Article 6:

Skipping School Our work with NFIS Define Fine

By Louise Engels | February 5th, 2021

‘SKIPPING SCHOOL’ – OUR REALITY Survey Results - click here

My family were part of Skipping School, a Dispatches documentary made with Anne Longfield, The Children’s commissioner for England following her report of the same name. We agreed to take part in the documentary because we wanted to highlight the difficulties of thousands of families like ours who had decided to Home Educate because we felt there was no other choice. Children like ours who were Not Fine in School.

This was my statement following the Dispatches Skipping School Documentary in 2019

Having watched the Skipping School documentary I feel we were manipulated and put in a very vulnerable position. Anne didn’t tell our whole story but it felt like she used us for her own agenda. Her conclusions even contradict her own report into how well elective home educators provide for their children and how badly the education system lets far too many children down.

It was good to meet with Anne and for the boys to be able to share their experiences and opinions with her . However Anne seemed to come across as patronising at times rude to my children, undermining me as a Mum. Anne was asked by a 9 year old boy not to show the part where she invaded his space and upset him . He has ptsd from school and she triggered that live on tv.

Despatches and the media can edit stories however they like – but the truth is the truth . You can’t control that. Through social media and decent other media outlets the truth can always be told . I will make sure that I have a right to reply.

I have fought to defend my family from abuse by a head teacher, social services and now Anne Longfield . I expected better from the Children’s commissioner and Dispatches. This could have been such a good documentary and used to pave the way for real change . Our Not Fine in School children are being let down and no one seems to be willing to ask why and to ensure they have their SEND and health needs met so they can access education and achieve their potential . Perhaps there was too much to cover in one programme.

Why is Anne insisting that school is the best place for a boy with school trauma – a place where he was neglected and abused? He was off rolled from the same South Leicestershire Primary School that his brothers had attended. A school that now has a huge proportion of mid term transfers . Anne seemed to miss the point that prior to being home educated Leo was not fit for school for more than an hour a day and was so traumatised he was not able to process information, not able to make eye contact nor communicate with adults and was referred by his rheumatologist for an autism assessment .

The evidence of the power of home education was caught on film. Leo is now healthy, happy and gradually had become more able to learn . Anne calls for monitoring and then disputed report of our lovely LA local home officer who monitored us the week before she came to visit ! Does she believe her own opinions are more valid than an experienced home ed officer, Leo’s consultants, dyslexia assessor and his play therapist ?

Anne said that children are safer in school even though she knew school that caused my middle son’s health decline. He is still on roll at a main stream school with an EHCP that I fought for him and still needs to be appealed. The education system is still failing him .

Sadly Anne then failed to address the issue of the highest performing academy in Leicestershire pushing my lovely brilliant, intelligent eldest son out by refusing to follow government policy for ill children . She told him that he has a bright future ahead of him – despite being denied an education beyond GCSEs.

It’s a shame she’s not investigating the schools who harmed my boys.

Do you think social services helped to protect my boys ? Schools ? Or the local education authority who have been stripped of all powers to monitor schools. What is Anne actually proposing to make schools more accountable ?

Our only real support has come from kind, helpful , well educated, informative members of the local and national home ed community who took us in and taught us a kinder way to educate. Parents who love, nurture and educate their lovely articulate children became my mentors and our friends. We have now chosen to follow a much gentler approach to education than schools ever can and for us this is throughout the day , 7 days a week , 52 weeks of the year with a mixture of formal and informal learning across a broad curriculum . Now the whole community are at risk of harm from the level of monitoring being proposed, by those , like Anne, who may not see the big picture of how successful Home Education and alternative provision can be .

Baileys Mum is providing an education for her son despite the lack of support. She’s is doing an amazing job under difficult circumstances . You could have highlighted that instead of focussing on her difficulties . Lilly is bright and articulate despite schools letting her down .

I add my complaint to the many others from parents of children who struggle to attend school and home educators alike who deserve better than this.

Louise Engels