This article is a painful reminder of the folly of a “one size fits all” approach. What works for general and low-level non attendance is unlikely to work when non-attendance is the manifestation of a deeper, complex and more troubled situation.
It’s not that long ago that during an attendance review we spotted an erratic attendance pattern in a bright Year 10 pupil. This at a time where Education Social Workers were a vital link between school and other agencies; their role looked at engagement, development and assistance: these vital areas were never the servant of compliance, Our bright Year 10 pupil took time off when he believed that his dad a perpetrator of domestic violence, was likely to assault his mom. His dad wouldn’t carry out the assaults when his son was around. Our Education Social Worker found this out, organised a multi-agency strategy meeting with a series of “Who does what” outcomes. Result? Perpetrator out of the house and banned from the area, Mom gets some assistance with enabling her to understand what has happened to her and how to move forward, Year 10 pupil attends regularly and grades improve.
Although I’m certain that the bean counters who have authored the current raft of compliance that floats on a sea of manure mean no harm, it is clear that they cause harm or are a part of harm being caused. Whereas it’s true, they didn’t bully the boy to death it is unavoidably clear that they are an unnecessary function of a bizarre culture that insists on measuring the wrong things for the wrong reasons, producing a flawed “devil take the hindmost” culture is so doing.
This child-yes child-is dead through no fault of his own. He is the victim of bullying, aided and abetted by a system that seems to have forgotten how to care and why it should.