November 15, 2003
Alas all too believable

I almost completely agree with Alice Bachini, about this:

The father of a persistent truant has said he would rather go to prison than force his bullied child to attend school.

Gary Standford is facing prosecution by his local education authority over 15-year-old Darren's failure to attend Tunbridge Wells High School in Kent. But he claims that forcing his son to go to the school would be the equivalent of child abuse, as he is being hounded by a gang of bullies.

"Putting him into a new school or college would solve everything but putting me in to prison – well all that would mean is there will be no one to look after my child," he said. Mr Standford, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, is due in court soon unless the matter can be resolved.

Alice says that, on the face of it, this is unbelievable, which is the only bit in her posting about this that I don't fully agree with.


A spokesman for Kent County Council said taking parents to court was always a last resort. "The education welfare officers have been in contact with the family over a number of months and bullying has not been mentioned as a factor before. No-one wants this to happen but it seems to have been the only way."

In other words, if Kent County Council are to be believed, Dad could have just made it up to excuse his dereliction of duty.

Personally, I don't think that a child not attending a school should require an explanation, any more than me walking out of HMV Oxford Street the other day without having bought any classical CDs – which, this time really unbelievably, did actually happen – requires me to explain myself to HMV. (Or to put it another way: in education as with most other things - such as transport - number 37.)

Nevertheless, the rules being the rules they now are, Dad has accused Kent Council of wanting to abuse children, and Kent Council are calling him a liar.

Or, the Telegraph has made it up, which should not be discounted, as anyone who has ever had direct dealings with a newspaper-reported event will almost certainly know.

Sounds like there'll be more to hear of this story. The Council certainly seem to have raised the stakes.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:44 PM
Category: BullyingCompulsion