Tuesday, April 15, 2008

School Refusal and Emotional Well Being

For any family struggling with school refusal, Mike Fortune Wood's book on the subject could well be a godsend. In Can't Go, Won't Go , he challenges decades of received professional opinion which asserts almost unequivocally and without substantial evidence in support of these assertions, that it is essential to return an unwilling child to school for they will otherwise never learn to cope with life. Mike provides evidence to the contrary in the form of 17 case studies of children who have been withdrawn from school and successfully home educated. He backs these up with sound reasoning and explanations as to why the professional line may be wrong, along with some arguments as to why home education could be the answer.

This is the first book on the subject which genuinely takes children's emotional needs seriously. This is perhaps not surprising. Most professionals in the field have a vested interest in keeping children in school whether or not they are really coping, and parents often feel they have to ignore their children's unhappiness in order that they may carry on with their own lives as they see fit. Yet forcing a child into a situation where they have been miserable by no means ensures that they will settle or benefit in any way from this enforced return. From the EO webpage on the same subject:

"A research project by Hersov and Berg, both advocates of the view which insists on school attendance, ironically confirms the likelihood of troubled children becoming troubled adults with this conventional response."

In marked contrast, the evidence emerging from the home education community is that HE has saved many children and their families from misery. It has given them their lives back and many of these children have gone on into successful careers or into high pressure further education with often fewer difficulties than their schooled peers.

Now all we have to do is to tell this to the DCSF who are hosting a review of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and are calling for evidence to help inform the deliberations of the review team as to how to improve these services, though we had best be aware that the review is headed up by Jo Davidson, the Group Director of Children and Young People's Services in Gloucestershire CC, and notable for her lobbying of parliament following the Spry case.

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