Advice on school absence, changing schools and home education
Your child may have spent a long time out of school because of bullying, or you may be considering a new school or home education.
My child won't go to school
Bullying can have a serious impact on a child’s life, so it’s important to take any fear of going to school or school refusal seriously.
In the short term, it is your parental right to keep your child off school if bullying is impacting their physical/mental health, and you are worried for their safety. It is important you communicate what is happening with the school and see what they can put in place to ensure your child's safety in school. It may be helpful to:
- Use this bullying-related absence template letter when contacting the school or local authority about your child's absence
- Get support from a team at your Local Authority who are able to support and advise with attendance issues. This team may be called education inclusion, education entitlement, education support or similar
- Visit your GP for their advice and support
- Look at Not Fine in School's website, which has detailed information, advice and support if your child is refusing to go to school
Talk with your child
Talk to your child about whether they would like to look at alternative schools, and work through the options as a family.
Applying for a new school
Contact your local authority to find out about the admissions process in your area. Applying can often be done through their website, although some academies, free schools and independent schools may require you to apply directly. Keep in mind that it may take some time before a place becomes available. It is important that you do not remove your child from the school roll until an alternative school place is found unless you wish to undertake the responsibility of home educating your child. If your chosen school is oversubscribed and a place is not available, you may need to go through an appeals process.
Build confidence before the move
Changing schools may make the bullying stop, but it’s likely that your child’s confidence will have taken a knock and they may find making new friends a frightening or difficult experience. Make sure your child is equipped with confidence and assertiveness skills before the move (our ZAP workshops can help with this).
For further advice, see our page on starting school.
Home education can be a temporary solution as you wait for a new school place, or you may feel it is the best option for your child long term. Don’t remove your child from the school roll until you’ve have explored all options and sought advice and talked through with your child, family and support networks.
Home education is legal in the UK, although you will need to go through certain processes to ensure authorities are aware your child is being home educated. These vary by country in the UK, and some local authorities may have different processes. You may also need support in home educating your child. Education Otherwise provide information about the law and a directory of local groups. Most local areas have Facebook Groups for support and information on local activities and services for home educating families.
Red Balloon provide educational and therapeutic programmes to children who have been traumatised due to bullying or other reasons. This support is available at learner centres or online and would need to be funded by your Local Authority or privately.
If you need further advice on any of these areas, please contact the Kidscape Parent Advice Line.
Parent Advice Line
Guidance and support for parents and carers
ZAP workshops for children impacted by bullying (available online and in the community)
ZAP workshops bring together children facing a similar situation and teach a range of tools to increase assertiveness, build confidence and help manage bullying situations.