How do the Local Authorities help children with EBSA?
Local authorities can provide support for children who are struggling to attend school due to anxiety in several ways:
- Assess the child’s needs and produce an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) if necessary.
- Work with the school to develop a graduated return to school plan/flexible timetable, where the child can gradually increase their time in school.
- Provide or arrange for alternative education, such as home education or education in a specialist provision, if necessary.
- Offer support and advice to parents and carers to help them understand and manage the child’s anxiety.
What if the child is still struggling – can the LEA take legal action?
Yes, the local education authority has a number of legal steps it can take to secure regular attendance, these steps include:
- Warning letter: The LEA can send a warning letter to the parent or guardian, reminding them of their legal responsibility to ensure their child’s attendance at school and outlining the consequences of continued non-attendance.
- Education welfare officer: An education welfare officer (EWO) can be assigned to the child and family to provide support and guidance and to help develop an action plan for improving the child’s attendance at school.
- Parenting contract: A parenting contract can be agreed upon between the parent or guardian and the LEA, which outlines specific actions that the parent must take to improve the child’s attendance at school.
- Penalty Notice: If the child continues to miss school, the LEA may issue a penalty notice, which is a fine of £60 per parent per child, if paid within 21 days, or £120 per parent per child if paid within 28 days. If the fine is not paid, the LEA can take legal action against the parent.
- Prosecution: If the child continues to miss school and the parent or guardian does not take appropriate action to improve the child’s attendance, the LEA can take legal action against the parent or guardian and they can be prosecuted under the Education Act 1996.
- Education supervision order: As a last resort, the LEA can apply for an education supervision order which places the child under the supervision of a designated officer. The officer will then have the power to direct the child’s education and ensure the child’s regular attendance.