My son (who is now 15) is the subject of a SRO and lives with myself and with his mother in alternate weeks, this works pretty well, he is a happy and well adjusted young man, due in no small part to my influence. He is a bright boy (will achieve his 9 GCSEs at grades 9-7), physically fit and strong and he is emotionally well balanced.
There has been an issue of bias by my son's school (a state secondary academy) since he began his studies there 4 years ago. I made a point of making sure the school had a copy of my son's SRO before he enrolled, and have kept the school updated with a copy of his residency schedule every 6 months since. There can be no ambiguity about this matter, and the school has claimed it would treat both parents equally from the start; the issue is that it has not done so.
There have been 8 instances (that I know of) where the academy has treated me as a second class parent: not including me in its parents' SMS messaging system, not inviting me to parents' evenings, not giving me details (log in) for the on-line homework system, not telling me my son had been selected for the triple science GCSE stream (this happened twice), not informing me of an issue of absence (which I fixed instantly, whereas his mother had allowed to drift on for months) and most recently not giving me a copy of my son's term report (he was only given one copy - addressed to his mother, which made his feel uneasy). In every case the failing has only been directed towards me - never towards my son's mother.
I have pointed out the errors every time they have occurred (and carefully recorded them). The school has somewhat grudgingly corrected the mistakes each time, but they keep happening. The issue seems to be the management's acceptance of a low level bias against fathers (actually I think this pervades throughout the state education system, but that does not make it acceptable).
When I pointed out the penultimate error to the academy's associate principal (joint headmaster) I told him that if there was another incident I would refer this to an equality tribunal. Well, there has been another issue, so I have made a formal complaint (copied to the chair of the Board of Governors - unfortunately a feckless lady, but at least the procedure is established so it cannot be ignored this time), and said that I will make this a legal issue if the school cannot redress the long running issue of bias now.
I suspect the academy will try to sidestep the formal complaint with nothing more than an apology for the latest occurrence, and we will end up in the same place in a few months time. I feel I have to do something more to fix the issue this time because even my son (whom I try to protect from this noise) has noticed it, and has been made to feel uncomfortable. I am minded therefore to follow up on my threat to elevate this to an equality issue at a legal tribunal, whatever the cost and the consequences.
I wonder, does anyone have any experience of initiating a legal action like this? What sort of solicitor should I approach and what sort of tribunal would deal with an issue like this?
I do have an appreciation of your situation as my Son incurred similar but it has now been resolved with the school. Our thoughts at the time and still are, like yours that there is quote, "... management's acceptance of a low level bias against fathers ..."
I may be right but I may be wrong, I think a solicitor who specializes in Civil Litigation which would include Dispute Resolution may be of help. I used the serves of one once and he was brilliant.
Thank you for that advice.
In this case the governing body is an academy trust rather than a LEA, so that won't work. I will follow the due process by allowing the academy to pursue its own complaints procedure (which will be a waste of time), and then refer it to a tribunal.
The associate principal has replied with a wishy washy email saying he will investigate the latest incident (only) and will bounce the person responsible. I suspect he has spoken with the trust's lawyer and discovered it will not have a leg to stand on in front of an equality tribunal, and so is trying to play down the bias accusation. I'm minded to see this through though, whatever the cost and consequences.
Hi. I m having the same problem with My 11 year old School.. I've asked to speak to the Head teacher on 5 occasions. Sent 6 emails, and numerous calls to his PA. I don't get it. I've emailed him now saying I'm making a formal complaint. The next day I was called by the school safeguarding teacher, a laughy, silly woman who downplayed my concerns that I'm not being informed of my daughters progress and that they monitor her as she's self harming because mummy won't let me see daddy.. She even asked me to get my solicitor to speak to my wife's solicitor? I explained that I have full parental responsibility, and the law clearly states I'm to be informed of her school progress and any welfare issues.. She sounded dumbfounded at this.. And on it goes..
They’re all useless . I told my school they’re treating me worse than the mum and under the children’s act I have the same rights . Also told them if they don’t give me the info I’m after I’d get it via a subject access request jnder GDPR and seek legal advice regarding them refusing to answer my questions . Funnily enough they did
Good morn chaps,
It is interesting (but sad) that you are both having problems - it is clear that this issue is quite widespread, but few people talk about it.
In my case there is a shared residency order in place telling the school that my son lives with me half the time, but it still tolerates low level bias. I'm coming to think all schools, and much of our society is just like this - but at the same time it is clearly illegal.
The associate principal (a somewhat feckless man) is trying to avoid me going down the legal enforcement route by saying I am wrong, and there is no bias, but in the face of overwhelming evidence I find his view rather patronising.