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EDITIONS
Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 17:47 GMT
'Our daughter stopped going to school'
teenagers (generic)
Parents could not persuade daughter to go to school
Government proposals suggesting that parents be fined by head teachers if their children play truant, have dismayed mother-of-three Maggie Lay, a nurse from Oxfordshire.

Her daughter stopped going to school when she was 13 and never returned.

Mother and daughter talk to BBC News Online about the battle they had during that time.

Maggie Lay, the mother:

Things began when she was 13. She was going to school less and less until, by the end of the Autumn term she was dropping more and more days.

I was aware of the problems, but I simply could not do anything about it.

She refused to go when I was there and when I wasn't there and at work she still did not go - she just stayed in bed.

More angry

In hindsight she was depressed, but at the time I did not know what to think and I tried everything.

With my husband Peter I tried talking to her like an adult, one-to-one; we tried placing restrictions on her and we tried physically coercing her to go to school.

I felt the authorities sole aim was to get her back to school, not to understand her problems

Maggie Lay

She just got more and more angry. She did not know why she didn't want to go to school, she just felt awful.

She was more socially and physically developed for her age and did not take kindly to being taken and told to stay in school.

Eventually an educational social worker came to see us when the problem with her non-attendance got to a certain point.

I felt the authorities sole aim was to get her back to school, not to understand her problems.

Received help

Eventually a friend suggested she might have a reading problem and I paid for her to have an assessment with an educational psychologist.

It was discovered she had dyslexia, but the school refused to accept the psychologist's report.

In the end she was taught at home by a tutor until she went to a further education college at 15.

If I had been fined at that time it would not have done any good. I would not have paid and would have gone to prison rather than pay it

Maggie Lay

She got the help she needed with her dyslexia and is now studying for A-levels.

Our story had a happy ending because I had the time, energy and support to fight our case.

Initially I was told it was my lack of discipline stopping her going to school and for a while I believed that.

If I had been fined at that time it would not have done any good. I would not have paid and would have gone to prison rather than pay it.

I think (fines) are a cop out, the school should be thinking about why the child does not want to go, rather than passing the buck.

Now I think she feels she did miss out on not having some aspects of school life. I feel it is a shame her problems were not addressed by the authorities at the time.

The daughter:

When I look back I don't regret not going to school but I regret not being the sort of person who could go to school.

I also miss not having had the chance to make school friendships.

But at the time I just felt overwhelmed by it all. It was not just one thing.

I really believe that if I'd stayed on at school I would have ended up with nothing


It was the whole attitude I came up against. I did ask for help, but I was told I was not trying hard enough.

People didn't understand me.

I hated the thought of going to school all the time, and when I was made to go I hated being there.

I used to cry and fight about going.

As soon as I went to college the feelings disappeared. Now I'm given one-to-one help for my dyslexia.

I'm studying for A-levels in law, psychology and sociology and I'd like to go on to do a degree. And I have some brilliant friends around me.

I really believe that if I'd stayed on at school I would have ended up with nothing.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Truancy fines
Should head teachers be given the power?
 VOTE RESULTS
Should parents pay truancy fines?

Yes
 71.51% 

No
 28.49% 

4086 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

12 Dec 02 | Education
28 Nov 02 | Education
15 Nov 02 | Politics
06 Nov 02 | England
09 Oct 02 | Education
09 Oct 02 | Education
18 Jun 02 | Education
Internet links:


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