National and International support group for grandparents denied contact with their grandchildren. Patron Dame Esther Rantzen
Friday, 28 January 2011
Letter in Association of Teachers and Lecturers(ATL) Report Magazine.
Thank you to all concerned.
There are so many heartbreaks and dilemmas facing young people within the school community, we have large numbers of children who are from different family backgrounds, and some are hidden except for those children going through it.
We hear a great deal about our fractured families but do we really know what that means to the children in our care?
There are over one million children in the UK who are denied contact with their grandparents due to family breakdown, this can be as a result of separation/divorce,drug/alcohol misuse,domestic violence,bereavement or family feud.
In lots of these cases the children not only are struggling with not seeing one of their parents but also not seeing their extended family.
How many children in your class are going through this?
Thursday, 27 January 2011
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Memories of Mike's Grandpa and how it should be.
My Grandpa died a couple of hours ago. I went to see him this afternoon. I held his hand for a long while, and even though he was in pain, he gave me a wink and another “bye bye”. The doctor then came and authorised an injection of Diamorphine, and my mum, my two aunts and my wife and I waited as he stubbornly resisted the temptation to fall asleep. Defiant to the end.
We left a few hours before he died, but he never woke up from the sleep we saw him enter. It was silly how I found out, actually – my mum rang me to let me know, and my phone didn’t bloody pick it up even though it was in the same room as me. Typical. I’m sad now but at the same time I’m happy, because my Grandpa only ever truly loved one woman – my Grandma, who I never knew as she died when I was only a year old – and now he’s with her again. He’ll like that.
I’ll always remember catching practise. When I was in my teens I used to go after school to 37 Linden Road, where Grandpa lived, and we’d spend hours in the lounge throwing and catching a cricket ball together. Before long I became a crazy-awesome catcher, all down to his tutelage. We often used to sit there watching the football, and whichever player didn’t live up to his high standards was a “bloody idiot”: his insult of choice. He was qualified to make the assessment, of course, as he had been a superb footballer himself, winning caps for England’s youth team and playing for Bristol City as a rather good defender. I wish I’d inherited his skills but unfortunately I didn’t, and I don’t know whether I ever made him proud of me. But I was definitely proud of him. He lived a full life, and a lot of people loved him. It appears that I’m now the eldest male member of his family, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I have big shoes to fill.
I love you so much, Grandpa. You were one of the most important people in my life, and I value every single moment that I spent with you. I miss you so much already – the sarcasm, the dry wit, but above all, the sense that you were always in my corner, that we were a team. Nothing will ever replace that. Nor should anything. Thank you for being the best Grandpa anyone could ever hope for. I was so proud to be your grandson. Goodbye.
Dad couldn't see his children so ended his life.
Sunday, 23 January 2011
Emotions Run High.
Jenni Pascoe’s anniversary party speech
Jenni’s painful story of missing out on a relationship with her father had a very powerful effect on her audience at the anniversary party. .
“Hello, my name is Jenni and I have only recently found Families Need Fathers, although I have been passionate about this cause my whole life, due to my
own personal experience. When I was almost 3 years old my mother and father decided to divorce. This proved to be the most important decision ever made in my life. I was too young at first to know what was really going on. After the divorce, my dad was denied any access to me at all for five weeks, and then was allowed supervised access for about a year, until one day when he brought me home early feeling ill. My mum decided he would no longer be allowed to see me. That day would be the last time I had any contact with my father, or his side of my family, until I was 18 years old. I was confused. I only really knew him as this man who I saw on a Sunday, and suddenly he was gone.
I only realised the significance of this about a year later, when I was at school, and other children were preparing for Father’s Day. Who was my father? He was that man I used to see, but where had he gone?
I knew my mum was going to court a lot, but the details were always hidden from me. I couldn’t talk about him at home, and if I tried, I was just told I didn’t need him. My mum never referred to him as my ‘Dad’. It was always some derogatory name. There were no photos of him. They’d all been destroyed. I suppose she hoped I would just forget about him. Every day, I longed to know him, knowing I was missing someone vital, but not knowing who he was.
My mum and dad were regularly in and out of court. My dad was repeatedly granted access, only to be turned away, never getting to see me or even speak to me. Eventually, after four years of getting nowhere, he reluctantly gave up trying. My mum tried to hide it from me, and all my questions went unanswered. It was grown-ups’ business. She thought she was protecting me, and doing the right thing for me, but her judgement was clouded by her own feelings towards my father.
I was very fortunate, my gran and granddad were there. My mum, with a lot of help from her parents gave me a fantastic upbringing. I was well cared for, in a house full of love, and I will be eternally grateful for the way I was looked after, but there was still a space they couldn’t fill; the space where my father should have been. I loved my home and my family. I just wanted him to be a part of my life as well .
I thought about him every day, always wondering what he was like or if I was like him, but never being able to talk about it. Had I done something wrong? Why was I not allowed a dad? At the age of about eight, I met with a social worker. She asked me if I wanted to see my father, and though I desperately wanted to meet him, I adamantly said that I never wanted to see him again, under the instruction of my mum, who had told me I could be taken away if
I said I wanted to see him. I suppose she was scared she might lose me, but I was scared too. I was terrified that what I’d said would mean I’d never see my dad again for the rest of my life. My heart was torn, and I didn’t understand why this had to happen. Why couldn’t I see them both? Every day, hoping I’d bump into him, looking out for him, without knowing what he looked like. Checking the post and jumping at the sound of the phone, for a split second thinking this could be ‘him’. I could never tell mum how I really felt, she wouldn’t understand. She hated my dad, and thought I should automatically feel the same. To her face, I would agree with her to gain her approval, subduing my own feelings to protect hers, but feeling so guilty every time I spoke a bad word about him, knowing I was betraying him. In my heart I believed he was a good man, and I knew how hard he’d fought for me, and I longed so much for him to be in my life.
When I was almost 18, my dad wrote to me, asking if I’d like to meet. My heart leapt! This was my dream come true. I suppose I almost thought I would get my childhood with him back again, but obviously this wasn’t the case. Those years had been lost forever. To this day, my mum has never known that I replied to that letter ,or that I met my dad and got to know him. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. All I ever wanted was to know my dad, but now I finally did, I felt like I was betraying my mum.
It was quite difficult for my dad and I to build a relationship after so long apart, we both had our own lives, and our own problems going on, and there was so much we didn’t know about one another. Now I’m 30, and good friends with both my mum and my dad and I love them both, but I still have the scars. Emotionally, I am still very immature; I struggle with relationships and no-one is allowed too close, in case I lose them too. I am still angry at the system that allowed this to happen. My mother’s biased emotions were allowed to dictate the rest of our lives, whereas the feelings of myself and my father counted for nothing. She was allowed to freely ignore the decision of the court as she wished, without penalty, and without good reason, and without any idea of the effect it would have on my future. My story is all too common.
I cannot believe, that 25 years down the line, this is still allowed to happen. That others are made to live through this unnecessary pain, and little has changed. This is why I speak to you today, in the hope that we can put an end to this injustice. What more can I say? Families Need Fathers.”
McKenzie No 87.
Saturday, 22 January 2011
Why does Parental Alienation Happen?
Whenever possible the parent will tell the child negative things about the other parent and so the child learns that one parent seems to be ‘bad.’
Sometimes the child will behave particularly badly with the ‘rejected’ parent and they can appear ungrateful and they will join in the negative talk about the ‘bad’ parent, they feel they must be loyal to the ‘good’ parent.
The child will often use totally inappropriate language when talking about their parent, language that they have maybe overheard or have been taught.
The ‘good’ parent will possibly restrict contact with the other parent and grandparents, they may prevent the child from learning about the other parents interests and the things they like to do,and discourage any good thoughts or happy memories that the child might have.
They will break down any respect the child will have for that parent and undermine them.
The ‘good’ parent will make the child feel that if they spend time with the other parent they will be hurt and lonely.
They might suggest that the child no longer calls the ‘bad’ parent Mum or Dad but refers to them by their first name, and to call any new partner Mum or Dad.
Some parents are so angry and enveloped by their own unhappiness they can’t see that it is essential that the child needs and deserves the love of both parents and grandparents.
They feel the need to control.
For the parent/grandparent who is losing or who has lost contact the feeling of hopelessness is enormous. Some say it is like a living bereavement. As a grandparent we can feel ashamed , you think that you should be able to make it right but you can’t.
Children learn very quickly, ‘which side their bread is buttered’ and they have to live out their lives in their own way, if that means taking sides ,then they will.
As we all know it is so much easier if we just agree rather than question!
Thursday, 20 January 2011
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Saturday, 15 January 2011
Friday, 14 January 2011
Schools Guidance-Parental Responsibility
Title Schools, “Parents” and “Parental Responsibility”
Subject Category Home and Community
Audience Head teachers of all schools
Status Guidance on the law and good practice
Date of issue
Legislation: Education Act 1996 (Section 576). Children Act 1989
DfES/0092/2000: Schools, “Parents” and “Parental Responsibility”
This guidance informs schools who is a parent for the purposes of education legislation; provides a brief description of court orders which settle areas of dispute about a child’s care or upbringing and which can limit an individual’s parental responsibility; and sets out some general principles to guide schools as to whom they should involve in a child’s education and whom they should keep informed about school matters; and advises on good practice.
This guidance should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law. Schools should consider taking independent legal advice about any particular set of circumstances. The term ‘resident’ and ‘non-resident’ are used to distinguish between parents who live with a child and those who do not. In this guidance we are careful to differentiate between legal requirement and good practice. We use “must” for a duty in. We use “can” for a power (not a duty) under statutory or common law. We use “should” for advice on good practice.
Schools to apply this guidance when dealing with non-resident parents, others who have parental responsibility and those that have care of a child, who wish to be involved in their children’s education.
Put in PCU address and phone 0870 000 2288 and email address
The guidance can be found at the following website
Definition of “parent”
Definition of “parental responsibility”
Who has parental responsibility?
Court orders and parental responsibility
What schools should do:
· General principle
· Provision of information to parents
· Obtaining parental consent to off-site educational visits and activities
· Consent to medical treatment
· Medication in schools
· Informing parents about an accident during an educational visit
· Sex and relationship education (SRE)
· Religious education and collective worship
1. Schools are required by law to have a wide range of communication with pupils’ parents. (For examples, see paragraph 16). The question “Who are a pupil’s parents?” is, however, not always as straightforward as it sounds. In addition, schools canfind themselves caught up in disputes between a number of adults who each claim to have parental responsibility for a particular child.
2. The welfare of the particular child will be the paramount consideration for schools. However, situations will arise from time to time where a parent’s action,or proposed action, conflicts with the school’s ability to act in the best interests of the child. In such cases, school staff should try to resolve the problem with that parent but should avoid becoming involved in any conflict.
3. This note:
· Explains who is a parent for the purposes of education legislation; and
· Provides a brief description of court orders which settle areas of dispute about a child’s care or upbringing and which can limit an individual’s parental responsibility; and
· Sets out some general principles to guide schools as to who they must involve in issues about a child's education and who they must keep informed about school matters.
4. This guidance should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law. Schools should consider taking independent legal advice about any particular individual set of circumstances. The term ‘resident’ and ‘non-resident’ are used to distinguish between parents who live with a child and those who do not.
DEFINITION OF “PARENT”
5. For the purposes of education legislation, the meaning of the term “parent”  has a particular meaning that is wider than its ‘ordinary’ meaning. It includes not only the child’s father and mother but also:
· Any other person who has parental responsibility for a child or young person; and
· Any other person who has care of a child or young person, that is, a person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child.
DEFINITION OF “PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY”
6. Having parental responsibility  means having all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent of a child has by law in relation to that child.
7. The parental responsibility of one party does not stop simply because another person is also given it. So, in some cases, several people may have parental responsibility and may, therefore, be regarded, for the purposes of education law, as being a “parent” of a child.
WHO HAS PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY?
8. Parents married to each other at the time of a child’s birth both have parental responsibility for that child.
9. If the parents of a child were not married to each other when the child was born, the mother automatically has parental responsibility but the father does not, unless he has subsequently acquired it in one of the following ways. By:
· Registering as the child’s father by jointly registering with the mother the birth of the child, if the child was born on or after 1 December 2003. If the child was born before 1 December 2003, the fact that the father is named on the birth certificate does not give him parental responsibility;
· Entering into an agreement with the child’s mother that he will have parental responsibility. To have legal effect, the agreement must be in the prescribed form and registered in the prescribed manner;
· Court order;
· Marrying the mother of the child.
10. A person, other than a child’s natural parents, can acquire parental responsibility through:
· Being granted a residence order;
· Being granted a special guardianship order;
· Being appointed a guardian;
· Being named in an emergency protection order (although parental responsibility in such a case is limited to taking reasonable steps to safeguard or promote the child's welfare); or
· Adopting a child.
11. A step-parent (whether the relationship is the result of marriage or civil partnership) may also acquire parental responsibility for a child of their spouse or civil partner, either by agreement between the step-parent and the parents who have parental responsibility for the child, or by order of the court.
12. In addition, a local authority can acquire parental responsibility if it is named in the care order for a child, although any person who is a parent or guardian retains parental responsibility and may exercise it providing their actions are not incompatible with the care order. While the care order is in force, the local authority can limit the extent to which parents can exercise their parental responsibility, where it is necessary in order to promote or safeguard the child’s welfare. The local authority can temporarily terminate contact between a parent and a child in care where this is necessary in order to promote or safeguard the child’s welfare or there may be a court order authorising the local authority to refuse contact between a parent and a child in care. Children can also be “accommodated” by the local authority, where there is a joint arrangement between the parents and the local authority that the latter will look after the child. This does not, however, involve a court order and the parents can withdraw from the arrangement if they choose to do so.
COURT ORDERS AND PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
13. Court orders under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 (often called “section 8 orders”) settle areas of dispute about a child's care or upbringing after parent separator divorce. These orders can limit the extent an individual parental responsibility. There are two types of order which are concerned with particular issues and which still allow everyone with parental responsibility to participate in all other major decisions about a child’s education:
· A prohibited steps order imposes a specific restriction on the exercise of parental responsibility. This means that action which a parent could otherwise take in the exercise of parental responsibility cannot be taken without the consent of the court. For example, the order might prevent one parent taking the child abroad for an extended period or prevent the child from attending a form of religious worship against the wishes of the other parent.
· A specific issue order is an order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific question which has arisen, or may arise, in connection with any aspect of the exercise of parental responsibility. An example would be an order allowing one parent to arrange for a child to be admitted to a particular school against the wishes of the other parent.
14. ther types of order are:
· A residence order, which says where and with whom a child should live, and gives the person in whose favour the order is made parental responsibility for the child (if he or she does not already have it).
· A contact order, which instructs the person with whom the child is living to allow another person to visit the child, have the child to visit or stay with him or her, or have contact by letter or telephone.
15. Where a court is satisfied that the child is at risk of significant harm, it can make a care order which gives parental responsibility to a local authority. See paragraph 12.
WHAT SCHOOLS MUST/SHOULD DO
16. Everyone who is a parent for the purposes of education legislation (see paragraph 5) has rights and responsibilities in relation to their child’s education; even though, for day to day purposes, the school’s main contact is likely to be a parent with whom the child lives on school days. This means that all non-resident parents enjoy the same rights as resident parents to access information about their children’s progress at school, except, of course, where a court order provides otherwise. For example, all parents can expect to be:
· Sent information by the school both of a general nature (e.g. the school profile), and in relation to their own child (e.g. report on the child’s progress and attainment);
· Informed if special educational provision is made for the child at the school;
· Given the opportunity to participate in school activities (e.g. vote in elections for parent governors, attend events held for parents at the school) and to meet with school staff e.g. to discuss their child’s report;
· Told about meetings regarding the child (e.g. a governors’ meeting to review the child’s exclusion from school).
17. All parents also have obligations, for example to ensure that a child of compulsory school age receives a suitable full-time education.
18. Head teachers -
· Should ask the parent who registers the child at the school for the names and addresses of all the child’s parents (within the definition in 576Education Act 1996);
· Must ensure these details, where known, are included in the admission register;
· Should ensure that the names and addresses of all parents are also included in pupil records (which need to be kept up to date) and are available to the child's teachers;
· Should ensure that the school has details of who to contact in the case of an accident or medical emergency;
· Should ensure the information is forwarded to any school to which the child moves.
19. Details of court orders (where known) should also be noted in a pupil's record. Such information will be necessary when deciding who can give parental permission for a school visit, or who needs to be contacted if the child is ill, as well as what to do in more difficult situations - for example, if a parent, rather than a foster-parent, comes to collect a child in local authority care from school.
20. Problems can arise following the break down of a marriage in relation to the surname by which a child is known. For example, a mother with whom a child resides following divorce may ask the school to change the child’s name in its records, perhaps to her maiden name. If a residence order or a care order is in force, no one is allowed to change the child’s surname without the written consent of every other person who has parental responsibility for the child. Schools should be very cautious about making any change to a child’s name in its records unless there is good evidence that the parent seeking to make the change has legal authority to take this step. The best evidence would, of course, be the written consent of the other parent.
Provision of information to parents
21. In cases where the school does not know the whereabouts of a ‘non-resident’ parent (see paragraph 5), it should inform the resident parent that the non-resident parent is entitled to be involved in the child’s education; and request that information is passed on to the non-resident parent. If the resident parent refuses to share information with the non-resident parent or to provide contact details so that the school can deal directly with the non-resident parent, the school can do nothing more. However, if the non-resident parent subsequently contacts the school and requests access to information, the school should provide it to that parent direct - after taking reasonable steps to satisfy itself that the individual is, in fact, the child’s parent.
22. Where there is a court order for no contact with a non-resident parent, schools might wish to consult the non-resident parent and child (depending on their age and understanding) and, where necessary, seek legal advice.
23. Parents have a right to see their child’s educational record. However, occasions can arise where children do not wish their parent to have access to personal information about them. The extent to which the child can exercise their own rights to data protection and privacy will depend on the individual child’s age and understanding. Generally, where a child is sufficiently mature to understand the decision they are making, that decision should be respected. If necessary, schools might wish to seek legal advice.
Obtaining parental consent to
24. It is customary for schools to obtain parental consent for some types of off-site visit or activities, usually when these occur outside school time: for example visits that are overnight or abroad and adventure activities. See chapter 5 Communicating with Parents in ‘Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits: a good practice guide’. Together with an information sheet, a consent form can be used to obtain not only consent but information about a child that may help the group leader. But obtaining consent is not a legal requirement. In the absence of a section 8 order to the contrary, there is no legal requirement for schools to obtain the consent of all “parents” before taking the child on an educational visit or off-site activity. Only a parent who has parental responsibility may give consent. Where more than one person has parental responsibility for a child, each of them may act alone and without the others in meeting that responsibility . Where the school needs a parental consent for off-site activity, the head teacher should normally seek the consent of the resident parent.
25. Where the non-resident parent has asked the school to provide information about the child, the school should inform them that the resident parent has or has not given permission for their child to participate in extra-curricula activities and school trips.
26. In cases where the school considers it necessary to seek consent ment, to approach all parents who have parental responsibility, it is possible that one gives consent and other withholds it. The school should treat the situation as one in which parental consent has not been given to the child undertaking the activity in question.
Consent to medical treatment
28. A person (such as a head teacher) who does not have parental responsibility but, nonetheless, has care of a child may “do what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare”. For example, it is clearly reasonable for the school to take a child who has been injured to hospital. However, the parents - including any non-resident parent who has asked to be kept informed of events concerning the child - should be informed as soon as possible. The power to dispense with the need to obtain prior consent from the child’s parents is limited to genuine emergencies
Medication in schools
29. The joint DfES/Department of Health guidance Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Year Settings explains the roles and responsibilities of employers, parents and carers and local health services. It provides guidance for all schools and early years settings on developing local policies on managing and administering children's medicines, and establishing safe and effective management systems, to support individual children with medical needs. No pupil under 16 should be given medication without his/her parent’s written consent. The consent of one person with parental responsibility (normally the one who has arranged with the school for medicines to be administered to the child in school) is sufficient. The guidance can be found on the Teachernet website.
Informing parents about an accident during an educational visit
30. If an accident occurs during an off-site educational visit, the individual school is best placed to determine whether a non-resident parent should be notified separately or whether the resident parent can be relied upon to inform the non-resident parent, having regard to that local authority’s guidance.
Sex and relationship education (SRE)
31. Schools should make all parents aware of their right to withdraw their children from all or part of the SRE provided at school except for those parts that are required by the science curriculum. Schools are not required to consult each parent individually about this right, but rather it is for the parents who want to withdraw his/her child from SRE to approach the school and explain their wishes. Those elements of sex education that form part of statutory science lessons are compulsory and parents have no right to withdraw their child from these. Schools are not required to consult each parent with parental responsibility about the withdrawal of a child from SRE. The Department’s SRE guidance (DfEE 0116/2000), paragraph 5.6, states that "Schools should always work in partnership with parents, consulting them regularly on the content of their SRE programmes. Parents need to know that the school's SRE programme will complement and support their role as parents and that they can be actively involved in the determination of the school's policy."
32. If a parent, including a non-resident parent, requests to withdraw the child from SRE then they should be withdrawn. Schools should inform the parent who hasn’t made the request of this decision.
Religious Education and Collective Worship
33. Schools should make parents aware of their rights to withdraw a child from these aspects of the curriculum, but it is for the parent who wishes to withdraw his/her child from RE and or collective worship to approach the school, if they wish to exercise these rights. Parents have the right to ask that their child/ren be withdrawn from all or any parts of religious education and/or collective worship. They do not have to give a reason, and schools are expected to comply with the request. Schools are expected to work with parents on finding a suitable alternative activity while the other children are taking part in religious education or collective worship.
 Section 576(1) of the Education Act 1996
 Section 3(1) of the Children Act 1989
 Section 2(1) of the Children Act 1989.
 Section 2(2) of the Children Act 1989
 Section 4 of the Children Act 1989
 See the Parental Responsibility Agreement Regulations 1991, amended by SI 2001/2262
 Section 14A of the Children Act 1989
 A guardian may be appointed by court order or by a child’s parent in accordance with section 5 of the Children act 1989
 Section 4A of the Children Act 1989
 Section 33 of the Children Act 1989
 Section 34(6) of the Children Act 1989
 Section 34(4) of the Children Act 1989
 Section 20 of the Children Act 1989
 Section 434(2) of the Education Act 1996
 Section 13 and section 33(7)(a) of the Children Act 1989
 Section 2(7) of the Children Act 1989
 Section 3(5) of the Children Act 1989
 Section 405 of the Education Act 1996