Walk-on part in family upheaval

24th February 1995 at 00:00
This week I rang a parent concerning her son and a low-key disciplinary matter. The purpose of my call was to inform and share thoughts on modifying the behaviour of the boy. He is achieving well and with quite minor and recently identified behaviour management problems. The following day the parents contacted another local school to request a transfer for their son.

Last month, the governing body confirmed the exclusion of a very disturbed nine-year-old boy. He had been registered at the school 18 months earlier and came with a history of major behaviour management problems. We worked co-operatively with parents, social services and education support services to modify the boy's behaviour.

We had some success but outside circumstances, including the identification of non-accidental injury, led to a period in care in a home outside the school catchment area. The boy was very difficult to place in another school so we agreed to continue to educate him while initiating a statement of special educational need. The boy now has a statement, and a place in a special education unit. Two weeks ago, his younger sister was removed to another local school.

Identifying and reporting non-accidental injury is a regular and distressing aspect of the work of schools today. Very often, this creates conflict between home and school. It is not unusual for families to remove their children to other local schools following identification of abuse.

Many urban schools will know of "turbulence" in the school population, giving rise to an annual turnover of children of 30 per cent or more. A whole range of social phenomena, including domestic violence and feuds with neighbours, fuel these figures.

The 1988 Education Act's emphasis on parental preference in selecting schools means that schools become a staging post in a family's domestic dramas. The last consideration is the child's settled and continuing education within a single school setting. Children with five different school registrations by Year 1 or 2 confirm my impressions that the Act is no more than a charter for the feckless.

K J HAND, Headteacher

Primrose Hill Junior and Infant School

Tees Grove, Kings Norton

Birmingham

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