Testimonies from parents: 6. Mother from Wigan

I am a 39 year old mum from Wigan who has chosen to keep her children away from school since March due to the pandemic. I have been threatened with fines, prosecution and unlawful off-rolling by the Head Teacher at my children’s school. She has emailed me the link to Wigan council’s website which stated that I could end up being jailed for three months. 

Prior to this my children have never had any attendance issues. Moreover, I am sending reports of their temporary remote learning to the school every day. I am a qualified teacher and I am confident they are progressing well and above all, they are happy.

Many families have tested positive for COVID-19 in my children’s school. I know two children personally who are suffering with long Covid, one of the being my year 6 son’s best friend, who tested positive for Covid mid-September. Initial symptoms: sickness and diarrhoea. Now, four months on he has been referred to a paediatrician consultant due to him have low blood oxygen levels, shortage of breath after walking a few minutes and sleeping for 13 hours a day. His mum is in bits. Despite there being several confirmed cases of both staff and pupils in the school – not one child has ever been sent home to isolate, let alone a full bubble sent home. 

I have an underlying health issue – a genetic blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. I informed the school that this could put me at a greater risk, with evidence, but they ignored the email completely. Moreover, my daughter needs extra help and support. We have paid for her to have extra online tuition with a dyslexia specialist plus she can get all the help she needs at home. 

But besides all of this, what I find astounding is that other schools are supporting parents, allowing them to keep their kids to learn remotely on a temporary basis. It seems that some Head Teachers are using a good dose of common sense whereas others aren’t. It’s a head teacher lottery. How can there be one rule for one and another for another parent? Whilst others are being granted code C in the register (authorised absence – other) I am being chased by ‘Early Help’ which is not only irrelevant (their guidelines last updated in 2013) but quite frankly insulting and a waste of tax payers’ money.

If only local councils and schools put as much effort into chasing the Government to mitigate for aerosol transmission in schools as they did parents who are protecting their children from a deadly virus….The stress has been intolerable. Below I have copied and pasted sections of emails from the Head Teacher in which she implies she will off-roll my children which I have since found out is unlawful, so long as she knows where we are (she does – I’m in contact with the school daily.) 

Here is one email:

Now that schools are fully re-open, attendance is mandatory and so I am unable to keep children on roll indefinitely when they are not attending. For persistent non-attendance, I am obliged to refer to the local authority. I have included relevant links below about the attendance enforcement procedure.

In another email yet again, the Head Teacher I reiterated that:

I am unable to keep children on roll indefinitely, in cases of elective prolonged non-attendance.

I pointed out that I want my kids to be in school. They want to be in school. But just as I wouldn’t send them into a burning building simply because the Government says I must, I won’t expose them to an environment highly conducive to the spread of Covid 19.

Parents like me who are willing and able to teach their children remotely for the time should be supported, not bullied. As Independent Sage of repeatedly stated, we need fewer children in the classrooms so surely we are doing the school a favour by keeping our children at home? We certainly shouldn’t be treated like criminals. Thank you for your time and all the work you’re putting in to shine a light on the many issues surrounding Covid.

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