Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mother facing jail for refusing to send teenage daughter to school claiming 'isolation unit' breaches her human rights | THE UNHIVED MIND

Mother facing jail for refusing to send teenage daughter to school claiming ‘isolation unit’ breaches her human rights

by Paul Sims,
November 7th 2011

A mother is at war with her daughter’s school after the teenage girl was sent to an isolation room for a day for an offence she did not commit.

Teachers had suspected Faye Allen of playing truant, but later discovered she had been out of lessons with a headache.

Her mother Pam, 48, complained about her punishment in the ‘humiliating and degrading’ unit which she said was ‘like a prison cell’.

She then withdrew the 16-year-old from class in protest.

Now education bosses have written to the former soldier to warn that she could be jailed unless her only child returns to lessons immediately.

Last night, Miss Allen declared she will continue her protest until the isolation unit at St Helena School in Colchester, Essex, is shut and insisted she was prepared to go to prison.

‘Faye does not want her mother to be put in prison and I don’t want to be behind bars,’ said the single mother, who works as a property developer. ‘But sometimes you have to take a stand for what you believe in and against those who I believe are not conforming to human rights law.

‘These isolation rooms are humiliating and degrading. We don’t even put our prisoners through such treatment and you are talking about young children at a vulnerable age.’

St Helena’s isolation unit is similar to others which have been opened across the country in recent years.

Pupils spend from 9am to 3.15pm in the room in complete silence, doing schoolwork at desks facing the walls with just 20 minutes for lunch. Anyone wanting to speak has to raise their hand. For calls of nature, they need to see the pastoral carer and be accompanied to the toilet. Miss Allen added: ‘As a mother, I ask myself “Would I be happy to punish my daughter in that way?” and I have to conclude that I would not.

‘I have been shown round the room. There is only one window with a blind and they have crammed six desks in. It is like a large prison cell.’

She said Faye had an excellent attendance record of 90 per cent until the incident in March. But when she discovered her daughter had been sent to the isolation unit, she refused to send her back.

The letter from the council stating it is ‘confident of being able to secure a conviction’ if Ms Allen fails to send Faye to school

Faye added: ‘The room is horrible. It made me feel awful just being in there and I know there are a lot of other pupils who feel the same. I don’t like being out of school because I want to learn and pass my GCSEs but there is no way I can go back to that school. Just the idea of it makes me scared.’

The teenager has since been tutored for her exams at home.

Her mother appealed to teachers to drop the tough disciplinary measure but was told she had no say in the matter.

Miss Allen has arranged for friends and family to look after Faye should she be imprisoned. She stressed that she supported disciplining pupils who misbehave, but the isolation unit was ‘simply too much’.

A school spokesman said: ‘We always strive to ensure the young people in our care maximise their potential.

‘For this reason, our priority is to ensure all students attend school.’

An Essex County Council spokesman said: ‘By law, all children of compulsory school age must receive a suitable full-time education.

‘Once a child is registered at a school, parents are legally responsible for making sure the child attends regularly. If a child fails to do so, parents risk getting a penalty notice or being prosecuted.’

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