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To think that attendance recording at school is unfair

(139 Posts)
ICompletelyKnowAboutGuineaPigs Tue 26-Mar-13 11:24:35

So not actually attendance recording per se. I understand why schools monitor attendance and why this is important.

But at my DS's (aged 6) primary school they reward attendance (100%) at the end of every term with a special assembly, a certificate and extra 'golden time' in the afternoon. Now DS has not missed a full day of school or been late this term BUT he has had some appointments during school time. He is currently being assessed by the ASD team and they requested assessment by Speech and Language therapy and Occupational Therapy. The school know about this and the services have liaised with the school to keep them updated. No complaints so far, the school have been great.

The appointments are made by the services and so on 2-3 occasions he has had to miss an hour or two of school - but I always pick him up as late as possible and drop him off afterwards. He hasn't been awarded his attendance certificate because of these occasions. AIBU to think this is a bit unfair? I can't decide if it is discriminatory and whether I should take it further or whether the school are being perfectly reasonable because he hasn't been IN school 100% of the time (my friend's DD, however, has received her certificate despite leaving school early due to illness so I'm not sure what their exact criteria are).

I have spoken to the school SENCO/attendance monitor and he actually agrees with me but says he has to work within the guidelines. Should I challenge the guidelines or just it go?

landofsoapandglory Tue 26-Mar-13 11:33:34

I am having a bit of a similar problem with DS2's school because his attendance is too low for him to attend the prom as it stands. DS2 is a severe asthmatic and has, also, broken his shoulder playing rugby for the school so it is difficult to improve.

I contacted the school who told me that they were not aware DS2 is an asthmatic 'this academic year' despite me filling in lots of forms, and they have an inhaler there for him. They were also unaware of his accident despite it happening on the premises.

I believed their policy to be discriminatory, so contacted asthma.org for advice and they told me to contact the Equalities and Human Rights Comission. They told me that it is discriminatory, and any absence for a SN, disabilty, or long term medical condition should be logged seperately and discounted when the attendance awards are given out, as 'reasonable adjustement' needs to be made to put them on a level playing field with all the other DC.

I have written them a letter in light of this and am awaiting their response.

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 11:33:38

Ask the SENCo for a copy of the guidelines he is referring to. AFAIK there aren't any. Some schools make exceptions for medical appointments. It's up to the Head teacher or governors.

There have been quite a few threads on here about this policy and some schools are more sensible than others.

IMO these policies are more about being able to show Ofsted that they are doing something to encourage school attendance than doing anything which really makes a difference to attendance.

If they really want to encourage better attendance they should write to parents individually about their children's attendance rather than rewarding small children for achieving something over which they have no control.

MajaBiene Tue 26-Mar-13 11:38:29

It is discriminatory - it's discriminating against children with disabilities and chronic illnesses. I would challenge it.

MrsJamin Tue 26-Mar-13 11:45:04

I hate this too - it rewards children and their parents who think its ok to send in children with infectious diseases, and penalises those who need medical help - utterly ridiculous. I questioned the governors when they gave out these certificates in assembly and clapped those who got one. Poor DS1 who had plaster cast appointments did not get one sad

CockyFox Tue 26-Mar-13 12:01:31

At my DCs school it is for attendance and punctuality.
So you get 100% if you are in the classroom morning and afternoon when the register is taken, even if you go home sick after afternoon register, you don't get it if for example, you leave after morning registration and return after afternoon registration even if you are only out for an hour.

sparklekitty Tue 26-Mar-13 12:14:15

At our school medical appointments (ie dentist) and SN appointments etc have a separate attendance code which doesn't count in the 100% attendance iykwim. What a shame for your ds. I'd have a word with head or senco, a little one with issues that could impact his schooling (or hid desire to go to school) should definitely be included in rewards.

ICompletelyKnowAboutGuineaPigs Tue 26-Mar-13 12:19:37

Ok, so I am not being wholly unreasonable then. I think I will follow it up. I have a friend who is a governor and she might know/be able to get more info about it - otherwise I'll go and speak to the Headteacher.

FWIW I completely agree with you Goldmandra, I think children being recognised/penalised for something about which they have little/no control (especially the younger age groups) is ridiculous - it is, after all MY responsibility as a parent to get him to school on time/daily - maybe I should ask if I can have a certificate and extra 'golden time'! wink)

Maggie111 Tue 26-Mar-13 12:22:38

You're not allowed to do it in the working world, seems unfair to penalise a child for something that is an ongoing medical condition.

WorraLiberty England Tue 26-Mar-13 12:25:23

Why aren't the appointments going down as medical marks? confused

It's not only better for your child's record...but also it's much better for the school as it doesn't affect its overall attendance figure.

Blu Tue 26-Mar-13 12:31:52

Worra - i think they are going down as medical marks - the issue is that medical marks are treated as absences in the doling out of these in-school attendance awards.

DS wrote to his school and explained why he thought that absences for unavoidable appointments as a result of lifelong disability or condition was discriminatory and against the DDA. His school adjusted accordingly.

ppeatfruit Tue 26-Mar-13 12:32:03

It is nonsensical.Ofsted and some of the schools need to lighten up. MY ex DIL "doesn't believe in watches" and thinks time is 'infinite'" So poor little GD is always late and gets upset when the certificates for good attendance are handed out sad.

Agree with the OP who said that the schools reward people who send the LOs when ill. How can that be right?

WorraLiberty England Tue 26-Mar-13 12:34:52

Oh now I get it Blu, thanks.

In that case OP you really should have a word with the school.

It's not on to tread your child like this.

He's either 'absent' or he's not...and if the school are recording him as not, then he should be treated like all the other kids who aren't.

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 12:34:54

I can see your point but you are missing the point of these attendance certificates.

They are NOT aimed at children who have missed school due to illness be it short or long term, or children who have medical appointments or other good reasons for missing school. But for those who take dc out of school for holidays, outings, non- essential reasons, parents who don't value good attendance etc, it might just make them think twice.

Yes it's unfair to those who have genuine reasons and sometimes dc will be disappointed but personally I wouldn't bother to take it further. It's such a small thing in the scheme of things. Explain to your ds about the reasoning behind the certificates and tell him there are a million other chance to be rewarded for something. Most schools these days have achievement certificates, star of the week etc.

Nanny0gg England Tue 26-Mar-13 12:40:44

I hate this.
Certainly at primary level (excluding health reasons), the child is only late because of the parent.
Why should they be penalised for something outside their control?

Pandemoniaa Tue 26-Mar-13 12:44:19

I can see your point but you are missing the point of these attendance certificates.

Actually, I think it is the other way round. Schools are missing the point of attendance certificates and, in some cases, clearly discriminating against children who, for no fault of their own, have to miss school because of medical conditions or associated medical appointments.

It is not these children that should be penalised and while the world is not a fair place, it would help if attendance policies didn't start from a principle of unfairness.

ICompletelyKnowAboutGuineaPigs Tue 26-Mar-13 12:49:59

I see your point Dancergirl and for me it's not so much about the certificate but the principle of the matter. As Maggie mentioned, workplaces would not be allowed to do it so I don't see why a school should be.

I can explain it to DS and he may be fine with it (though he does have some issues regulating his emotions and dwelling on things - hence his mental health referral) but the point, for me at least, is that he shouldn't have to be fine with it.

I'm not sure I agree with attendance rewarding in the first place - but if a school is going to do it I think it should do so fairly. I teach at a University and we have a system in which we record absences as authorised, unauthorised or explained. At the end of an academic year authorised absences are removed from a student's record so as not to put them at a disadvantage in relation to their peers. I don't see why the school can't have a similar system.

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 12:50:17

What about awards for sports? Would they also be unfair and discriminatory against dc who can't take part for medical reasons?

landofsoapandglory Tue 26-Mar-13 12:53:56

Dancergirl, it is not unfair, it is unlawful.

The Equalities and Human Rights Comission told me if DS2 is forced to miss his Prom, we have a case to seek compensation through the courts.

Schools should have 2 sets of attendance records for all children with long term illnesses and disabilities. I bet the majority don't!

MrsJamin Tue 26-Mar-13 12:54:15

Dancergirl - you are wrong, my DS didn't get an attendance certificate and he only missed school due to fevers and hospital appointments. We haven't been late once and have never taken him out for any other reason.

cornflakegirl Tue 26-Mar-13 12:54:19

Nanny0gg - the school is probably hoping that pester power will work on the parents to get the children in on time. It's a carrot and stick thing - certificates and little rewards on one side, stern letters and fines on the other.

landofsoapandglory Tue 26-Mar-13 12:59:50

Dancergirl wrt the sport they have to make reasonable adjustments so DC with medical conditions/ disabilities can take part. So that might mean they don't run as far, someone pushes their wheelchair, carries things for them etc.

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 13:00:08

If it is such an insignificant even as to not upset children who miss out on certificates because they are ill or have a disability it's not going to be an effective deterrent to those parents who keep children of for holidays and other non-essential reasons.

If it is a sanction which is enough to make parents think twice about keeping their children off when they don't need to, it is surely enough of sanction to cause upset to those who repeatedly fail to achieve attendance targets through no fault of their own.

You can't have it both ways. Either it is an effective strategy which improves attendance figures which makes it worth upsetting those who can't help it or it isn't an effective strategy because no child is that bothered, in which case it should be abandoned.

I can't see how any strategy which rewards or disappoints 6 year old for decisions their parents have made can possibly have the desired effect unless the school can guarantee that the parents concerned are there in the assembly to see their child missing out on a certificate. Even then I doubt it would make much difference to those who are doing it in order to be able to afford a nicer holiday.

It's a very blunt instrument which shouldn't be used on primary children and should only be used higher up the key stages if someone can actually show it to be effective. Has anyone done that yet?

Cornflake girl has it - schools record of attendance has really become quite an issue lately and it is a very kak handed way of trying to boost attendance. Our school has the policy of rewarding the class with a prize and bear for the best attendance record, which I suppose is fairer than singling children out.

Pandemoniaa Tue 26-Mar-13 13:01:53

Would they also be unfair and discriminatory against dc who can't take part for medical reasons?

Actually, if schools refused to make reasonable adjustments to allow all their pupils to participate in sport then yes, awards would be discriminatory by dint of who they excluded.

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