Inside the school where PARENTS are pupils: Unruly children are joined by their mothers in the classroom in a bid to get them back into mainstream education
- The Family School helps excluded children back into mainstream education
- The programme invites parents to attend lessons and therapy with the children
- Maia, Logan and Danish had all been excluded from their primary schools
- Their parents received therapy to help them get to the root of their problems
A new TV programme offered a look inside a pioneering school which helps so-called ‘problem children’ who have been excluded from the classroom.
The Family School, in London, aims to help get pupils get back into mainstream education by inviting their parents to join them as they attend lessons and take part in therapy sessions.
BBC One’s Back to School with Mum & Dad told the stories of three primary school pupils, aged between seven and nine, who had been excluded from their own schools over violent outbursts, disruptive behaviour and low attendance.
Cameras followed the children and their parents as they explored the reasons behind their issues, with all three coming to the realisation that it was rooted in complex family problems.
Fatima is brought into The Family School to help professionals work out why her son Danish is misbehaving
Nine-year-old Danish was forced to leave four schools in just three years because of his violent behaviour. He would lash out at teachers when they told him what to do and had even had to be physically restrained by staff.
Cameras filmed his mother Fatima as she took part in a therapy session in which she leaned how Danish’s anger stemmed from his father abandoning the family.
He was just five years old when he discovered his father had a secret wife and son and kept the knowledge secret from his mother for an entire year.
Fatima, who gave up her own education to support Danish, said she found it easier to communicate with her son once she understood the root of his problems.
The Family School is the only place in the UK where excluded children and their parents are brought together to learn.
Danish, nine, would react violently to teachers whenever they told him what to do
The programme also followed eight-year-old Maia, who was prone to violent outbursts and was permanently excluded from her primary school having spent most of her education outside the classroom.
As a working mother, Maia’s mother Marina could only go into the school once a week, but her daughter appeared to work better when she was present.
When Marina was not there, Maia’s temper would quickly flare. On one occasion she screamed, swore and scribbled on the walls.
On one school outing to the park he had to be restrained by his teachers when he argued with another pupil
Danish, nine, had been to four schools in just three years before he was sent to The Family School due to his anger management problems
WHAT IS THE FAMILY SCHOOL?
The Family School works with children who have difficulty attending mainstream schools because of their behaviour return to their old schools.
They teach children in smaller groups in specialised classrooms so they are able to give them more attention.
Twelve children, each with their parent or carer, attend the school at any one time.
The school works with Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, a children’s mental health centre.
They are given lessons to maintain their economic development, but will also receive therapy sessions individually and with their parents.
The therapists put Maia’s anger issues down to insecurity, which she may have developed as a response to her father leaving the family when she was two.
Even at that young age she was still aware of her parents’ arguments, and recalled standing between Marina and her ex partner when they had a row.
This shocked her mother, who said: ‘Its surprising that she remembers so much, that she recalls those things and its upsetting because its negative. You understand that disagreements are a part of life but it’s negative, it’s a negative impact on a child.’
The school resolved that Marina would call into the school to speak to Maia every day during her lunch hour, and would use her time off work to come into school for her daughter regularly.
Meanwhile seven-year-old Logan had been excluded from school over his low attendance record.
The schoolboy had separation anxiety when he was apart from his mother Bobbie, who suffers from severe depression and chose to keep her son out of school with her for moral support on her darkest days.
He had not regularly attended mainstream school for two years.
When he was at school, he would throw tantrums and wait outside his headteacher’s office, demanding to be sent home to his mother.
Maia, eight, was prone to violent outbursts and was permanently excluded from her primary school, but her working mum Marina couldn’t make it into The Family School every day
The little girl had a meltdown and began ripping displays off the walls after a disagreement with a teaching assistant
The therapists put Maia’s anger issues down to insecurity, which she may have developed as a reaction to her father leaving the family when she was two
However the problems continued at The Family School, with his mother phoning in sick on his behalf and offering questionable excuses for his absence.
When the mother and son sat down with therapists, Bobbie came to understand that she relied on her son for emotional support through her depression.
She said: ‘I had totally lost myself, I would get very depressed, I would stay in my bed. What I have batted around more is about my mental health and I thought I hid it quite well.
‘Obviously the older kids knew sometimes that mummy was really not well, but I thought I managed to hide it for Logan. Obviously I never.’
Logan, seven, has separation anxiety from his mother Bobbie, who suffers from severe depression, and would miss a lot of school
Logan would throw tantrums and wait outside his old headteacher’s office demanding to be sent home to his mum
The school worked with Bobbie to manage Logan’s attendance by asking her to seek help for her depression so he wouldn’t feel guilty about leaving her
The school worked with Bobbie to manage Logan’s attendance by asking her to seek help for her depression so he wouldn’t feel guilty about leaving his mother.
They also took his attendance day by day, marking it down on a chart to measure when he’d done a full week.
By the end of filming he was able to return to mainstream school.
The Family School in London is the only place in the UK for children who have been excluded from mainstream school that asks parents to come to school with their children
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