Written evidence submitted by Marie Martin


I represent a large group of 8K Twitter followers, made up of people involved in the area of Disability. They include Parent Carers, Education staff, Doctors, SEND Advocates and Disabled people, who have lived experience.


The whole SEND system really doesn’t work for families like ours. There is no accountability to the laws that you made and our children and parents are being punished for our Childrens non attendance. You call it School refusal, we call it unable to access school. Here are some of the reasons why!


Teachers tell me that they aren’t trained enough, they don’t understand how to manage Children with Invisible Disabilities.  ( the rest of the Teachers aren’t interested in learning!)


Schools refuse to put their hands up stating that they can’t meet the child’s needs. The parent has recognised this long before and quietly watches for the placement to break down. Indeed mostly it is the child that breaks down. On occasion suicidal ideation occurs, as it affects them so badly.


Reasonable Adjustments are not put into place. Some schools don’t understand what reasonable adjustments are, or why they’re needed. Some Teachers blatantly refuse to adhere to them. Eg Toilet passes are regularly ignored and children wrongly punished. Fidget toys are denied etc. Without these adjustments our children can’t COPE and the result is school refusal ( as you like to call it!)


Schools don’t understand anxiety. There needs to be more training in this area and health professionals who understand anxiety, to link into schools when anxiety is raised. Every school needs this and every SEND child needs access to this too. Every School refusal starts with high levels of anxiety.


In summary, this is what happens!


Lack of training in Educational Settings results in – Lack of understanding/ knowledge – lack of meeting needs- resulting in Unmet needs – raised Anxiety- the start of School refusal – escalated anxiety – panic attacks/ fear of failure- School refusal


Our children don’t refuse to go to school, they are unable to access settings who aren’t meeting their needs.


They don’t need punishing, they need supporting. No child should be punished for their disability. Mine was and thousands more are too. It’s totally unacceptable and needs to change!!


Also the undiagnosed children need their needs meeting too. Is it so wrong to meet every child’s needs. The law states “ EVERY CHILD MATTERS “ If this is the case, why have I this many followers who are all saying the same thing?


February 2023