Thursday with my YP saying their ‘name wasn’t on the list’ - I called and left a voicemail querying this…” / “didn’t realise it was tomorrow it was due to happen though)…have had no response from school, now have a very sad subdued YP as all [their] friends are going and [they] don’t know what the plan is for the kids not going at school tomorrow either…” /
Jul 4 12 tweets 3 min read
So much to agree with here. So much I ponder, talk about in policy meetings, challenge. “Need not diagnosis: Towards a more realistic language and understanding. The Michael Lewis Inaugural Lecture, LSBU” / stephenunwin.uk/thoughts-and-p… “‘That’s not what it is about.  For me, it’s not what I am experiencing, it’s what your writings might mean for public policy.  That's what concerns me.  And that’s not just about my daughter.’”/
Mar 13 5 tweets 1 min read
“It affects everything because collagen is in everything. It’s a multi-systemic illness, and there’s not very much research into it at the moment.” wiltshiretimes.co.uk/news/19961622.… ‘Due to her late diagnosis and a lack of compassion she has faced, she feels that more needs to be done…to tackle the illness, which affects around 1 in 5000 people in the UK.’
Mar 13 13 tweets 10 min read
I was reliably informed during a conversation with policy writers in a well-known high profile org that an LA Lead had told them “you’d be amazed how much non-attendance at school is down to Munchausens by Proxy.” I blanched. You see that was levelled at me by services once. My child at that time had ‘perplexing’ presentation no one could find the cause. His health declined & got any better for months, school attendance dwindled. Neuralgic episodes emerged, hallucinations, nightmares, dissociative behaviour. We were losing him and no one in primary
Mar 12 5 tweets 2 min read
‘"For years, that contract has been clear, parents have a responsibility to get their children to school, with minimum absences, and in return schools do their level best to educate and look after those children," she said.’ tes.com/magazine/news/… Unless Ms Spielman & others are prepared to consider the impact of current curriculum raised levels under Gove reforms, high-stakes testing, zero tolerance on behaviour, uniform, attendance; the flawed beliefs woven into systems arising from statistically incorrect research via
Mar 12 4 tweets 1 min read
‘“Most parents aren’t equipped to do it, and if they are motivated by their own or their child’s anxiety, rather than a deeply held desire to home-educate – the outcomes for their child are unlikely to be great,” she will add.’ standard.co.uk/news/uk/ofsted… ‘Motivated by their own or their child’s anxiety’! I mean, seriously? How much ignorance is laced into this thought process and statement?! Clearly, Ms. Spielman has no experience of mental illness, caring for a person battling it, or how disabling it is.
Mar 12 6 tweets 2 min read
Yes. Let’s recognise and talk about clinical level anxiety in our YP for what it is: mental illness. It isn’t rational, it can’t be out thought via CBT or behaviour management or punishments. Unrecognised & unsupported, these YP end up: At risk of suicide; self-harm (to the extent of life-changing injuries including loss of mobility & speech); eating disorders, exclusion; youth justice, criminal justice; removed from parents & placed in care; in residential institutions or tier 4 CAMHS; at risk of abusive
Mar 11 13 tweets 6 min read
Dear @LGAcomms. Your lack of accountability and reflection re. SEND speaks volumes. It tells me we have a system flooded with toxic stress, laced with a complicit culture of shame & blame. Service users are an easy and convincing target. Disproportionately disadvantaged & vulnerable service users the softest target of all, and your blame & selective narrative around their behaviour rather than reflecting on yours speaks of a staggering level of hubris, churlish, immature & unprofessional culture & practice.
Mar 11 12 tweets 2 min read
“This report completely misses the point that parents wouldn’t succeed at Tribunal unless the evidence supported their case. The Tribunal doesn’t uphold parents’ appeals because they engage persuasive advocates or because the judge gives in to demanding families – “ “– decisions are made on the basis of law and evidence.”

“There are only two ways, as I see it, that the rate at which local authorities lose SEND appeals will fall. One is if local authorities comply with the legal framework and make lawful decisions.”