Following the piece I did a couple of days ago about forced deregistration, I was emailed by several parents of children whose difficulties had made the school wish to get rid of them. Incidentally, it is interesting that these parents wished to email me privately, rather than putting their stories here in the comments for everybody to read. Two of them told me that this was because they actually taught their children and thought that they would be the subject of attack from some of the more aggressive types who comment here. I have had emails from other parents who say the same thing and explain that they do not comment on other blogs, lists or forums for the same reason. This is a pretty weird situation, when the home educating parents of children with special needs are fearful of attacks from other home educators whose methods are a little different from their own.
I want to focus upon one woman's story, because it seems to contain all the elements which I have heard mentioned elsewhere. In other words, it is typical of others, although not all have every feature which she mentions.
When truanting children or those who are disruptive are eased out of a school and their parents encouraged to educate them at home, things are made pretty plain to the parents. I have mentioned before about Firfield School in Newcastle, which actually typed out letters for the parents to sign, stating that they would be home educating. According to Alison Sauer, the same thing happened in Hull, although she does not give the name of the school. When the school are trying to remove SEN kids, they are usually a bit more subtle about it, although the message they deliver is no less plain.
The common thread in all the cases of which I have heard is that the it is intimated to the mother that her child is a demanding nuisance and that she herself is a neurotic fusspot. If the provision for her child's needs is inadequate and she mentions this, she is told that there are other children in the class and that hers is not the only child's needs to be considered. In one case, an autistic child was entitled to twenty five hours one-to-one support a week. The child's mother found that the person supposedly providing this support was actually dividing her time between other children in the class. When she raised this with the school, she was told that her child was 'hogging' the attention of the support worker! I have heard of a number of cases in other schools and nurseries where this has happened. A person is supposed to be working with one child and gradually becomes a general assistant to the teacher.
Schools sometimes make mothers feel that it is they who have the problem. Even where their child is plainly miserable and being made more and more unhappy by the circumstances at the school, the mother is told that nobody else has seen this and it is hinted that she is an anxious and over-protective parent. Rather than the school tackle their own shortcomings in the field of special education, the situation is transformed into a parent harassing them with unreasonable demands about an imaginary problem. This is almost a form of brainwashing and after a while the parent begins to doubt the evidence of her own senses.
Having established to their own satisfaction that the problem is the child and his parent, rather than their own approach to handling children with special needs, the school now feels free to be a little firmer with the mother. They start to be a little blunt, for her own good you understand. She must adopt a more realistic attitude about what the school can and cannot do for her child. If she objects, the feeling is that she can take it or leave it. Of course there are other schools... She is thinking about taking her child from the school and keeping him at home? Well yes, that's her right.
The mother finally realises that the school are not going to take her concerns seriously. They will close ranks to protect staff who are saying things which are unacceptable and her child is becoming more and more desperate. She sends in a letter of deregistration. This is not of course 'forced' deregistration, as such. Instead it is the skilful manipulation of a the conjurer who while appearing to offer you the choice of any card, in fact forces the one upon you which he has chosen.