top of page

The new campaign by the department of education is harmful and shortsighted: Here is why.

Updated: Apr 2

Written by Emma Dalmayne

Have you seen the new campaign by the Department of Education yet? It uses the tag line: Moments Matter, Attendance Counts.


Moments Matter….

Moments to feel safe. Moments to feel heard. Moments to enjoy. Moments to rest. Moments to thrive, to grow.

Attendance Counts.

It can count, yes. It can count towards self injuring. It can contribute to mental health issues. It can successfully propel a child to many a meltdown.


What this campaign is doing is using images of children seemingly blissfully happy playing or walking with their peeers with captions stating for example:

“This morning she was worried about school….. but look at her now!”.

“This morning he had a runny nose… but look at him now!”.

“This morning he was worried about school….but look at him now!”.

This trivialises that a child was ‘worried this morning’ and glorifies the fact that they are masking so ‘look at him/her now’.

On the 4th of January, the second day most of the school’s here in London went back, we were contacted by a concerned parent.

Their daughter was having a very hard time going into school and suffering from extreme anxiety.

The school was dismissive of the parent and the child’s concerns.

The daughter is 11 years old and is dyslexic and undiagnosed autistic.

The daughter, Violet, was desperately unhappy and the parent has arrived at the difficult decision to deregister her from school and start home educating.


The decision to withdraw a child from school to home educate them is never made with ease.

The parent will have agonised over it, playing out every possible way it could go wrong.

They will have worried that their child will miss out, that they will not be capable of teaching them and that it’s all a dreadful mistake; that their child will be lonely and cut off from the world.

By the time they have arrived at the decision, they are desperate for their child to smile again.

For their child not to be so distressed they are having panic attacks and thoughts of not wanting to live anymore.

So two of AIM’s Director’s Emma and Owen made a home visit, they sat down with the parent and discussed the options available and explained that under section 7, 8.6 of the Education Act it is legal to home educate your child.

All you need to do is notify the school asking that they remove your child’s name from their school roll, that you will now be home educating and that you will be taking responsibilty for your childs education.

This can be done by email or hard copy, or both for good measure.

Once you’ve done that you don’t have to accept calls from the school or attend any meetings with them.

Your legal obligation to them is done.

If your child is in a SEN school then you must get permission from the local authority, but if it’s a mainstream school you’re good to go.

They drafted the deregistration letter and the parent sent it via email that evening.

The school’s reaction was appalling.

They repeatedly phoned the parent, left voice messages demanding they talk to them and said they would not be removing Violet’s name from the school roll until more information was given and a meeting had taken place.

After over three days of this bombardment, two of AIM’S directors Jenny and Emma met the parent and Violet at a local cafe and called the school.

Emma spoke to the attendance officer and explained that the parents legal obligation to notify them and correspond with them ended as soon as that deregisteration email was sent and that refusing to remove Violet’s name from the school roll was in fact illegal.

She then asked that they stop calling and emailing as it was distressing to both the parent and the child, and that the parent would not be meeting them or discussing it any further.

They have not heard from the school since.

Below is an account by Violet that she wrote in her new book for stories:

“What School Can Do.

Before I go to school in the morning, I am scared and not just a little bit of anxiety; actually scared and the closer I am to getting ready the closer I am to stepping into school.

I can’t even sleep at night because of what might happen.

As I step into school I hold my tears in and it makes me have a really sore throat. I get pushed off in a crowd with people banging and bumping into me and people screaming, and I’m just trying to find my class because I have no idea where it is. There is north side and the south side but how am I supposed to know which ones north and which ones south, and then they just tell me to go right or left and I dont know my right or left.

They haven’t done anything for my dyslexia all they did was put me at the front of the class which doesn’t help at all it just makes things worse, and they gave me a coloured sheet which didn’t help ever.

I’ve got no friends there and no one liked me. I just cant be my self so I put on a I’m ok face when really I just want to burst out in tears.

So now I am home schooled this massive brain weight has fallen off me and I just feel so much better now than I could ever feel.”

The parent has said that Violet has started singing again, a sound not heard in the home for a long time.

We are delighted that Violet is feeling so much better.

Below is a drawing Violet did of herself in school, and how she now feels out of school.

A direct quote from the parent from the evening they sent the letter in:

“Thank you so much you really are a star. Violet is so much more relaxed now she can’t stop smiling since you were here. I’m just about to send email. I am really excited to be involved in a way I can in AIM. She is so happy. I really can’t express how much you’ve helped us. Looking forward to the future . Definitely a happy new year. Xx”.

So please make up your own minds, don’t be pressured into sending your child into school if they are not thriving, because honestly; just coping is not enough.





bottom of page