To think that a school cannot impose restrictions on what parents can do during the school day?

(317 Posts)
crosstraineraddict Thu 04-Oct-12 14:07:01

A friend of mine was telling me about something that has happened at the school where her DCs go. Several times in the past few months, parents have gone out for the day to places over an hour away, to meet friends or go shopping or whatever, and their child has been ill at school, so they've been called and been over an hour getting to the school to pick up their child.

The parents have all apparently had a letter now stating that a parent must be within half an hour of the school at all times during the school day, and that they recommend that at least one parent works locally!

Am I alone in thinking this is bonkers and unfair, not to mention dictatorial!

lljkk Thu 04-Oct-12 14:08:06

yanbu, but I think you'll hear some interesting arguments otherwise.

ILiveInAPineapple Thu 04-Oct-12 14:08:11

We both work over an hour from my ds' school.

They can get stuffed unless they want to pay my mortgage!

orangefan Thu 04-Oct-12 14:08:36

It's ridiculous, how on earth are they planning to police it? Stupid and completely unreasonable.

crosstraineraddict Thu 04-Oct-12 14:09:41

The headteacher is apparently known for being dictatorial about things, and thinking they are in charge of the parents too.

redwhiteandblueeyedsusan Thu 04-Oct-12 14:10:48

ssmile and nod, smile and nod...

Ridiculous! Completely ridiculous!

Perhaps badly phrased by the school - I would like to believe that the school would be happy if you had another responsible person nearby in case of emergency ...

Issy Thu 04-Oct-12 14:11:06

Bizarre. For the millions of people who work in central London but live in the home counties, a half hour commute is an impossible dream.

ethelb Thu 04-Oct-12 14:11:33

It's ungovernable. Like everyone is going to stop working because of this dictat.

What are they going to do if they are not under half an house away.

redskyatnight Thu 04-Oct-12 14:12:07

I agree that school cant' dictate. But do think if both parents are going to be some distance away it would be a good idea to have a backup adult available.

ethelb Thu 04-Oct-12 14:12:12


Moomoomie Thu 04-Oct-12 14:12:28

I think what the school is trying to say is that they would like an emergency contact person who can get to the school within half an hour, not necessarily a parent.
I understand that parents need to work and many not locally but I think in those cases it is worth having someone local you trust to pick the child up if necessary.

OwlBabies Thu 04-Oct-12 14:12:56

That's hilarious - YANBU. God, schools need to get it into their heads that parents aren't constantly orbiting the school, waiting for a call. I'd be tempted to compose a very sarcastic letter in response.

DowagersHump Thu 04-Oct-12 14:13:16

How ridiculous!

I got enormous amounts of grief from the school secretary when my DS was ill once - I was nearly 2 hours away and there was no way I could get back more quickly. When I turned up, his teacher was completely chilled about it and she said he'd just gone to sleep in the reading corner.

I would be tempted to complain if they dared to send me a letter like that.

charlottehere Thu 04-Oct-12 14:13:22

I don't see how they can enforce this. hmm

ouryve Thu 04-Oct-12 14:13:29

YANBU. DH works half an hour away (in good traffic), which means I wouldn't even be able to go shopping in my nearest town because it could take me over an hour to get home.

Besides, not all parents are in jobs where they can just drop everything without any notice. Teachers included.

DowagersHump Thu 04-Oct-12 14:13:58

Moomoomie - I do have emergency contacts but sod's law they were both unavailable that day!

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Thu 04-Oct-12 14:14:27

YANBU. A lot of parents work, ffs.

JeezyOrangePips Thu 04-Oct-12 14:14:32

Ludicrous. My kids primary required parents contact details, plus a 'responsible person' who lived close by that they could contact if the parents were unreachable. Much more reasonable ( but still not workable for all - eg people new to the area)

TroublesomeEx Thu 04-Oct-12 14:15:07

That's ridiculous and unenforceable.

I wonder what the governing body would have to say about it..?

Scholes34 Thu 04-Oct-12 14:15:32

Not well worded by the school, but I would think for your own peace of mind you'd like an emergency contact a little closer to the school then you are.

Having said that, I don't have any emergency contacts, as constantly requested by the school, but I'm only 10 minutes away on a bike.

Netguru Thu 04-Oct-12 14:15:53

Having someone nearby is helpful.

We both work away my commute is 2.5 hours away, my husband anywhere from one hour upwards. Earlier this year, I was in Malta when my husband in India!

ivykaty44 Thu 04-Oct-12 14:17:19

So is this half an hour away by foot? Where we live every time there is an accident on the motorway town comes to a stand still and travelling 2 miles takes two hours.

Work is over half an hour away for many of my work mates - so school will do what - tell them to quit their jobs and live on what?

This is not the 1970's where one parent is at home and the other parent works

kate2boysandabump Thu 04-Oct-12 14:17:19

YANBU, that's bonkers!!

I once got into trouble with the school secretary because I'd come out to pick up ds2 from pre-school and had forgotten to pick up my mobile. To compound my sins I'd ridden my bike to collect him, so had cycle home before I could collect ds1. She was not best pleased, despite the fact it took no more than an hour for me to collect him. He was fine by the time I got there grin

Just ignore it. There is nothing they can do to enforce it.

The devil in me would forward a copy to lea or governors to see their view point on it, I help care for a relative a few times a week and he lives a good hour and half from the school. Dh is a boiler engineer and travels all round the country, today he is in Wales, it would take him about 4 hours to back in an emergency, should he quit?
My flat is a good 30 mins walk away and I know people who live further away, should they move closer in case?

OwlBabies Thu 04-Oct-12 14:18:02

I struggle a bit with the 'emergency contact' thing. Who do other people use? We don't have family living anywhere near. And friends all work too. So the DDs' schools have as their emergency contacts people who aren't necessarily any closer to the school than DH and me.

Firawla Thu 04-Oct-12 14:18:11

It's ridiculous even if you do live nearby or have 'emergency contact' nearby - everyone goes out sometimes! and half hour is not that far away. You can't stay at home every single day just on the off chance school will call, which is a rare situation anyway (unless you know dc is ill and they may be likely to call, which is a bit different)

maillotjaune Thu 04-Oct-12 14:18:56

Madness, of course yANBU. Most of the people I know who live here and work in the centre of London would not be able to get there in half an hour.

Lueji Thu 04-Oct-12 14:19:57

That would be fine if school places allocation took into account not home address but work address...

wonkylegs Thu 04-Oct-12 14:23:06

Completely unenforceable and a terrible tone to take with parents as it'll obviously get their backs up. My job is approx. 20mins away in good traffic and DHs is an hour. But although I would do my very best to drop everything as fast as I can and get to my child in an emergency life isn't like that. DH is a hospital dr, he couldn't leave til somebody can cover him or if he's in surgery until he's finished. I'm often on site or at meetings not in my office or in hospital having treatment for my long standing condition (i can't get up an walk out midway) We have other emergency contacts and we'd all do our best to be there as soon as we can BUT it is up to us to figure out how to do that not the school!

DontmindifIdo Thu 04-Oct-12 14:23:44

I can't see any of our local schools getting away with that - we live in a town that's a commute to London, pretty much everyone's daddy wears a suit and gets the train to the city, (I believe pre-2008 the figure for our town was 70% of breadwinners working in banking) and I can't remember meeting a working mother who doesn't also work in London. They could insist all they like, but I would imagine most parents couldn't do that.

Lueji Thu 04-Oct-12 14:24:53

Besides, in a true emergency, they would call 999.

A child with a fever can easily be given some calpol and stay in a comfy place somewhere.
Or if sick, then be looked after the school nurse.

WelshMaenad Thu 04-Oct-12 14:27:06

But obviously all mummies just have little local jobs during school hours, don't they, and they work for hairspray money, not to actually support the household or anything. [/sarcasm]

YANBU. How utterly stupid. Mind you, I had the secretary get snotty with me once because she called me to collect DD and I was sleeping (with baby DS) and it took her five calls to my mobile to rouse me!

TeaOneSugar Thu 04-Oct-12 14:27:26

Similar thing with DDs school and car parking, we may mostly live within walking distance of school, but they don't understand that parents might be travelling onto work and picking up on the way home from work.

I live and work within walking distance of school, but travel all over the county and beyond during the working day.

It amazes me that teachers, some of which presumably have children, seem to have no concept of parents having jobs, short notice events is another good example.

GoSakuramachi Thu 04-Oct-12 14:27:44

It doesn't really matter when someone gives an instruction that they have no authority to give, no facility to police, and no available punishment for failure to adhere.

Just file it in the bin and forget about it.

margerykemp Thu 04-Oct-12 14:30:30

Utterly ridiculous!

Another misogynistic way of controlling women.

TroublesomeEx Thu 04-Oct-12 14:30:45


TEACHERS are often parents too.

TEACHERS don't make the decisions in school.

Sometimes the TEACHERS disagree with them too. They just have to toe the line.

TroublesomeEx Thu 04-Oct-12 14:31:57

Sorry Tea. blush

It's just frustrating and it would be great if individual teachers had as much power and control over what goes on in schools as people on MN seem to think they have!

MadameCupcake Thu 04-Oct-12 14:35:45

How ridiculous! I work an hour away as we had a forced move of offices from literally a minute round the corner from school. I would love not to have to travel all that way! If I had been working today then the motorway was closed for several hours both ways due to incidents so I would have been 2 hours away at least!

My husband is not that close either - half hour in good traffic!

However - if I knew I had no friends or family that in an emergency could get there quicker I am not sure I would feel that comfortable with us both being so far away - I can see where the school are coming from but it is really not their business to discuss it with parents in that way!

JustSpiro Thu 04-Oct-12 14:35:46

I work 5 minutes walk from my DD's school and DH is less than 10 minutes away by car.

If I received that letter I would go shock hmm angry - chuck it in the bin and not waste any more thinking about it tbh. What a load of cobblers.

eurochick Thu 04-Oct-12 14:39:24

It's idiotic. Ignore.

OwlBabies Thu 04-Oct-12 14:40:53

Margerykemp you are so right.

Narked Thu 04-Oct-12 14:47:18

grin Fruitloop head

Ephiny Thu 04-Oct-12 14:50:38

I can see it's ideal to have an 'emergency contact' local to the school, but not everyone will have someone they can ask, and to seriously suggest parents 'consider working locally' - are there even enough local jobs for the parents of all the children at the school?

Just ignore the letter.

Badvoc Thu 04-Oct-12 14:52:59

I think it's sensible to have an local emergency contact if you work that far away tbh.
HT sounds slightly unhinged to me....

Spuddybean Thu 04-Oct-12 14:59:21

I worry about things like this because DP (when in the country) commutes 2 hours to London (that's with rush hour trains every half hour, mid afternoon there is one every 2 hours so if just missed a train it could take 4 hours). I used to work in London also. Neither of us know anyone in our area (the few we have made acquaintance with all work and have children) which could be an emergency contact. So if i went back to work we would both be between 2.5 and 4 hours away.

Even when we lived in London our journey was 1hr 10mins at best.

PropertyNightmare Thu 04-Oct-12 14:59:37

Yanbu. That is fucking loopy.

littleducks Thu 04-Oct-12 14:59:48

I'm a bit of everything, sometimes working and sometimes at home. I'm very careful to check my phone etc. when working as I am 45-60mins away (London so need tube lines working).

However in my days off I go to asda often for more than an hour and for that period of time have no mobile phone reception [shrugs]

CMOTDibbler Thu 04-Oct-12 15:05:49

I'd be having strong words with the head. DH and I are both often out and about for work during the school day, and when I'm away (right now in Finland) Dh's office base is 45 min from school. And we have no emergency contacts at all.

Arrg - as a school Governer it really annoys me that so many schools put so little thought into how they communicate with their parents. The way you word something makes so much difference to how a message is received. Such a lack of imagination! But really how do they expect to enforce this - if they make a suggestion that parents think about having locally based emergency contacts - then fine - a good idea - some people would still get huffy but at least it is a sensible suggestion rather than an unreasonable demand. As a sahm I am contact for a couple of friends and vice versa. Occasionally I get on the train to somewhere and may take an hour to get back!shock

PostBellumBugsy Thu 04-Oct-12 15:09:51

That is bonkers - but not surprising. We had something similar at my DCs primary school. One parent had a strip torn off her for being in a meeting & not checking her phone - so it took her a whole hour and a half to get to the school to pick up her DD, whose "emergency" was barfing.

You can't help but wonder how schools managed in the olden days when people weren't contactable every minute of the day.

My mum didn't work, but she didn't stay at home either. When we were at school she was out, taking language classes & volunteering at various things. If the school had called her, the phone would have rung & rung because there were no answer phones in those days either. They wouldn't have dreamt of calling my dad, because he was at work (in the days when that meant you were left well alone at work!).

catsmother Thu 04-Oct-12 15:10:52

Dear School,

Thank you very much for recommending that at least one of us works locally. We feel so silly as neither of us had thought of doing that until now but would love the opportunity to cut back on a total daily commute of 3 hours and indeed reduce the £500 a month it currently costs to get to work.

Having taken your advice on board we are, however, rather disappointed to discover that there are no local jobs currently available though we think we remember seeing some advertised in the local paper around 3 years ago. Clearly we're overlooking something, so would be very grateful if you could advise us where to find the local, well paid jobs you're referring to.

We look forward to hearing from you very shortly and have dusted off our interview suits in anticipation of our impending transfers. We are of course confident that we will be the only interviewees.



SusanneLinder Thu 04-Oct-12 15:17:33

haha Catsmouth grin

I would be tempted to write something similar.

needsomesunshine Thu 04-Oct-12 15:18:21

We are asked for 4 contacts. It would be sensible for them to let you put down someone closer.

I could be visiting a fried who lives next door to our school, but wouldn't be able to be contacted as mobile reception is rubbish round that area grin. Is the school going to ensure that mobile signals are improved within their 30 minute radius?

NorbertDentressangle Thu 04-Oct-12 15:30:28


What next...."Parents must carry their mobile phone with them at all times and must never have it on silent just in case school need to contact them" ?!

It makes you wonder how on earth they coped back in the dark ages (when I were a lass wink) - a lot of families didn't have home phones, a lot of families didn't have a family car let alone 2 cars!

What happened then if a child was ill and there was no home phone or Mum had gone out somewhere (no mobiles then obviously) or Dad had taken the family car to work and Mum couldn't get to school as its in the next village etc?

Netguru Thu 04-Oct-12 15:31:41

Of course there is no way of enforcing it. I'm with those who think the head teacher needs a crash course in how to communicate with people.

I have a specialist job which can genuinely only occur in London. For some people there is no local option. Believe me I'd take one if there was.

ivykaty44 Thu 04-Oct-12 15:34:50

It is sad that this sort of letter will antagonise many parents when really the school should be building strong ties with the parents to support the school.

It makes the school head look and seem out of touch with the world and how it operates.

I am sure many of the teachers are not local to the school and may well have their own children at different schools more than half and hour away.

VodkaJelly Thu 04-Oct-12 15:37:12

I only live about 20 minutes walk away from school but as I am at work I cant just drop everything. I had the school secretary nearly shouting at me with disbelief as I refused to leave work and pick up my sons PE kit as he had forgot to take it. She sounded incredulous "What? you are not going to bring his PE kit in?" "No, I am at work" she repeated it about 3 times!

ChaoticismyLife Thu 04-Oct-12 15:40:56

grin catsmother

Even if you do have an emergency contact there's no guarantee that they will be within half an hour of the school when needed. They might have a doctors/dentists appointment that day or be visiting a friend who lives further away, or are they meant to give up their lives and sit at home all day on the off chance they may be needed hmm

ovenchips Thu 04-Oct-12 15:43:57

Does anyone know what happened before mobiles etc? When if a parent was out of the house and not at work they were uncontactable.

That was the scenario when I was at school (I'm in my forties) but I really can't remember what happened if a child was ill or had an accident and they couldn't get hold of the parents. Which leads me to believe it wasn't a huge issue.

But can anyone actually remember?

I'm only about 20 mins away if at work or if working at home.

However, on the occasions the school have called me, its taken me about an hour to get round there and pick up said child.

I can't just drop what I'm doing and rush off, I have to finish up, talk to colleagues, get organised etc. If I'm at home I need to do that and get dressed blush if its a real emergency then I would assume they called 999 and then I would be there in a heartbeat but 'x has a headache' means x can wait an hour.

Ridiculous people.

sarahtigh Thu 04-Oct-12 15:49:13

apparently the DHSS consider that anyone with school age children should be in work not on benefits and it is unreasoanble to turn a job down unless communte is over 90 minutes

even iif one parent is home based surely they go out sometimes maybe shopping taking another child to hospital 1 hour away etc, we live rurally and some children commute over an hour on school bus there is no expectation that a parent could be at school in 10 minutes or in most cases an hour, unless parents have car at home they would have to go on the 2 hourly bus service

I can not think of any circumstance where a school really truly need you there in 10 minutes, surely if that serious you dial 999 first and then try and find parents later, it might be more convienent if you can pick up quickly but essential I have my doubts. I would never leave work to deliver PE kit lunch box etc,

I can just imagine my patient "oh sorry mrs smith you have taken day off work and waited 5 weeks to get your root canal done but I have to cancel as my daughter forgot PE kit and I have to go home and fetch it for her" I can see the complaint to the local health board already shock

PostBellumBugsy Thu 04-Oct-12 15:53:37

ovenchips, I remember at primary school when I was in Junior 4, which is year 6 now, having to sit with younger kids who were barfing, had nose bleeds, felt poorly or other non-emergency medical problems until their parents came, which sometimes wasn't until going home time. A teacher would pop out every now & then to make sure everything was still ok.

Can you imagine the uproar if a school did that now!

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 04-Oct-12 15:54:01

its stupid, they should be able to judge if a child needs immediate attention (in which case they should seek it while the parents are on their way) or if they can wait till the parents collect! an hour is not long and it is possible to isolate them from other children while they wait if they are vomiting for example

DH works geographically far away so always at least an hour for him, I work very geographically close but if DS chooses to get sick on a busy time the traffic can take an hour (15 mins without traffic)

what are we supposed to do? not work? force our relatives to move miles/countries to next door to the school so there is always someone sitting home waiting for a call from the school???

ovenchips Thu 04-Oct-12 16:03:17

PostBellumBugsy Thanks v much for answering. It was quite different then! I sort of thought the children might just have to hang around until the end of the school day regardless.

And I forgot to say to OP that it's a seriously silly suggestion of the head's. I would take letter, file it in the bin and pay no heed whatsoever.

nannynick Thu 04-Oct-12 16:09:15

YANBU. Maybe the school should invest in a medical wing with a full-time nurse and a doctor on call if they find it too difficult to deal with children being mildly ill. In a serious situation I would hope they take the child to A&E not rely on parents/a responsible person coming to pickup the child.

Back when I was little, we had a school nurse. When you were little you may have had that at school as well. These days, do they have nurses, or is a receptionist doubling up as a nurse but with only basic first aid training?

I agree with the others that whilst it may be ideal for the school, in this day and age it's not practical for many parents. We don't get a choice where we work, we don't get that much choice in schools (postcode lottery in some places), and whilst travelling times at some times of the day may be under 30 minutes traffic can affect that travel time a lot.

Startailoforangeandgold Thu 04-Oct-12 16:11:33

Smile and nod.
DH is an hour away, I often disappear 50 minutes - an hour away.

Irrelevant anyway because parents can't necessarily race out of a meeting or the lesson they are teaching just because little Jennie's been sick.

Mobiles have a lot to answer for!

I don't remember anyone going home from school when I was young. Many of us had SAHMs, but not all of them had phones or cars. No buses. Senior school was 12 miles from my house 15 from several friends.

As for ringing Dad's at work, unless the DC had been rushed badly injured to hospital they would have just laughed.

drjohnsonscat Thu 04-Oct-12 16:13:19

That's ridiculous. What on earth did schools do before mobile phones anyway? Half of parents they wouldn't have been able to contact all day anyway so they wouldn't have been able to suggest such a ludicrous thing.

When I was at school I badly damaged my hand (aged about 8) and was taken to hospital in the morning. My mum was at a conference away from the office and this was a long time pre-mobiles so no one could get hold of her. She eventually got home at 6pm after all the after school clubs etc to find me bandaged up the elbow. The school had had to deal with all my hospital treatment. It was fine.

nannynick Thu 04-Oct-12 16:13:25

ovenchips in the 1980's I had an accident at school. My parents both worked in central London. School was in South East London. So not that far in mileage but travel time by walk to station, train, walk to home, then car to school, was possibly about an hour, maybe more.
I recall being taken to hospital by a teacher. I don't remember mum arriving but I suspect that the teacher stayed until my mum arrived at the hospital.

Whatdoiknowanyway Thu 04-Oct-12 16:14:38

I remember my youngest having a high temperature at school. The school hadn't updated her records with my new mobile number (although they had updated her sister's records hmm) and so couldn't get in touch with me. They didn't even try to get in touch with her dad as she said (this is a 7 year old running a high temperature) that she thought her dad was in Birmingham that day. Never entered their heads that 1) he might not be and 2) he could pass a message on to me. I was really cross at school pick up time to find she had been left to hang around the sick room feeling grim when I could have been into collect her.

Mobile phones are the key though. In an emergency, the parent can be contacted to ask what they want to do, they can also give instructions and/or get in touch with a local contact if possible to take the child home.

Back in the day.. my dad worked many miles away and my mum was in charge of her own class at a school across town. No one could have picked me up. It's not a new issue.

Startailoforangeandgold Thu 04-Oct-12 16:17:03

Even with mobiles it's only very recently that many of my friends farms have any coverage at all.

Even here in the leafy midlands I know houses where I have to give DH the landline no.

Viperidae Thu 04-Oct-12 16:17:34

When my DCs were younger we didn't all have mobiles like now so schools were geared up more with regards to holding more contact numbers (instead of just a mobile number, they would have home, work, family, etc) and they coped when that didn't work (e.g. their school had a sickbay and a staff member to take charge of it when needed)

I agree that this is a PR cockup, the intent behind it of "Please try to let us have a local contact in case of illness" has been undermined by the dictatorial tone.

Bonkers, absolutely bonkers....

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 04-Oct-12 16:20:13


HazleNutt Thu 04-Oct-12 16:20:54

Well working locally might not help anyway, not all people are able to answer their mobiles at all times and/or drop everything and rush to the school. Or would those be the next requirements?

When I was younger then in case of emergency, the school would take you to the hospital. If you were just feeling sick and lived too far from school to walk home, you simply had to sit and wait for the schoolbus. We all survived.

Ridiculous demand.

Woozley Thu 04-Oct-12 16:21:08

When DH and I were both working FT we had the childminder 10 minutes away and granny 5 minutes away as a backup, but I know not everyone will have someone available locally, especially if kids go to after school club.

But surely school's responsibility for kids lasts for as long as they are looking after them. If there is a real emergency a member of staff will take the child to hospital - that's why we sign forms for that.

I don't know why schools expect parents to be living in the 1970s.

No, actually I do. Because they are expected to do more, for less money. Therefore, some of the "more" falls to parents, where previously kids would have been looked after by the nurse and in many other examples.

weegiemum Thu 04-Oct-12 16:24:19

I wouldn't mind it so much if they didn't send them home at the drop of a flippin' hat! Several times have brough "sick" child home to find them full of beans. Then they had the gall to write and say they were worried about her attendance!

expatinscotland Thu 04-Oct-12 16:28:29

'I understand that parents need to work and many not locally but I think in those cases it is worth having someone local you trust to pick the child up if necessary.'

What if you don't know anyone who is? In our area, most people work over an hour away each way.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Thu 04-Oct-12 16:28:56

is this a private school - I can't believe a state school would be allowed to issue such a statement. All very well saying a parent should work locally, this assumes there are the right type of jobs for all parents - or should the parents be taking any onld minimum wage job to fulfil the criteria.

Utter Madness

Sidge Thu 04-Oct-12 16:41:24

Oh good grief that's ridiculous.

I only work 10 minutes away from my DDs primary, but 20-45 mins (traffic dependent) from DD1s senior school.

BUT I work in a job where I can't just drop everything and walk out should I need to; obviously I will make arrangements as quickly as possible but I can't just walk out.

Also it can be difficult for some of us to provide many alternative emergency contacts. I have no family in the area and all of my friends work, many of them much further away from the school than me!

NUFC69 Thu 04-Oct-12 16:59:26

I'm older than most of you, I guess, and started school just before the Queen's coronation. We didn't have a phone until I was 22 and no car until I was 17. If you were ill at school, you were ill - that was that. You just stayed in the secretary's office and then went home as usual, ie at primary school you might have been picked up, but junior and high school children made their own way home. In my case, at high school it was a bus journey home. I sometimes wonder what would happen now if parents said that they didn't actually have a mobile phone and couldn't be contacted!

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 04-Oct-12 17:23:53

"'I understand that parents need to work and many not locally but I think in those cases it is worth having someone local you trust to pick the child up if necessary.'

What if you don't know anyone who is? In our area, most people work over an hour away each way"

exactly! like who? our babysitters are nursery nurses or friends who work by day so not them, our friends all work equal distances.. we can't afford to pay a nanny or CM to be "on call" every day just incase...

who are you suggesting we russle up????

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Thu 04-Oct-12 17:30:39

The HT is being unrealistic, but I can see where she's coming from.

So many parents send their children into school when they are unwell, and if you can't get back within a reasonable time, then you need to make some arrangements so that someone can collect your child. It's not very nice for children to be sat feeling or being sick outside the school office for hours, and school receptionists and teachers are not there to provide childcare.

whatinthewhatnow Thu 04-Oct-12 17:35:21

then, outraged, the issue is sending kids to school sick in the first place, not how far away they are.

Oh FFS the reason parents send DC into school when DC are a bit off colour is because they can't take any more time off work/can't afford to lose a day's pay/no one else is available to look after the child, so you just have to dose them up with Calpol and cross your fingers they last the day out.

exoticfruits Thu 04-Oct-12 17:37:13

It is unrealistic. DH commuted a long distance, I was often more than an hour away. All we had to do was name a third person as emergency contact.

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 04-Oct-12 17:37:28

Outraged are you really suggesting that anyone LIKES the fact that their child is stuck in school waiting for an hour while poorly??

noone wants that! but there's really nothing that can be done about it if you don't have an abundance of fit and able retired/unemployed relatives down the road!

I live a ten minute drive away, but don't drive. I also work nights, so by the time they have woken me, I have at least washed and dressed and waited for the next bus, then walked up to the school from there, then I can take an hour. It has never once been necessary either. Well not at the first school. The college where my DD has been since 13 it was, but they sent someone to get me while the ambulance waited for me to arrive.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 04-Oct-12 17:40:29

I do agree with everything said here. he letters is unreasonable.

out of interest, what would you do if there was an emergency at school and you had no contact who was close at hand to take care of your DC??

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 04-Oct-12 17:47:09

and re sending them.. in the absense of actual vomit or a temperature it's really hard to tell first thing if someone's actually poorly, or if they just don't wanna get out of bed and will be fine once they get going! When both parents are self employed you cannot take many "just incase" days off, anyway 90% of the time its fine and the attendance officer wouldn't be your friend if you kept them off every time they were a bit groggy first thing!

suburbophobe Thu 04-Oct-12 17:52:00

I've never read such a ridiculous school rule (in the OP) before....

In my experience of DCs schools, you always have to give one or two contact people/nrs. in case of emergency.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Thu 04-Oct-12 17:56:26

Whatin, yes, parents sending unwell children into school is the much bigger issue, but it's one that has probably contributed to the head feeling the need to send out such a ridiculous letter. It's something a lot of parents do, and it's wrong. Parents who do that are in no position to complain when head teachers need to remind parents that they have to be available (or find someone else) to collect their sick children.

prettybird Thu 04-Oct-12 17:57:17

Our schools (both primary and secondary) ask for an alternative emergency contact.

If you provide a mobile number and if, by unfortunate circumstance, both you and the emergency contact are unavailable when an emergency arises, then it's up to you (not the school) to sort out an alternative solution on that occasion.

But equally, it is not up to the school to dictate what you do during the day.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 04-Oct-12 17:58:34

The HT is being an idiot. S/he should have asked for each child to have an alternative contact, of course. I was the alternative for one of DDs classmates - after the mother realised that sometimes her DH was abroad and she was several hours away, they both had jobs that entailed travel, and they had no family close by.

NopofacehaveI Thu 04-Oct-12 18:00:45

We were on about this yesterday. My phone was broke and I needed to go out for half an hour, they did have my mums number but she doesn't hear it half of time.

My mum said when I started school they had no phone and if you were Ill you lay in heads office with cushions.

I was sat in a MRI machine once (had told school and they had clinic number once when school rang and they left seven messages on my mobile within a few minutes because dd had a headache.

Prarieflower Thu 04-Oct-12 18:16:00

At our school you have to send them unless there has been d&v.Ds had been sick at the weekend(bug going round) and dd had a tummy ache.I ran to enquire and they said to still send her.

My kids never look ill and always battle on without moaning until the last minute.

You can't win.Send em in ill and you're heartless,keep them off incase and you're letting them have too many days off school.confused

TheBuskersDog Thu 04-Oct-12 18:22:08

"A child with a fever can easily be given some calpol and stay in a comfy place somewhere.
Or if sick, then be looked after the school nurse."

Schools cannot just give calpol to children. State primary schools do not have a nurse hanging around in case a child is ill, the point is there is no one there to look after sick children.

Regarding parents sending in children who are ill, it is perfectly reasonable to send in a child who says they are feeling a bit off colour but being prepared to collect if they feel worse later in the day - 9 times out of 10 they are fine. What many parents do is send in a child who has vomited, all schools have policies regarding diarrhoea and/or vomiting -usually that the pupil (or staff member) should stay away from school for 24/48 hours (depending on school) after the last episode.

HazleNutt Thu 04-Oct-12 18:23:24

Honestly if you have to hover in 30 min radius from school at all times, might as well home school the DC.

catsmother Thu 04-Oct-12 18:26:18

As many have already said, not everyone has a whole host of willing and able "alternative" contacts to give out to the school. And of course even if you do those people also have things to do, commitments etc. If, while your child is at school during normal school hours, they become ill, then all the school can expect parents to do is their reasonable best to get to the school, or ask another responsible adult to do so, as soon as possible ..... and for some people that might take quite some time for all sorts of genuine and unavoidable reasons. In the meantime, they call emergency services if it's an emergency, or place said child in quiet area if it's not so serious.

Conversely, a few years ago, my 11 year old son had an accident at scout camp - an accident for which an ambulance was called, where he was placed on a stretcher complete with head immobiliser thingy, and then flown by air ambulance to hospital - because it was suspected he may have injured his back. I knew nothing of this until 4 days later when they got home .... as the scout leaders took the pragmatic approach that rather than worry me unduly they would wait to see what the doctors at hospital said. Thankfully he was fine - so no-one called me at all. I must admit I was a bit taken aback when this all came to light but I think it was more the initial shock of my "baby" in an air ambulance (which he thoroughly enjoyed). When I calmed down I guess it was sensible not to worry me nor have me drive 3.5 hours to scout camp if I didn't need to. Yet it seems most schools these days want to get shot of slightly poorly kids as soon as possible ..... and that includes kids swinging the lead as I suspect my own have done on a few occasions. I suppose they have to be safe not sorry but at the same time they certainly shouldn't be berating parents who find it impossible to get there within 15 minutes.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 04-Oct-12 18:28:56

School would love me.

DH works 90 minutes away and I work locally but am unavailable and uncontactable for most of the day. I don't take my mobile into the operating theatre with me and have never given the school a landline number for work.

In fact I've put on the contact form never to contact me unless they've tried everyone else on the list first and even then don't be suprised if they can't get me!

My mum is an emergency contact and she is ususally but not often fairly nearby. If she's on holiday school would have to wait 90 minutes for dh to get there.

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 04-Oct-12 18:29:14

"it is perfectly reasonable to send in a child who says they are feeling a bit off colour but being prepared to collect if they feel worse later in the day"

What does this mean? take a day off work and sit at home/by the school gates just incase?

Helenagrace Thu 04-Oct-12 18:49:04

You could work within a mile of the school and not be able to collect your child.

When I was a hospital manager DD's nursery was within a mile of the hospital. One day there was a huge pile up on the M5. DH was stuck three cars behind the pile up and I was duty managing the hospital.

There was no way we could get DD. DH was an hour and a half late picking her up. I got home in the wee small hours.

The nursery made so many calls to page me that switchboard were rude to them.

Back to the OP. Very badly worded letter. I do hope someone sends a response along the lines of those posted here.

wimblehorse Thu 04-Oct-12 18:56:10

Agree it's a stupid letter.

I would LOVE to be able to work closer to school/home, but even before the recession there weren't enough jobs in the (London commuter) suburb I live in.

I would LOVE to be able to name a whole host of emergency contacts, but having crazily oversubscribed schools and so a lottery of the allocated place means DS started school in an area where we don't know any other parents.

Even if I was a SAHM I wouldn't be permanently attached to my mobile AND within 10 mins of the school anyway.

If it's an emergency, the school need to deal with it and catch parents up when they can. If it's not an emergency, then ideally the child will be collected within an hour, but need to accept this is not always possible. If it's a forgotten PE kit or lunch then the school should provide spares/school dinner.

When DS was at nursery, I had signed a form so they could give calpol if he had a temperature. In practice this happened once, they called to say he had a temp so could I collect and to check I was happy for them to give calpol. I was and so by the time I arrived (an hour later) his temp had come down and he was much more comfortable. Surely something similar could be done in schools?

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Thu 04-Oct-12 18:57:52

An hour and a half late to pick a child up at at the end of the day, and you think that it was ok for someone to be rude to the staff! shock

People who look after children often have their own children to pick up and can't wait around for that long, and they often won't be paid for that time. One person can't be left alone with the child for child protection reasons, so what did you expect them to do? If I had been in charge of that situation I'd have been forced to call social services long before an hour and a half.

Haloweeny, it means that most people acknowledge that it is often hard to tell whether a child is ill enough to be kept off school or not early in the morning, so if a parent is genuinely not sure if their child is ill or not, then it's ok to send them in as long as you are aware that they might need to be picked up if they deteriorate.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 04-Oct-12 18:59:08

I wonder ... if one of the teachers at this school has kids at another school, does the HT let them drop everything instantly so they can collect their child within half an hour?

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 04-Oct-12 18:59:55

"hen it's ok to send them in as long as you are aware that they might need to be picked up if they deteriorate"

so same as every other day then, they are still "allowed" to go to work right?

scrablet Thu 04-Oct-12 19:04:19

Well ,at the risk of being deleted, this just cannot be true, can it?

Woozley Thu 04-Oct-12 19:06:06

IME they are more likely to send a child home "at the drop of a hat" if they know you are around to pick them up...

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 04-Oct-12 19:13:23

Scrablet it might be. Our daycare has asked that someone is available to collect within an hour- we live In a commuter town, if we could guarantee such a person they'd be doing our childcare! Admittedly that is private but some people can be a bit odd!

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Thu 04-Oct-12 19:14:16

The head sounds like an arse and needs to join the real world.

It's helpful to have someone close by, obviously that's not always possible and as long as a parent or carer is contactable then it's not usually a problem. Just make your best effort to get there as soon as. I would point out though that we don't give calpol and 'resting in a comfy place' might mean a kip in the story corner or being sat on a hard chair in the office. If your child is chucking up then a couple of hours of that isn't pleasant for them or us.

hatesponge Thu 04-Oct-12 19:14:36

I had a conversation with the old witch of a headmistress at the DSs old school when it once took me 1.5 hours to get back from work to collect DS2. She suggested that I find more local work! I was tempted to tell her that as a specialist lawyer I can't just work anywhere but given she was stupid enough to say that in the first place I really didn't see the point.

hatesponge Thu 04-Oct-12 19:19:03

And just to add the same head also said if in future we didn't collect either DS within an hour in future she would have to inform Social Services.

I therefore believe every word of the op. But for the fact she has now retired I would think it was DSs old school!

Helenagrace Thu 04-Oct-12 19:25:20

outraged at the risk of dripfeeding the reason switchboard were rude to them (which I never said I condoned) was because they called every five minutes for an hour. It got so bad that I couldn't take liaison calls from the ambulance service.

We weren't the only ones caught up in it. All parents were charged £75 for being late. I imagine that more than covered salaries. Sometimes you just can't walk out of work.

prettybird Thu 04-Oct-12 19:25:23

I take registration details for my ds' Minis Rugby club. As well as parents' details I also have an emergency contact details and GP's details.

But as I point out to them, if it's that much of an emergency, we wouldn't be going via the GP anyway, we would be going direct to hospital.

In fact, a kid at ds' school had an accident yesterday at the rugby club and DID have to go to hospital and get 22 stitches in his leg! shock

Helenagrace Thu 04-Oct-12 19:28:19

I love all these "forced to call social services" comments. Have you ever tried to call a duty social worker out? They have better things to do.

Evenstar Thu 04-Oct-12 19:28:25

I can see both sides of this situation, I work at a pre-school and might well be needed to maintain the adult to child ratio and not be able to leave if DS was taken ill at school, I am also a single parent and although I have friends who could collect they might not always be available either. Equally I am extremely unwell tonight and will lose a day's pay tomorrow due to a parent (single parent SAHM so not always the working ones!) sending in a child with a gastric bug and not telling us until I had changed 2 horrible nappies! We do definitely have an issue with working parents chancing it thinking they will be OK, but also with parents whose children are a little "challenging" who don't seem keen to look after them themselves and will send them in even they are poorly. I have more sympathy with the working parents as I know how many employers can be very difficult about time off to look after sick children. The school phrased the letter very badly and it is totally unreasonable to expect parents to remain within a certain distance of the school during the day.

EdgarAllanPond Thu 04-Oct-12 19:30:43

the school probably could have supplied a list of trusted Ofsted listed local childminders on request for parents without the local contacts needed to have someone near at all times.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Thu 04-Oct-12 19:32:12

Helenagrace, I don't think you have to worry about drip feeding when you didn't write the OP. smile

I appreciate the circumstances you were in and that you couldn't just walk out of work, but the fact that you didn't have anyone else nearby that they could call is what caused the problem. Putting it in personal terms, your job shouldn't mean that I can't leave work to collect my own children.

It is not right that a childcare worker should either have to face their own child being collected late (and be subject to the charge) or have to leave a colleague in a vulnerable position. But if that had happened at my old workplace, those would have been the choices. That's why social services would have been called.

hatesponge Thu 04-Oct-12 19:33:36

In my case we did have an emergency contact, our then CM. On the day DS was ill she was attending a memorial service for her DD. I did explain this to the school but it fell on deaf ears...

This was the same school who also insisted I should be contactable AT ALL TIMES by mobile. When I explained I am sometimes in court or on conference calls they asked If a colleague could answer my mobile and interrupt me!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 04-Oct-12 19:36:42

Edgar no childminder would accept that role in case it took them over their numbers or they had to take in a sick child that would infect their regular mindees.

Viviennemary Thu 04-Oct-12 19:41:21

I have heared this of this before. I suppose the school only wants to have somebody they can contact in an emergency.

Anypointinseeingdoc Thu 04-Oct-12 19:47:18

Is there any truth in the rumour, promulgated by my child's school, that social services must be called if the parent is not contactable within 20 minutes of the school's first attempt at contact?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 04-Oct-12 19:50:09

I think it is if the parent is an hour late for regular pick up and can't be contacted.

thebody Thu 04-Oct-12 19:51:04

Don't belive you, sorry, my dh worked in Australia for 6 months while I was in Stafford, dds at school in Worcestershire.

Never heard if this. I imagine the school meant could there be a designated person on their list to pick up the child if parents are too far away to pik up within the hour.

That's sensible as a sick child should be collected ASAP,,

I suspect crossed wires here.

thebody Thu 04-Oct-12 19:54:59

Helen, why haven't you got a fall back plan if both you and dh are late to pik up?

As an ex cm I would be livid if a parent picked up hours later, how bloody rude, nursery staff, teachers and cms have commitments too.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Thu 04-Oct-12 19:55:23

No there is no truth in that anypoint, but schools can and do call social services if a child is not collected and parent is uncontactable within a reasonable period once school is closed.

Pippa6774 Thu 04-Oct-12 19:58:48

re emergency contacts.
If you haven't got family nearby , i can't exactly imagine people, queuing round the block to look after somebody else's barfing child!

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 04-Oct-12 19:58:50

"Edgar no childminder would accept that role in case it took them over their numbers or they had to take in a sick child that would infect their regular mindees"

not only that, but if they joined that list they would have to commit to always being one child UNDER their numbers allowance, and they wouldn't do that without a hefty retainer!

sassytheFIRST Thu 04-Oct-12 19:58:56

Absolute bollocks. As a teacher myself, it would take me a minimum of 20 mins to leave site (talking yr child is sick, not life threatening emergency here) - I'd have to arrange covet, set work for classes I'll miss eyc. Then a 25 min journey. GPs live close to school but mil doesn't drive and fil not always at home.

halloweeneyqueeney Thu 04-Oct-12 20:02:06

"Helen, why haven't you got a fall back plan if both you and dh are late to pik up?"

you offering?

HazleNutt Thu 04-Oct-12 20:06:04

Shouldn't the childminders who cannot pick up their own DC because of work commitments also have a fall back plan?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 04-Oct-12 20:06:32

TBF thebody a massive motorway pileup could stymie every backup plan and Helena wasn't the only one whose DC was caught in it.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 04-Oct-12 20:07:45

And don't forget that everyone involved in the merry cycle of back up plans would need appropriate car seats on standby.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Thu 04-Oct-12 20:16:51

Personally, and luckily for me, I do have back up plans. The one that would involve my child being collected as quickly as possible would involve my husband leaving work and therefore not getting paid. Not something we would be happy about doing because of someone else's job. Especially if I did get paid for my time it would be well over half what we would lose in DH having to leave.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 04-Oct-12 20:41:42

My back up plans are, like many people's, patched together...
Me (commuting 1h plus)
DH (commuting 1h plus)
SIL (finishes maternity leave soon, also has no car seat)
PT working mum friend - available two days per week, spare car seat.
Various SAHM or local Wohm friends who could probably borrow car seats off each other

All of the above have their own DCs and so I would be loathe to get them to collect a sick DC.

It is only luck that major transport incidents eg person under train haven't ever caught me and DH on the same day.

MaureenMLove Thu 04-Oct-12 20:42:52

It's a ridiculous suggestion by the head, without a doubt!

However, whilst these things are fresh in your mind, can I ask you all to check that your emergency contact details are correct and up-to-date - especially if you have secondary kids.

As first aider at a secondary school, I spend hours sometimes, phoning upto 6 or 7 numbers and I get, 'no, sorry, she doesn't work here anymore' or 'number not known' etc etc. You'd also be suprised, how many teenagers, don't actually know where their parents work!

Still a daft letter to send though. Life ain't that easy when you've got kids and you work!

ohanotherone Thu 04-Oct-12 20:45:57

Well my hubby works over 80 miles away and I work about 40 miles away so if they want to find some work any nearer I suggest that they get looking on my behalf.....

ohanotherone Thu 04-Oct-12 20:54:00

Also, to those teachers who whinge when I send my child in with a slightly snotty nose I will point out that I weigh up mild illness of child against importance of dealing with very sick people in the community and usually they have a a lot more going on than a snotty nose.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 04-Oct-12 21:00:48

Which teachers are those then?

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Thu 04-Oct-12 21:07:44

I've moaned about parents sending unwell children into school. I don't include snotty noses in that.

treadonthecracks Thu 04-Oct-12 21:10:21

I was called this week to pick up my son.

I am a TA and was running a group session, stuff spread out every where, right in the middle of our activity. I am 10 mins walk away from my children, but it took us half an hour to tidy up, I can't just abandon the children, I have to find my boss and the colleagues i will be leaving in the lurch at lunch time.

Even if you work close by it can take time to get there.

As an aside there was absolutely nothing wrong with DS, as confirmed by the doctor Grrrr.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 04-Oct-12 21:16:35

Tread - quite. As I hinted, I bet this HTs staff aren't allowed to drop their class and run.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Thu 04-Oct-12 21:24:17

That is hilarious. I LIVE more than half an hour's bus journey away from my DS's primary school. Not by choice, my older DD was a mid-year SEN transfer on house move, it was the only school with places for her, DS1 & DS2 both started school before she went to Secondary, therefore had to be at the same school, and none of the closer schools have spaces for them.

Just, well, WTF! I'd go literally bananas at an edict like this coming from the DS's primary. Though it wouldn't surprise me...

GrimmaTheNome Thu 04-Oct-12 21:31:50

Well yes. There's just been a thread about children - secondary, admittedy - having hour long commutes.

ivykaty44 Thu 04-Oct-12 21:34:37

If you don't send your dc in to school unwell then you get a letter home telling you that big bro is watching you as your dc has had to many sick days from school all ready - so you have to send in a sick dc and then refuse to pick them up unless they sign a disclaimer about sickness when you get there....

GetDownNesbitt Thu 04-Oct-12 21:35:45


Did they not mean that you should ideally have emergency contacts who are a) contactable and b) able to get to the school?

I have had a situation before where a child was taken to hospital from school. Parents not answering their phones, no-one else on contact list. A member of staff had to go and sit with child for three hours until parent finally returned our call.

Fairyliz Thu 04-Oct-12 21:36:56

At the risk of a flaming
I am that school secretary; its a regular occurrence for ill children to be sent to school because 'mummy and daddy have to go to work'. The teaching staff try to keep them going for a while, but in the end send them down to me as their job is to teach, not nurse sick children.

I try and contact parents but also have to keep an eye on what may be a very distressed child. Ok in 99.99% of the time it's probably only a little bug but what if it was something more serious? As you can imagine I don't get much office work done if parents don't come for two hours. I then end up carrying out work in my own time. No budget for overtime payments or a school nurse. So what is the answer?

When I was at school in the dark ages we had a school nurse and sick bay

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 04-Oct-12 21:45:23

Well said fairyliz

LFCisTarkaDahl Thu 04-Oct-12 21:45:53

I'm a foster cater and if I can't collect before the end of the school day they would call SS.

This would apply even if she was sick, they would keep her until at the end of the school day at school.

They have a sick room, it's what it's for. Neither dh (teacher) nor I can leave work.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Thu 04-Oct-12 21:49:55

Also, all my friends that have DC's at this school ALSO live more than a 30min bus journey from the school, and the closest family member lives a 1hr+ commute away too.

I have two emergency contacts down with the school, but they would probably NOT get there before me, unless I was in hospital. That's life. <<Shrugs>>.

I don't send my DC's in when I know they are ill, but I don't own a crystal ball. I got moaned at by the school when I was in a jobcentre appointment so had to turn my phone off, my first emergency contact had the appointment after me (!) and my second emergency contact was on holiday. WTF else are you meant to do?!

UniS Thu 04-Oct-12 21:54:58

school have 4 numbers for DS.
Me - home and mobile
DS land line at work
local emergency contact ( parent with a child in same class)
Not local emergency contact. Lives some miles away but knows our kid, would be able to have him overnight in an emergency also knows who else in our family should take over should DH and I both be out of the picture due to disaster.

WildWorld2004 Thu 04-Oct-12 22:00:52

I am a single parent & i work. I also have a few emergency numbers. One lives literally next door to the school but the school can not expect everyone to stay within an hour of the school everyday just incase the child is ill. Thats crazy & unworkable.

missingmumxox Thu 04-Oct-12 22:41:19

Oh Goodie! does this mean I get to hang out on school trips which are an hour away from my home town? do you think I should stay at the same hostel or a different one for trips abroad?

on a serious note, Dh works away during the week and I am 45 mins away on a good day, and sometime I could be further afield, I have a mobile but can't always use it for instance next or so month I will be at sea wearing a dry suit, I don't think they have handy pockets for a mobile even if I could hear it above the engine noise!

I have 3 back up numbers 2 work within a few hundred yards of the School, until this week one was on mat at home over a hour away and now has 2 DC of her own to worry about, the other has 4 children at the same school, only unfortunately she could be busy...Sorry Mrs Smith could you wait for your Chemo? it's just my friends DC has a bit of a headache! the third is still on mat leave and within 1 1/2 miles, unfortunately (not for her) she just had twins and a Ds who whilst he would be at school, doesn't help the car seat situation as I have dt's so if I couldn't make it to the school close to the end of school she would not be able to help.

What I do, do is on days I will be out of county or touch is pop a note into the school alerting them to it and giving extra contact of my Admin, if out of touch if out of county the switch number of the place I am at and the name of the chair/organiser of the meeting,and phone on vibrate.
at the end of the new contacts letter, I then write a potted up to date med history, any meds they might be taking and state and sign that I give permission for the school to administer any medication they feel appropriate and give consent for any medical intervention a medical doctor or registered nurse may advise, I also check with friend with Dc at same school that if I am late she can pick up from after school club, as I know that I signed something 2 years ago but it I hope gives the school confidence if something did go wrong that I would not become a nightmare over it, to be fair the chance is very small but I have dealt with a lifetime of small chances being a nurse so I go down the line of cover all bases
However I can only say I have totally the opposite in Dc school and their nursery Only ever called twice by nursery once Ds need a stitch and once for chicken pox, both reasonable, school phoned me last week to tell me Ds2 had a rash, when I started to think...what the Jeff do I do about this clinic! she must have heard my panic and said "Oh don't worry he is fine, we just thought we should tell you as you don't pick up, we where worried in case you wondered why we didn't notice it" and the after school head has given me her mobile number in case I get caught in traffic when collecting them, as she knows I work so far away, fortunately up to press it has never happened but I feel better that if it ever did she would be aware.

What a timely post OP...

Our Playground is currently atwitter regarding two letters, in two days, regarding supposed parental transgressions. (They'll be bringing the belt back for us old-timers I'm telling you). As the second letter managed to cover 5 separate topics, we are all now playing the 'me, not me, could be me, definitely NOT me' ticking off the list game.

At the end of letter 1 it was remarked that, due to a reaction (Teacher's; unavoidable daily product; NOT life threatening) we were asked to 'please alert us to any reactions/allergies that your child may have' - I am tempted to reply, 'My child is allergic to bullshit'.

Disclaimer I am (personally) aware of severe nut allergies etc - no allergy bashing here.

dikkertjedap Thu 04-Oct-12 23:27:32

I think that the Head could have worded the letter better. However, as another poster has pointed out, state schools don't have nurses, are generally not allowed to administer calpol etc and have nobody to look after sick children.

What do you expect the school to do with a puking kid or a kid which feels really unwell?

In our school they will be put on a bench in the playground if puking or told to wait in the hallway if they feel ill. The secretary will now and then try to have a look and chase the parents.

Parents at our school need to be able to have their child collected within one hour. If they are not able to arrange this three times in a certain time period then Social Services is notified.

It is absolutely understandable that parents work, it is also understood that schools are there to teach children and that parents have a duty to look after their own children and make appropriate arrangements where necessary no matter how inconvenient this may be at times.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 04-Oct-12 23:31:39

Dikker what arrangements do those parents make and what do social services do if they are called?

dikkertjedap Thu 04-Oct-12 23:40:26

Parents are expected in these circumstances to make sure that their child is being collected. By whom, is up to the parent.

I am not involved in any referrals/liaisons with social services as this is done by the Safeguarding Officer (which is the Head Teacher). However, since Social Services got involved this specific child has been collected when requested by the school. So something clearly was done one way or another.

Startailoforangeandgold Thu 04-Oct-12 23:45:01

Gosh, I can see SS being happy to have that added to their jobs list.

In any case unless a child has serious health issues, three times in any reasonable time frame is unlikely.

hatesponge Thu 04-Oct-12 23:46:51

Can't bear schools using social services as a stick to beat hardworking parents with. There will always be instances when parents and their emergency contacts may be unable to collect in an hour. It's naïve to think otherwise.

Am so glad my DC no longer attend a school where such threats are considered acceptable by the middle class 2 parent families in charge.

elastamum Thu 04-Oct-12 23:56:14

I am a single parent who works full time and I have been working in New York before now, whilst my kids have been at school to be picked up by my au pair confused. At least their school, partly boarding, has a matron and a sick bay.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Thu 04-Oct-12 23:57:28

WasLost - other allergies can be JUST as life threatening as nut allergies.

My DS3 is allergic to Cow's Milk Protein, Soy and nuts. He is FAR more allergic to Cow's Milk Protein than he is to nuts, he gets rashes and hives from his nut allergy, he goes into full blown anaphylaxis from even the tiniest traces of Cow's Milk Protein.

I WISH people would stop peddling the theory that nut allergies are more dangerous than other allergies. Because that just ISN'T true. Someone can have their life threatened by their Dairy allergy just as much as another person can be by their nut allergy.

That sort of comment makes me realise JUST how hard it is going to be to keep my DS3 safe when he starts pre-school or Reception.

People have no qualms about a nut-free school, but even when faced with incontrovertible evidence that my DS3's CMP allergy is just as severe, I'll bet they would kick up a stink about a CMP free school. angry

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 00:03:18

So there was a case in your school where a sick child wasn't collected within an hour three times, is that what you mean?

thebody Fri 05-Oct-12 00:06:46

Yes as childminder of course I had a back up plan for my own children.

Every parent should,, me and my dh work full time like everyone else, afraid if you have kids you have to accommodate for emergencies.

When my dd was badly injured I had to change my whole career, that's life.. If you have kids they are your responsibility,at pik up time not the school, not the cm, not the nursery but yours....

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 00:11:52

I find it difficult to understand on what grounds social services would get involved if it was as simple as not picking up within an hour three times. Neglect? Abandonment? Abuse? Doesnt seem like any of those.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 00:13:30

Thebody what was your bulletproof backup plan? I'm genuinely interested as I'm aware mine is patched together as detailed and would be happy to explore other options.

thebody Fri 05-Oct-12 00:32:45

Hi bullet, my first call was me,, not dh as he always worked abroad so not easy.

So discounting him my second was my mom, third , fourth and fifth my friends who had all agreed to be called In emergencies as i had for their kids.

I do totally understand that In grave life threatening emergencies sometimes protocol doesn't work, that's why perhaps I see the teachers and the parents view.


A certain brand of toothpaste.

NOT food - nuts/dairy et al, I had hoped my comments and disclaimer pointed to the fact that this was a (imho) spurious addendum by the writer of the school letters at justifying their right to mount their high, high horse at other minor (uniform etc) infractions by parents tiny children.

Apologies if you believed I was dismissing serious allergic reactions in children as minor. (Dairy is my no-go too - mild but life-long allergies).

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 00:37:18

But thebody didn't your friends have DCs that they wouldn't want infected with whatever the poorly child had, and vice versa for you (even more as you had mindees as well)?

I agree a late pickup is potentially easier to cover as long as all your options aren't also the other side of a serious local traffic incident.

thebody Fri 05-Oct-12 00:43:13

Doctrine, to just add , dd was badly injured in a school trip coach crash in France in feb this year.

I was the parent contact and knew nothing until a mom called me at 8am to say the girls coach had crashed. My dd was on it.

4 hours later we heard that she was alive. Via face book...

Don't want to hijack thread but its viital that parents understand the need to have a back up plan, numbers, email addresses even face book as that is now we communicate.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 00:47:37

So sorry that happened thebody sad

thebody Fri 05-Oct-12 00:48:38

Doctrine, of course as a parent you keep a child safe if they are in your care..I had one cuddled up on our sofa as m was giving birth( not in same room thankfully however we had no insurance for him or overnight care agreement!!! That's life now isn't it and sad.)

thebody Fri 05-Oct-12 00:49:58

Think we agree doctrine, we all act as parents and hope for best!!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch might lives near me, I can tell just from their post wink

Beyond crap isn't it? A long, often essential, trip for essentials/appointment? (unavailable locally) has you sweating childcare bullets when their/my road can affected for hours/overnight by a traffic accident.

Startailoforangeandgold Fri 05-Oct-12 02:12:27

I haven't put an extra contact on DD2's school form, if they can't get Me or DH who'll take about an hour and a half, school will have to manage.

My parents live too far off and DH's are dead-sorry about that.

I'm not putting the family friend I used to, she now has 4 DCs at two different schools and a job. likewise I can't see any of the other mum's being able to rush of from work or whatever they are doing to chase my DCs.

In any case in ten years of school only once have I had a problem and that was of schools making, they cancelled an after school club with bugger all notice when no way could I get back by 3.30.

Fortunately being the end of school it was relatively easy to find a house she could go to.

nooka Fri 05-Oct-12 03:22:28

When I was at school I was sent home twice with tonsillitis, I don't remember if they tried to contact my mother or not (she was a SAHM so presumably contactable, if not immediately) but I do remember walking/getting the bus home. I would have been 8 or so I guess. Doubt they'd do that now!

We have plenty of local emergency contacts now, when dh is a SAHD and we don't really need them, but when we lived in London none of our friends lived locally, and they would have probably been just as unlikely to get to school within an hour or so as dh or I. I can't imagine that we were unusual.

Helenagrace Fri 05-Oct-12 07:53:15

I'm not sure what schools think Social Services will do. I volunteer at a nursery school. A parent turned up to collect a child and they were clearly in no fit state to take the child into their care. SS advised calling the police; who arrived and promptly dealt with the parent. SS turned up at about 8pm by which time the parent had arranged an alternative themselves.

As far as SS were concerned the child was in a place of safety, being cared for. SS are not going to hotfoot it to school by 4pm to take a child whose parents are delayed. They're certainly not going to take a puking child into their care during the school day.

It's a hollow threat.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Fri 05-Oct-12 07:56:22

Calling social services will be in most settings non collection policy. I have never tried it so I don't know what they would do if called, but it's not an empty threat to say they would at least be called for advice. Children will not be considered adequately cared for if all but one member of staff are forced to leave.

halcyondays Fri 05-Oct-12 08:05:39

I love how people think you can magic these emergency contacts out of nowhere. Of course you can't just get a childminder from a list, they're not going to pick up a random sick child, they have to think of their other mindees. Unless you're lucky enough to have a relative close by who's available and willing to deal with your sick child, then it's going to fall to one of the parents.

Whatever did schools do before mobile phones? Mums may have been more likely to be at home not far away, but they might also have been out shopping and not be contactable. In my day (1980s) there will still some people who didn't even have a home phone. Of course in those days they still had the school nurse.

halcyondays Fri 05-Oct-12 08:09:01

We haven't put anyone else down for emergency contacts apart from dh and me. There just isn't anyone I could ask to pick up a sick child.

flow4 Fri 05-Oct-12 08:11:51

I look forward to the school improving local rural bus services. Round here it takes the CHILDREN over half an hour to get to school. Before I could drive, it took me a minimum of an hour to get to school by public transport if I ever needed to...
Some schools are just ridiculous. hmm grin

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 08:14:55

I'm sure my primary school didn't have a school nurse. There was one TA (I don't suppose that's what she was officially called back then) but I think she dealt with poorly children, vomiting kids, kids who'd pee'd themselves etc. This was the 60s, we didn't have a home phone, I'm sure lots of people didn't.

Once the school wanted to contact my mother so they sent my brother home at lunchtime - 1/2 mile walk each way - to get her (that wasn't even an emergency, he'd let slip she was a teacher, they wanted to beg her to come and work for them as soon as I turned 5...can you imagine that now!!)

MadderHat Fri 05-Oct-12 08:16:52

On the motorway pile up subject, we were looking around schools for our child who will be starting next year. One school specifically mentioned their contingency plans for if our local very-busy-road had an accident which would cause gridlock, which happens at least once a year. It included feeding hungry, tired children tea, games and activities and homework sessions as well as a "snooze" zone.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Oct-12 08:27:05

Madder - yes, I'm not sure it was stated as a contingency plan but my DDs school was used to dealing with the results of M6 blockage. They had an after school club which no doubt helped the logistics- and one of the people who was always there anyway supervising and handing out the sandwiches was the HT. He was a bit of a prat in some ways but I've no doubt he saw himself as being in loco parentis and responsible for the children.

It's a very well talking about contingency plans and other such things, but the practical reality of some people's aren't as simple as 'you just make sure you or someone you trusts can be there'. For significant portions of DS1's life, all his emergency contacts lived hours away (at one point 6-8 hours away in a different country). There was no one else to put down. And the childminder stuff is the sort of poorly thought through nonsense you get on AIBU all the time; how many people can afford to pay a childminder to be on call just in case? They would have to charge, as you'd be taking up a space even though you almost never used it. It's astoundingly easy to be in a situation at work where you can't get away/answer the phone and/or it'll take you more than 30 minutes to get to the school and sometimes there is no backup plan. All the handwringing in in the world isn't going to change that.

It seems sometimes you just can't win: either you work and then people wring their hands at your fecklessness in not being on hand to pick your kid up from school any time there's a sniffle; or you don't work and then you're a feckless benefits scrounger.

prettybird Fri 05-Oct-12 08:43:48

In terms of contingency plans, you can't always plan for every eventuality. That's way sometimes companies will declare "Force Majeure", or events totally outwith their control.

As parents, we do what we can, but we also hope that schools (acting in loco parentis) will also use common sense.

Events like a major pile up on the M5, or the 7/7 bombings may justifiably means that a parent is unavoidably detained.

In such cases, if a school can't get hold of alternative emergency contacts, then you would hope that they would contact Social Services, not as a threat but for help. God forbid, the parents might have been in an accident (or worse) and not able to get to school.

The head teacher is plain stupid to think that "making" hmm one parent work within half an hour of the school that that would magically solve everything.

halcyondays Fri 05-Oct-12 09:31:25

As if anyone is going to change their jobs because the school recommend that one parent works locally. hmm

sarahtigh Fri 05-Oct-12 14:51:03

last year in a storm a tree fell on road near here blocking main road for 24 hours there was a diversion is was 68 miles long ( remote scotland) I would think at least 60 children were trapped at school as school bus could not take them home neither could parents reach them, simialrliy the A82 gets shut off for hours at least 3 times a year because of fatal accidents depending where it is diversions can be 15-80 miles long

I was stuck for 4 hours once only 2 miles from home but police would not let you abandon car and walk as your car would then be blocking the road, your choice was stay put or drive the 50 miles round. In that type of circumstance I would expect school to understand that sometimes despite your best efforts you simply can not get there, the emergency contacts I would have would not have been able to get there for same reason as me
the school is BU majorily so, social services would not be remotely interested in one failure to pickup for a reasonable reason in fact is a reasonable excuse liie fatal accident tree fallen they would not be interested even if it had happenned several times

neither would they be interested in a failutre to pick up in 10-15 minutes when parent was an hour away and left to pick up and arrived an hour later

most of it is empty threats here it takes a social worker 15 mins via switchboard to reach emergency contacts!!!

diddl Fri 05-Oct-12 15:04:14

So what will be the "penalty" for "repeat offenders"?

Expell the child??!!

alemci Fri 05-Oct-12 15:17:46

sounds ridiculous. just go yeah, yeah nod and nod and carry on doing what you are doing.

I'm at home at present, but last year I was working 30 miles away, DP works 15 miles away (but isn't allowed his mobile in the office). My emergency contacts were my parents and MIL. My friends all work so can't put them down.

MIL is no longer an emergency contact, and while I'm at home, I'm not always contactable as I'm ferrying MIL to various hospital appointments regarding her cancer (hence why she's no longer on the list). The hospital is 15 miles away - no chance of making it to school in half an hour.

Dad drives, mum can't. If dad is not there, school would just have to wait for either DP or me. If dad is there, he is disabled and can take 10 mins to get to his car, let alone get to school.

So far, I've not had a problem. I don't send in sick children, but there have been times when they have once or twice become ill during the day and I don't have a crystal ball.

No parent can plan for every eventuality, I don't believe there's a bullet-proof plan.

SusanneLinder Fri 05-Oct-12 16:53:22

Well I work in SS and I can JUST imagine the faces of our Social Workers if we got a call from a school regarding a child not being picked up within an hour. grin

The convo would go like this" So has mum/dad refused to pick up child or cannot be contacted"?

"Er no, the parents are still half an hour away, but we need them picked up within an hour,school policy"

"this is not child protection, so fuck off, wait till the parent gets there then, as they will only be another half an hour.Good day!

After all, assuming that SS would come away from dealing with abused and neglected kids that actually need help, which they wouldn't, cos they dont provide a bloody nanny service either, the kid would be made to sit in a SS office. grin

Fairyliz Fri 05-Oct-12 17:25:29

Some of these posts are getting ridiculous now. Of course schools have plans for real emergencies roads/weather etc and in difficult situations eg very ill parents would be more than happy to help out. However it seems to be every day ill children being sent to school as parents are working.
As school secretary I end up looking after them and doing office work in my own time. Last week it was 15 hours unpaid overtime, so I feel I am subsidising working parents. Is that fair?

alemci Fri 05-Oct-12 17:27:08

is there no welfare person or medical room so that the child may sit in there for a space of time.

The only time that I ever heard of anything like this was when a child at school had SN - of a more serious level and the parent was supposed to always be within an hour of getting to her child.

NoIdeaWhyTheNameChange Fri 05-Oct-12 17:33:06

It's ridiculous to dictate what parents get up to during the school day. It might be wise to advise parents to put someone local down on their contacts form, if there is anyone willing and available.

DS goes to school over half an hour drive from our house. So not sure how that would work. grin

prettybird Fri 05-Oct-12 17:42:15

Fairyliz - no that's not fair. But that's not going to be addressed by a dictat from the headteacher that a parent should always be within half an hour of the school hmm.

There does need to be common sense though. And that was not exhibited by the school that rang the hospital switch board every 5 minutes during the middle of a major incident and was actually getting in the way of the hospital dealing with the incident (as an example a MNer gave earlier).

And some people have said that yuo should plan for every contingency. So others have pointed why that might not always help.

But I do agree: if a child is genuinely ill, they should not be sent in to school. You should make sure that your contact details are always up to date and do your best to have alternate contacts, should you not be available.

It is basic courtesy.

GoSakuramachi Fri 05-Oct-12 18:31:41

I don't see why everyone is getting so worked up. The head might as well as said all parents must unicycle to school juggling three toddlers and a orange. It's as meaningless.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 23:58:54

Susanne thanks for confirming our suspicions that SS would be baffled by a call on this subject!

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Oct-12 01:24:48


I totally agree, but I don't think its common courtesy, its putting your children first. Ok parents have to work but you owe it to your dcs to have someone there if they are ill.
This is the responsibility of the parents not the school. I can't believe people suggest "The school should deal with it or cope" Who in the school? The teacher, the TA, the secretary, they all have jobs and nursing sick kids who should be at home being looked after is not one of their jobs.
I have seen poor kids left for an hour and its heart breaking they want to be in bed. Too many people think school are free child minders, they are educators and have hundreds of kids to TEACH, not nurse and babysit.
Do agree though that the letter shouldn't have specified parents, but responsible adult for emergency contact. I am emergency for several of dds friends as their parents work a distance from school, she is home ed now so I'm always available. We had no family near by when dh and I both worked but we asked a neighbour, friend, other parent. Theres no excuse.

dysfunctionalme Sat 06-Oct-12 01:50:38

Our pre school insists children go home at the first sign of d&v, or fever. This is for the benefit not only of the ill child but for the many other children and teachers. 3 contacts are required. Spare car seats are available for anyone unexpectedly doing pick ups. The staff:teacher ratio is a legal requirement and there are no spare teachers to do isolation cover. I think all this is more than fair.

However, I have difficulty believing the original post. I imagine that the school has asked for contact of someone who can pick up within half an hour which is more than reasonable.

Spermysextowel Sat 06-Oct-12 03:50:07

'Out for the day to meet friends or go shopping or whatever'. The OP would wind me up if I had responsibility for their child & they were too busy shopping.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 07:32:01

Spermy I think the OP means they could be shopping or at a friend's more than the specified travel time away.

Potato, given you had your DD at home would you really have been happy to collect a sick child and potentially infect her? You are a good woman if so, but it wouldn't be reasonable to expect everyone to know someone so noble!

Dysfunctional, the spare car seats is a good idea.

I do agree that teaching doesn't strictly equal childcare. However, school is the place your child is during the day and the government, taxation, benefits system etc makes it clear that once a child is of school age then both parents are expected to work. The retirement age is increasing so even if grandparents do live nearby, they may be at work too. School is a legal requirement, it can't be restricted to those lucky enough to know a SAHP who would be prepared to pick up a sick child.

To the school secretary having to do 15 hours of unpaid catch up - whatever the parental situation, looking after sick kids for a while, if it is part of your role, should be in your job description and budgeted for in your "time commitments".

There are more than 600 kids on DS's school site, I do think it's unlikely there are 600 contacts available within 30-60 mins. It would seem more efficient to have an extra member of staff than require 600 people to work locally, but joined up thinking like that isn't a government strength (any government, non party political!)

flow4 Sat 06-Oct-12 08:12:03

Just as an aside, Fairyliz and prettybird... My DS2 was ill soon after term started, and because I agree with you, I didn't send him in, and even took time off work. He was really rather poorly and off for 4 days... So yesterday I received a letter from school telling me his attendance has dropped to unacceptable levels, and will be monitored, and they expect me to ensure it rises or they will inform SS. hmm I read this as actually telling me I must send him in, even if he's sick. Sorry Liz! But maybe think about this, and don't blame the parents next time you have a poorly child in your office...

prettybird Sat 06-Oct-12 08:53:51

sad flow4 Sometimes you just can't win sad

Some of the primary schools in England seem to have stange attitudes. My experience in Scotland has been of a much more pragmatic and common sense approach. League tables (which we don't have) have a lot to answer for sad

flow4 Sat 06-Oct-12 09:13:22

I spent an enjoyable 20 mins in the shower yesterday composing sarky replies to this ridiculous letter...

Dear school,

Thank you for your letter. I am delighted to hear you agree that my DS should always be my top priority in life. I have struggled for years to make satisfactory emergency cover arrangements and now look forward to your full support.

I am a single parent, so currently all the school collection is my responsibility... All of DS's relatives are either under 18, or live over an hour from the school, or are dead, and there's not much you can do about that. However, please will you assist me with dating advice, and pay internet dating site registration fees, so that I can find a partner to help me in future?

As you know, school places are allocated based on a child's home address rather than a parent's work address. Will you please lobby the government to change these rules?

When I am at work, I am required by my employer to attend meetings and travel around the district if requested, and it is a disciplinary offence to leave my duties without permission. These are standard conditions applying to all 17,000 employees. Will you please negotiate with my employer and the unions to vary our contracts, so we can always stay within half an hour's travelling time of school during our working days, and leave work at the drop of a hat if you call us?

Alternatively, will you please lobby the government to change tax credit and state benefit rules so that at least one parent is able to stay at home until their children leave school. Currently, single parents are expected to work once a child reaches school age, and in two parent households these days, both parents are generally expected to work.

Of course, all of these political and legislative changes will take time to achieve, but I am more than happy to give up my job and be a 'stay-at-home mum' so that I can always collect my son from school immediately in an emergency. Please confirm that you will be compensating me for loss of earnings and notify me when you have made a BACS payment of £21K into my account.

Last but not least, assuming I will be able to stay at home from now on, there is one remaining problem... As you may or may not be aware, the transport authority made service changes a few years ago, which mean that there is no longer a bus route to school from my home. Even by car, the journey from the edge of your catchment area can take 20 minutes, but this assumes roads are clear, which of course they sometimes are not. I estimate that the average journey time to school for most parents during the school day would be around 60-90 minutes. I imagine it is not practical for you to provide taxis for parents collecting children, or helicopters, if roads are busy?

However, I do have a simply, practical solution: please confirm that myself and other parents can travel to school with our children on the school bus each morning, and that you will provide sitting/waiting areas, with access to kitchen facilities, so that we can always be close at hand if an emergency arises.

Thank you most sincerely for your assistance in these matters. I look forward to seeing much more of you soon.

SoleSource Sat 06-Oct-12 09:18:42

agree with Lueji

Add to that my own opnion Is the HT is fucking nuts!

SoleSource Sat 06-Oct-12 09:22:09

Lol flow4!


flow4 Sat 06-Oct-12 09:23:39

Thank you Sole >bows< >looks modest< grin

whois Sat 06-Oct-12 09:35:51

flow4 grin

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 09:36:03

Love it, flow.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Oct-12 09:43:17

Well done Flow-which all goes to prove that GoSakuramachi was correct yesterday.

janelikesjam Sat 06-Oct-12 09:44:50

I agree with OP, bonkers. This is a growing trend, unfortunately. It is also 'Elf & Safety' gone man. You must be near the school at all times in case Little Johnnie falls over and scrapes his knee or other such life-threatening emergency that lets face it happens to us all on a regular basis hmm.

janelikesjam Sat 06-Oct-12 09:46:48

And ditto, flow 4.

Helenagrace Sat 06-Oct-12 10:09:43

flow you are a genius!

Helenagrace Sat 06-Oct-12 10:17:02

flow you forgot the bit about you welcoming home visits from the HT to verify that your child is properly ill. You wouldn't want to mess up their attendance figures by using your own judgement on this after all...

I sent an email in a similar vein this week. We're moving 300 miles in 10 weeks time. I was told by the authority we're moving to that they couldn't allocate me a school place until 4 weeks after we move. I emailed the Director of Education expressing delight at their forward thinking approach to school attendance and stating that I expect the same enlightened response when I request a term time holiday. Surprise surprise due to my "exceptional circumstances" I can have a school place three weeks before we move.

alemci Sat 06-Oct-12 11:49:21

also what has happened to the medical room and lady/welfare. do primary and secondary schools not have this any more. am i missing something. at my DC secondary school they have matron and a sickbay.

surely they can look after the child til you get there or has there been cut backs.

dikkertjedap Sat 06-Oct-12 12:14:01

Primary schools don't have spare staff milling about just in case a child is ill and parents can't have it collected.

The child will in all likelihood be left to its own devices unless it seems a medical emergency and an ambulance will be called.

The fact that a growing number of parents seem to think that it is up to the school to look after their sick child as not to inconvenience their busy lives, is all good and well, but that is no doubt one of the reasons why there are so many sickness bugs in British (state) schools and that is why learning regularly needs to take a back-seat (teachers too busy cleaning and sorting out sick children) and hence results suffer. You cannot have it both ways. And that is one of the reasons why teachers get quite fed up with certain parents as they are not able to do the job they applied for (which wasn't dealing with sick kids on a daily basis).

Ultimately, you may find your work more important, you may think you have the moral high ground because you all work and can't look after your sick child, but this will backfire, your children will learn less than otherwise would have been. They will no they are low priority of their parents and will become inevitably lower priority of their teachers (teaching healthy children takes prevalence over looking after a sick child).

This is maybe why boarding schools are better in some cases. In our area Social Services takes this seriously as they consider that parents have a duty of care for their child. The child which our Head Teacher just referred to SS had been violently sick at school three times since the start of this school year. Clearly, the 48 hour rule was not being observed (parents couldn't take time off work, let school deal with it). The child was now violently sick in class for the fourth time and one of the parents came to pick the child up pretty promptly.

It is ridiculous to think that schools contact SS willy nilly, they will do so if parents clearly are unable to look after the welfare of their child. Schools don't have a duty of care to just one child but with respect to all children. And for Academies it will be easier not to take children on or expel them, more and more primary schools will become Academies, so I do think that it is important that some parents are starting to understand that it is in their own interest to deal with the issue of pick ups during school time when necessary.

dikkertjedap Sat 06-Oct-12 12:18:07

I doubt most primary (state) schools have a matron and sick bay. Ours doesn't.

autumnlights12 Sat 06-Oct-12 12:22:50

well I must be the lone voice of disagreement then because I wouldn't consider a job which was more than a 20 min drive from my dc's school. On the few occasions they've called me because one of my children is poorly, it's been a massive relief that I could get there fast. On one occasion dd2 had split her chin open and needed stitches. Thank God I was there in 5 minutes, or she'd have had to be driven to A&E by a teacher, which would have added hugely to her distress. She wanted me. On other occasions I've been called because of vomiting. The last time, several months ago, dd2 was vomiting constantly and sitting in the toilet with a teacher she barely knew holding her hair back, caused her huge embarrassment and distress. Luckily I was there in 15 minutes with a bucket and towels and a car outside ready to take her home. And there have been other occasions- ear ache, stomach pain, playground incident causing very bumped head, headache etc... and my dc's have very high attendance rates compared with other kids who are sick all the time. And often have to sit and spend the entire day in school office feeling like a dogs dinner. And then are often sent back in the next day cos the parents are reluctant to take a day off work because they are 'so so busy'.

hatesponge Sat 06-Oct-12 12:32:24

I don't understand why schools no longer have a sick room. I went to school in the 1980s, there were sick rooms in both my primary and secondary schools (a room next to the secretary's office with a bed, sink, etc). We never had a nurse, but if you felt ill, you sat in that room til either someone came and collected you, or school finished. I was a sickly child, so spent a fair bit of time in those rooms. Why do schools seem to have got rid of them? Makes no sense to me. In my DSs old primary, ill children had to sit on a chair in the corridor!

Not all parents can work within half an hour of the school. I have had 4 different jobs since living in my current house, none has been less than an hour's commute. I live in the London suburbs. That's just the way it is. My Ex works on building sites, he has never been closer than 40 minutes from home either, and mostly a lot further than that. Most people don't have the luxury of work being available on their doorstep.

hatesponge Sat 06-Oct-12 12:40:41

Re taking time off work, in the current economic climate it's hardly surprising parents are reluctant to do so, no-one wants to give their employer a reason to think they are 'unreliable'. Being a parent is rarely a position of strength in the workplace, certainly not in the field I work in. Bear in mind also many people don't get paid if not at work and simply cant afford to lose a days earnings.

No-one I'm sure sends a really ill child to school. But I expect a lot, as I have done, cross their fingers and hope that a slightly unwell child will feel better rather than worse once at school. And the majority of the time, they do.

dikkertjedap Sat 06-Oct-12 12:41:05

Ultimately it is all about choices. Yes, working closer by might be less interesting/less well paid. Yes, living closer near work may mean as smaller house/no garden/school not being rated outstanding. Ultimately, you still have choice.

If you choose to work a long way away from your child's school, knowing that you do not have any emergency cover, then I am afraid that is your choice and you will have to deal with the consequences.

I don't think OP's school is the only school starting to clamp down on parents who seem to think that Duty of Care applies to the school but not to them.

Our school has a First Aid room, but sick kids cannot stay there on their own. It has to be free so other kids can be treated. Sick kids are put on a bench outside with a bucket if puking and otherwise they have to wait inside in the waiting are/hall way (depending how many there are at a given time, as we try not to put them to close to each other).

CassandraApprentice Sat 06-Oct-12 12:59:49

You can be nearby and uncontactable - playgroups round here insists mobiles are turned off and I've seen other mothers come out of groups to have muliple missed messages saying their DC is sick and need picking up asap.

I've been in the postion of DH working being very far away and me having to take one DC further afield to a hospital appoinment. Luckily I didn't have sick DC that day.

I don't have people locally who will have my DC in an emergency - most people round here have family who help so aren't interested in reciprocal arrangements or they work or they are not keen on sick DC in case theirs get ill. It can be hard enough getting people to walk my well DC less than 10 minutes into school when I have a sick one at home.

I'm curretly a SAHM and close by 90 % of the time - there are still times when I'm some distance away or uncontactable and DH works away during week so is few hours away and nearest realtives are an hours drive away. It's life and sods law its then the school phones and IME the DC have never really been that ill on the few occassions its happened - once it was a cough that was annoying the teacher ffs - the GP said there was nothing to be done.

flow4 Sat 06-Oct-12 13:00:39

dikker, think it through. I live 5 miles away from the nearest high school, in a rural area. There are almost 1500 children in the school, so 3000 parents, and an absolute MAXIMUM of a couple of hundred jobs within the area. It isn't a matter of choice whether or not someone can work close to school!

Besides, for much of the past ten years, I have had two children at two different schools which are over half an hour's travelling apart, so being close to one would mean being too far from the other!

hatesponge, my employer has a performance framework which means that staff who have more than 2 periods of sick leave in a year, totalling more than 7 days, do not pass their appraisal and get do not their annual increment. We have staff taking annual leave to cover their ^own* sickness; sick children cause real, significant problems.

... And when schools respond to parents keeping their genuinely sick children off school by threatening them with social services, it just compounds the problem.

Society has changed, and schools are in a difficult position because there are so few stay-at-home mums these days, with people working further and further afield... But schools that don't recognise the genuine challenges, and so make enemies of parents, are foolish and short-sighted.

hatesponge Sat 06-Oct-12 13:03:37

That's an absurdly simplistic view. If you have a career (as I do) you have to take jobs where they are available. I have worked in 4 completely different Towns (albeit all in the SE of England) in the last 10 years. They have each been the nearest jobs at the time, and none was less than an hour's commute from my home. What could I have done? Move each time to a new town, only to move again when that job came to an end? That's ridiculous! I'm far from the only person in this position - the days of people working within a few miles radius of their homes are long gone, certainly if you live in the London area.

Plus no-one has a job for life. My Ex's jobs on site last anything from a week to 6 months. I've changed jobs every 2-3 years. I can only think of one person I know who has had the same job, working in the same location, for more than 5 years. You might move so that you have a job close to home, the next one may be 30 miles away, the one after that 20 miles in a different direction. It's impossible to predict.

And as for this fabled emergency cover, where is a parent to find this? Thankfully my DC are now old enough for me not to have this worry, but it was always an issue for me when they were at primary school. My parents died long before my DC were born, I have no siblings or other family. My eldest DS has no contact with his father/father's family. My neighbours were infirm and elderly, the younger ones work FT. My friends also work whether FT or PT. When my DC were primary age, my emergency contact was their CM, but she was often out during the day (as she only had pre/post school mindees) so could never guarantee to be within a certain distance of school at all times - or in any event not busy doing something else!

motherinferior Sat 06-Oct-12 13:03:43

I am 49 and I have quite a lot of qualifications and experience and no, I don't want to do a boring badly-paid job, should one come up in the immediate area. I like my job. So shoot me.

hatesponge Sat 06-Oct-12 13:08:06

That was to dikker

flow I agree entirely. My DC's old primary school operated on the outdated notion that every family had one SAHP readily available at all times. Hence why the Head told me I should get a job closer to home, and why school staff expected me to 'pop home' during the day and get DS1's missing homework, or DS2s forgotten PE kit.

AllPastYears Sat 06-Oct-12 13:08:31

"I don't understand why schools no longer have a sick room. I went to school in the 1980s, there were sick rooms in both my primary and secondary schools (a room next to the secretary's office with a bed, sink, etc). "

Absolutely. My parents were both teachers - should they have abandoned their classes if I got sick? Mind you, one of them was in the same school, i.e. about 2 minutes walk. So maybe they could have ticked the box. grin

There were no other possible emergency contacts really.

"If you choose to work a long way away from your child's school, knowing that you do not have any emergency cover, then I am afraid that is your choice and you will have to deal with the consequences. "

Many of us can't choose where we work!

CassandraApprentice Sat 06-Oct-12 13:14:32

I'm surrised you get asked to go home and get forgotten homework and P.E kit. I'm a SAHM and not far away and depite homework being forgotten and P.E kit not being there I've never been asked to do this.

The DC get told to bring it in next day, or get given the spare school kit or just have to manage or sit it out. They've never forgotten the lunch hmm but DC who do they apparently ring and give the parents a choice about brining it in or putting them on dinners and paying later.

TigerFeet Sat 06-Oct-12 13:19:05

Bonkers. Yes we could live in a smaller house. Yes we could eat beans on toast every night. But I'm not bloody going to... dh and I work hard and like to enjoy the nice (not massive or expensive) house and varied diet etc etc. That's our choice.

THe downside of our choice is of course that we have to go to work. In opposite directions. Our home is fairly central to the both of us. DHs office is closer but he works very long hours so that makes sense in terms of time actually spent with the dc's in the house. It would (and has) taken me an hour to get to a poorly child. I would have to hand over to a colleague, finish up and drive 40 mins to school. That's assuming of course that I'm available to take calls at the right moment, if I'm in a meeting I could be an hour before even getting the message. Not a problem if dh is office based but he works away a lot, often abroad and sod's law clearly states that the dc's are only ill when he's away.

Good job the dc's school/nursery live on the same planet as I do. In fact, dh had a long stay in hospital 2 hours away last year, I was visiting him while dd2 was at nursery when she suddenly spiked a teperature of 39.5. The wonderful nursery manager took her to the doctor for me while I raced home. Above and beyond the call of duty really and much appreciated at the time.

I do have friends who would possibly be able to step in if there was an emergency but most people I know work at least part time. No family within easy driving distance although they can and do come over if a dc needs to be off for more than a couple of days. It's just going to have to do I'm afraid.

JustSpiro Sat 06-Oct-12 13:20:41

I'm surprised you get asked to go home and get forgotten homework and P.E kit

I had an absolute nightmare with the TA in DD's class the year before last doing this - called me because she hadn't gone in with a cap on an overcast day because it was forecast to be sunny later (it was sport's day - rained off by a massive thunderstorm), then because she didn't have a jacket when it was sunny and about 75 degree because 'it might rain later', and various other very minor, easily resolvable without contacting me at work stuff.

Just because I work five minutes away doesn't mean I can drop everything at a moment's notice because they expect the kids to turn up as fully equipped as Sherpa Tensing.

Luckily it was all towards the end of the summer term or I think we would have fallen out in a very major way.

hatesponge Sat 06-Oct-12 13:24:19

Cassandra I used to get called for all manner of stupid things that had to be brought into school there and then, missing homework, reading records, permission slips etc.

My favourite however was when DS1 had a nosebleed over his shirt and school called asking me to bring him in some spare clothes as they had nothing to fit him in lost property. I suggested he wear his PE kit. They hadn't thought of that...

CassandraApprentice Sat 06-Oct-12 13:28:17

That's just stupid JustSpiro I'm shocked by that.

TBH the well you'll have to manage attitude has done my DC some good - they remember things a lot more IMO as not doing so brings consequences.

There is enough thinking I'm at their beck and call as a SAHP without the school encourageing this view and if I was working I'd be livid with that attitude.

manicinsomniac Sat 06-Oct-12 13:35:07

That's absolute insanity! Nobody will pay any attention to it I'm sure.

As many others have said the distance is irrelevant anyway.

I work in the same building as my children and I still couldn't get to them that quickly. In fact, unless it was a dire emergency, I couldn't get to them at all. I can't just dump a class full of other children because mine happens to be sick. They just have to stay in sick bay.

I think the real problem is that schools have lost their sick bays. Why is that? I've never been in a school without one, they're essential as far as I'm concerned.

I also think it actually is a school's job to look after children, no matter what, within the hours that they are in loco parentis.

Do some schools really not do hospital runs themselves any more? I took two children to hospital last year (one on a school trip and one because I had a double free period). There should always be someone available in a school to do that, imo. Same with checking on a sick child. if there's no nurse (which I think there should be) then there should be a TA.

I've even heard recently of a school which calls parents in if a child wets themselves for goodness sake.

Things need to be set up to help working and single parents, not hinder us!

JustSpiro Sat 06-Oct-12 13:43:48

Luckily it was only this one particular TA that has been that bad but they do seem to expect them to have gear on them for every eventuality. The latest thing is that they want them to have a waterproof jacket to keep at school all the time so they can do PE outside in wet weather. Since waterproof jackets aren't especially cheap I said no - she can take it to and from, but tbh I'm starting to weaken just to minimise the hassle.

DD's school also arrange a huge amount of stuff in working hours. There is an hour and half assembly and 'sharing learning' session every term that every parent is expected to attend or send another adult in their place. They register the parents and will phone and follow it up if no-one comes. This is on top of all the usual school plays, parents evening, sports days etc etc.

We are very lucky that I'm five minutes down the road and my work are extremely obliging about me working round all this stuff, plus I've switched from term-time to all year round work this year which gives me a holiday allowance, but for other working parents it must be a bloody nightmare.

CassandraApprentice Sat 06-Oct-12 13:44:04

My primary school didn't have a sick bay in 80s- or my secondary but they found quiet places - where sick DC sat away from others.

My DC school must do hospital runs - as they ask you to sign concent forms in case the DC needs tratement but they can't get hold of a parent but it's not emergency treatment. Mind you I've seen the Head master walk a sick DC home as the parent couldn't get there for some good reason.

It's strange it varies so much. Its not the thing that springs to mind when looking round schools either.

alemci Sat 06-Oct-12 14:44:17

do schools not employ a welfare person anymore. that was my main question. my dcs primary school always did and their secondary state has matron. i have worked in a school and it is no joke when the children come in ill then they make you ill in the process i think.

OOH i can see how difficult it is if your child is sick and have experienced it myself.

i wonder though if some people do take advantage and the school sent a note round to everyone even though it may have been one incident

Pendeen Sat 06-Oct-12 14:46:35

OP you are quite correct.

The school cannot impose restrictions on what parents do during the school day.

Fairyliz Sat 06-Oct-12 15:07:35

So the sensible thing would be to employ a first aider to look after poorly children, but there's no money in the budget for this so what do parents suggest?
Take a TA out of the classroom but that would affect learning. Ask parents to pay extra? We already struggle to get money for swimming/ trips so that's not going to happen. So to the posters on here who think schools should look after children what are your suggestions?

I remember being in the school office at primary school in the 80s with horrendous ear infections howling in pain, and half aware the office staff couldn't get hold of either of my parents at work - both doctors shock .

School doesn't have a right to tell parents how to spend the day while their child is at school obviously, but as a parent you do have ultimate responsibility to be "on call" for your child whether you are in paid work or spend your day caring for other dependants or shopping and visiting friends an hour from school hmm. Ultimately school is there to educate children and is not meant to be an all encompassing child care setting - as others have said the budget needed for a proper sick bay is large, including one full time salary and a dedicated room if children are to be cared for properly for a couple of hours when ill. It is not only an inconvenience to the school to have parents unable to collect and care for their own sick children, it is totally miserable for the child if they are really properly ill while at school sad

I don't think it's as clear cut as "school can't tell me what to do with my day" personally... It is a no win situation in many ways and being the working parent upon whom the responsibility to care for children when sick falls is hard, but it does make sense to me that one parent or a nominated suitable adult (grandparent or other appropriate choice) does need to be a reasonable, sensible distance from school most of the time, in order to be able to get there at short notice under normal circumstances, for the child's sake as much as the school's...

flow4 Sat 06-Oct-12 15:58:11

It might well be 'reasonable', but it simply isn't possible for many of us - see my letter above.

(And thank you for your kind words and appreciation, whois, TDOS, exotic, jane and Helena smile )

Flow I appreciate that, I said its a no win situation for some - the thing is what is the solution in cases like yours? There isn't one, I'm not sure it is the school's job to care for a child who is throwing up all over the place or howling in pain (though it should be common sense that if they have a headache or tummy ache they can sit quietly in the office til it passes or similar).

However the OP was drawing attention to parents who were over an hour's driving distance from school shopping and having coffee with friends - this is rather more avoidable! School cannot dictate what parents do with their days, there are a not inconsiderable number of people who simply, with the best will in the world cannot be available to collect their child in an emergency or ensure somebody else can. However there are other people who could chose to remain a reasonable distance from school most of the time (though they may have one off days when it is impossible due to hospital visits or other responsibilities), but it appears don't think it is their job...

Some people have no choice, but many could work around one parent or some other contact being available and don't feel they should have to... Whose job is it to care for children too ill to be in school - if it is the school's then most state schools are in no way equipped to do so and the children suffer for it as well as staff.

flow4 Sat 06-Oct-12 16:53:58

Seriously? I think the solution is for schools to recognise that parents have lives and responsibilities, and to show us as much respect as they would like from us. They can ask parents to collect asap, but they cannot expect it.

They are never in a million years going to be able to guarantee that every poorly child will be collected within half-an-hour - and they will always need to provide a suitable space for a child to wait... So they might as well do it with good grace. If they plan properly, it will make 'emergencies' much less stressful for them as well as everyone else smile

I think many schools do terrible damage to their relationships with parents with letters like these - ones which are rude and demanding and unreasonable. Good schools with wise head teachers write and say "We would really appreciate it if you could review your emergency contacts and try to make sure someone can pick your child up within half an hour if necessary - but we do recognise that parents have busy, demanding lives and this might not be possible".

My DCs' school always seems to write as if they are wagging fingers at us, and it puts parents' backs up. hmm

alemci Sat 06-Oct-12 17:00:19

well put flow 4. i know i keep banging on but i am still amazed there is no sick bay/welfare. my ds is in y10 and when he left primary there was definitely a welfare lady who had been there years and when she went for lunch the SMSA's supervised.

what happens if children are diabetic or asthmatic and lots of them have allergies and epipens so i am still not believing there is no special person assigned to this.

Yes, the letter was badly worded (lots of school senior management have no people skills and seemingly no awareness of the reality of the world outside school). But at the same time I still don't think school is the place for a sick child, and I remember how it felt being the one feeling really, really ill in school with no parent coming to fetch me, and I wouldn't want that to happen to my kids - I wouldn't choose to go more than a half hour drive from school for social reasons (like shopping or visiting friends) and if I had any choice about where to work and nobody I could rely on to be the contact in my place, it would be a factor I would seriously have on my mind, as my husband already works over an hour and a half from home.

Where I live primary school is only 3-4 hours a day and a lot of ex-pat SAHP complain about how it interferes with their days, and I always think this is missing the point of having kids a bit, which has possibly given my baggage on this issue...

alemci I used to teach in the UK many moons ago, and there was a staff member with responsibility for this who was also the head first aider, but her main job was in the administrative office, she wasn't a full time welfare or sick bay officer - I think that is probably the usual state of affairs. In my daughter's school (abroad though) there are literally only 4 class teachers for 4 classes, no slack at all, and parents are totally responsible.

alemci Sat 06-Oct-12 17:23:55

tbh the primary school day is not that long. from 8.40 to 3.10 so you could never go far. i also had to either collect from playgroup or morning nursery then i worked there so i never really went far.

when i went to work school hours, my workplace was up the road. i was also fortunate to have my mum nearby, and my DH was often around due to irregular working hours.

it is hard if you have to commute and now house prices are so high i think things are very different.

LucieMay Sat 06-Oct-12 18:45:47

I don't even have my mobile on during the day (it's illegal to have a mobile on you where I work), so I imagine I wouldn't be very popular with some schools. I do have a direct landline contact number available while I'm at work, but I'm not at my desk constantly.

autumnlights12 Sat 06-Oct-12 19:44:54

I think we need to remember that a school is there to educate our children, not to nurse them. It is not a daycare establishment there for the convenience of working parents.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 06-Oct-12 19:48:36

alemci - seriously there is no such person in most state schools. Staff are all first aid trained and aware of the asthmatics and those who require epipens etc but it's not one person's responsibility. In our school sick children sit on a chair outside the office until the parent arrives and whilst I care for them best I can it's not specific in my job description and certainly not built into my hours.

To me it just makes sense where possible to have a nearby contact but if you don't and you can't collect your child then there's not much anyone can do.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Oct-12 20:00:29

Autumnlights. I totally agree, but unfortunately many on here seem to disagree.
Maybe schools should employ welfare officers to care for sick children, then parents needn't leave work and can leave the responsibility of their sick child to somebody else.
I know I could never do this, and was one of the reasons I gave up work as had nobody to look after dcs if they were ill. We live ok but could have been alot more comfortable on 2 wages.
After working as a TA and teacher I saw many a sick child who just wanted a relative, not me or another member of staff. Most parents do make it within half an hour ime, but there were quite alot of sahm in schools in my area.
How do people manage when their dcs are off school for several days and child minders won't take their sick dcs, have often wondered this? Surely employers don't just say, hey take the time off?

alemci Sat 06-Oct-12 20:00:40

well wear i live there are hence my response.

in the secondary school where i worked 2 years' agod there was an assigned medical lady in the medical room. perhaps different councils do things differently.

There were all the children with medical conditions on the wall. There were always kids in and out. tended to be the same ones.

i think it is quite an important place in a school.

alemci Sat 06-Oct-12 20:01:27

sorry awful spelling where.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Oct-12 20:07:30


There was a sick bay in my ds's secondary, where you went if you felt ill. There were regular attendees for specific problems too. However, you weren't nursed if sick, you waited there for your emergency contact to collect you. There was no way you stayed there being looked after, you went home asap if you were ill.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 20:13:29

Potato people with dependents are allowed to take unpaid dependents' leave to look after sick children and can take it for a day or two whilst sorting out alternative arrangements.

Practically speaking, what most tend to do is use annual leave to cover sick days as far as possible, splitting between parents if they can, working from home a bit when sick child is napping or has gone to bed, maybe getting grandparents who live 2-3 hours travel away up to help if it's a long term thing like chicken pox.

alemci Sat 06-Oct-12 20:15:24

yes of course but sick bay beats sitting outside in a corridor.

kids did get collected as should be the case but it was the first point of call and reassuring.

flow4 Sat 06-Oct-12 20:32:55

English, you must live in quite an urban area if you are able to say "I wouldn't choose to go more than a half hour drive from school for social reasons"...

From my own home, I am a 20 min drive away, which means I would be pushed to get there in half an hour, if I was in the shower say, or still had younger kids...

If I go to our nearest supermarket and am half way through a weekly shop, I am at least 40 minutes from school...

If I go to our nearest town, I am (just about) half an hour away if I am driving and traffic is OK; but I am 45-60 mins away from school if I am using public transport...

The nearest city is over an hour's drive from the school, in good traffic...

If I go to our local hospital for my physio appointment, I am 40 mins (in a car) or 90 mins if I have travelled by public transport...

Last week I went to visit a friend who had been transferred to the nearest specialist hospital unit - that was 90 mins drive from school...

The nearest maternity unit is over an hour's drive frm the school...

Several of my friends live three times as far from school or towns...

People who are saying "Of course parents should stay close" aren't thinking of the practicalities for those who live in more rural areas smile

Doctrine, with most employers (certainly local authorities, who are the biggest employers in most areas) dependents/parental leave is only allowed for serious things - broken limbs not vomiting, for example...

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Oct-12 20:45:55

I know what you mean as we used to live in rural area. I did not drive due to a disability and ds2 schooled 8 miles away and went by bus. Even as a sahm I couldn't have made it there within an hour. I did have good neighbours though and I used my common sense. I know dcs don't always show illness prior to school but if any of mine ever have I wouldn't have gone shopping, out with a friend etc. I would have stayed at home that day.

flow nope, I live in a tiny village with about 50 houses, a playground, no public transport except the school bus, no shop, no school, in the Bavarian countryside smile But the roads are clear unless you get stuck behind a tractor... the nearest village shop is 20 meters from school about 4km from our village, Aldi is about 8km away, or the same distance to a "nice" small supermarket (but in another small town/ big village) but 8km = 15 mins drive (and the school and Kindergarten are between our village and the small towns where the shops are).

If I want to speak English with another native speaker face to face it's a 25 minute drive - that's my limit on a school day, but really it has to be anyway as DD finishes school at 11.20am smile

I have one school child, one Kindergarten child (age just turned 5, would be reception in UK) and a toddler. I am quite good at getting out the door quickly with kids in tow (bad at lots of things esp. keeping the house sparkly with kids, good at getting babies/ toddlers/ kids generally out in a hurry - I keep most things in my car and re stock when used up).

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 20:48:10

Flow, even unpaid dependents leave?

Our nearest city is also an hour away - when we first moved here I was under the dreamy illusion I'd pop there on a regular basis - lived here 5 years, been in about 10 times... Never on a school day wink

I did used to work part time before my toddler was born, in yet another small town about 20 mins drive from home, but 15 mins from Kindergarten (no school kids then). I work eves now but DH is home with the kids.

adrastea Sat 06-Oct-12 20:54:57

I haven't read all 11 pages, but how bloody ridiculous.

The school is in loco parentis while your child is with them. They don't need an emergency contact within half an hour. They are the emergency contact.

morethanpotatoprints says ^ "After working as a TA and teacher I saw many a sick child who just wanted a relative, not me or another member of staff" ^ for me this is what it is really about, I wouldn't want my kids to sit miserably on a chair in the corridor waiting for me while they are still little (or at all, but especially when primary aged). Obviously nobody wants this and some people have no choice about how their life has to work, but my responses have primarily been about the OP's example of people off shopping or socialising, rather than single parents with no support network and no acceptable alternative option to a job an hour from the school...

adrastea Sat 06-Oct-12 20:59:14

How do people manage when their dcs are off school for several days and child minders won't take their sick dcs, have often wondered this? Surely employers don't just say, hey take the time off?
Well yes, they do, because they're legally obliged to give you the time off. They don't have to pay you for it, but of course you are entitled to look after a sick child.

See Time off for dependents
Parental leave

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 21:18:54

Sorry English, are you saying it's OK for a parent to work an hour away but not for a SAHP to visit a friend an hour away, have I got that right?

flow4 Sat 06-Oct-12 21:20:09

Doctrine, I was about to say 'yes' to you, but then I read adrastea's link (Time off for dependents). Well well well well WELL! smile
NEXT time I need time off for a poorly child, I won't feel guilty and I won't feel like I need to beg and plead... hmm Thanks, ad! grin

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 21:21:42

Oh yay, flow! I did think it was law so I wondered if we were talking at cross purposes somehow. Glad you've got some helpful ammunition.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Oct-12 21:29:10


If schools didn't have an emergency contact, how would they get in touch with parents?

Last year when my dd was still in school a playground accident just boys playing resulted in a brken nose and fractured leg. The other lad broken knee cap and head wound requiring stiches. The school did their duty and called ambulence etc. There was no free member of staff to accompany ambulance, parents were called and went directly to hospital. I am so glad that I could always be contacted and if not I had a stand by.
Loco parentis is indeed in place of the parents. Surely the fact that schools don't nurse sick dcs means this is the responsibility of the parents.
Of course some people can't just drop everything and be there immediately but surely somebody should be able to get there in reasonable time.

Thedoctrine it is OK by me to do whatever you want confused I am saying that while some people have no (real) choice but to be a long way from their child's school during the school day, and so consequently unable to get to them relatively promptly in case of illness, others do have a choice (to work nearer the school, to not travel a very long distance away for non-essential reasons such as shopping or socialising) could make that choice, but some make a different one.

Having been the child ill at school with un-contactable parents I won't do that to my own children unless I am in a position where it is unavoidable, and this affects my choice of whether and where to work, and whether and where to socialise whist my children are not with me, my husband or their paternal grandparents (those being the only people they'd be comfortable to be with for a moment longer than necessary whilst ill). Obviously if my husband or his parents (whom I trust) could be available to get to them within half an hour or so I'd be happy to go further, but they can't, so I am.

morethanpotato a 10 year old from my DD's school was taken by ambulance to hospital last year, without any adult she knew at all (fractured arm from falling off her chair of all the silly things, but it happens) - not saying its OK, but school has no admin staff on site and TAs don't exist here (abroad), there is just a teacher per class... so that's what happened as her parents were not able to get to the school quickly. She was fine with it apparently, it's all not the end of the world, just not great for the child involved, and they do remember...

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 21:43:51

Ok thanks for clarifying English.

I had to go to hospital once in my school career. If it had been on a Friday, my SAHM would have been food shopping in the next town along and wouldn't have heard for two hours or so until she got home. The risk of any one day being the day something happened to one of her DCs Wasn't enough to stop her food shopping and nor should it have been, IMO. Perhaps the people mentioned in the OP go off every day shopping or seeing friends - or perhaps it was just unlucky that the days coincided.

Doctrine I must say I was visualising day trips to Bluewater rather tahn the weekly groceries - who knows which was the case. In the 70s and 80s people had no choice but to be uncontactable for a couple of hours sometimes as you describe, but these days that is rarely the case even if you are at the shops...

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Oct-12 21:51:28


This was just as silly really, a comedy of errors. They were both going to head the ball, hence the head and broken nose injuries, they clashed heads. Boy one fainted at sight of blood straight down onto knee cap rest of body on top of boy 2 fracturing his leg.(Boy one, much bigger)
My point was parents were able to be contacted. How many parents would be up in arms if something serious happened and as they see it the school either didn't contact them or their dc were on their own in a hospital.
I think it is necessary for an emergency contact, in the absence of a parent it should be another suitable adult.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 21:53:47

YY sure that is true about phones. but even a one off trip to blue water could unluckily coincide with a sick DC.

I do think most parents are contactable (or have an alternate contact) within an hour, it's mostly the physical collection that may take more time.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 21:54:37

Potato a contact to talk to quickly about options or someone who can physically be there?

flow4 Sat 06-Oct-12 22:03:23

Except English, our local supermarket has been built in a dip between hills and I have no phone signal when I'm there! hmm

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Oct-12 22:07:14


I mean both really. However, a list of contacts would surely hold somebody who could quickly talk about options. I can't see any parent not wanting to make it to the hospital as soon as they could but may want a gp/ family friend to go in the meantime.
Its not impossible to find people to be contacts from school. I managed it and never lived within 250 miles of dcs gps when both me and dh worked. As I said up thread I am contact for several of dds friends from her old school. No I wouldn't want them all day but would collect from school until a parent arrived. In return we have free lifts to parties as I don't drive. I also cover bad weather closures as friends for dd to play with. A single parent I know is also emergency contact. Some schools in our area have a list of people requiring help and will match them with people offering help at the choice of the parent, obviously.

adrastea Sat 06-Oct-12 22:09:30

If schools didn't have an emergency contact, how would they get in touch with parents?
I meant an alternative (to the parents) emergency contact that was always within half an hour, which is what was suggested the schools might want.

Of course, the school needs to contact the parents in an emergency! But if they can't contact the parents immediately, or if the parents are more than an hour away, the school is has legal responsibility as if they were the parent for that child's well-being until the parents can get there.

That's annoying flow !

What it comes down to for me is that some things are unavoidable, for whatever reason, but the basic principle of being able to get to the school within half an hour where possible and not deliberately choosing to be a very long distance from school, when you are able to make the choice, seems eminently sensible and reasonable. Parents who say it is up to the school to look after their DC even if the DC are properly poorly are missing the point that this is really quite miserable for the DC, given the lack of facilities in real schools, in the real world, not an ideal one where they all have lovely cozy fully staffed sick bays and full time empathetic and caring school nurses...

IMO it is the job of parents to be sure somebody appropriate can be there for their child if at all possible, as soon as realistically possible rather than stand on the principle that the school can't tell them what to do with their time. The most important reason for this, aside from the fact school is just that - school, not an integrated education and all-round childcare/ nursing facility) is because it is the child left feeling miserable and ill wanting their parent/ well known, loved, trusted other caregiver.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Oct-12 22:19:56


Ditto, couldn't have phrased it better grin

Like morethan I have a friend/ neighbour who also has a DS in DD's class as an emergency contact for school - first me, then DH (who works a long way from school but could obviously make decisions / give permission for medication over the phone and and get in touch with other people by phone if for some reason I couldn't answer my phone), then DH's parents (who live an hour away but are retired and usually available) and then the friend who would be the one who would pick DD up if she missed the bus or the heating broke in winter or she had a minor ailment requiring her to be picked up from school, or something like that, and I was unable to do so promptly for some (hopefully unlikely) reason. I am the final contact for her son too, but less likely to be used as her son's grandparents live very locally. I think most people can find somebody like that, though not everyone of course, for various reasons...

nooka Sat 06-Oct-12 22:25:29

My dd often gets injured/sick at school (she has migraines). Generally speaking the first aider checks her over and then she goes to the medical room and lies down until she gets picked up. Teachers put their heads around the door every now and then. This is what I remember from school and is in any case pretty much what happens at home when she is sick.

Most times when children are sick at school it's not in a dramatic fashion, so I'm not sure why such a drama needs to be made about it. Most children are not sick very often - I can't remember the last time when ds got sick at school. It would seem daft to feel that for the seven years he was at primary school one of us should be tethered to a half hour travel distance from school. Yes perhaps on two or three occasions over those seven years he might have to wait for an hour or so for us to pick him up when he'd prefer to be home in bed, but I'm afraid we can and have decided that we can live with that possibility.

adrastea Sat 06-Oct-12 22:30:13

TheEnglishWomanInTheAttic I'm not missing that point, but there is literally no-one I know who could definitely always make it to my son's school within half-an-hour. My mum is the nearest and would take about 40 minutes from her work in an emergency if she was able to leave work immediately and made very good time. So the school is welcome to ask for an alternative emergency contact, but I don't have one to give them that will be within 30 minutes or less than an hour away.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Oct-12 22:34:19

YY nooka - 99 days out of 100, a child won't get sick.

adrastea in your case it just isn't possible... I guess all it comes down to is that the "must" in the original letter is of course ridiculous, but "where reasonably possible" is a sensible replacement. As I said choosing to be a very long way away from school for unnecessary reasons, when you have no alternative emergency contact with whom your DC would be happy to go home and be looked after when ill is very different from having no alternative.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 06-Oct-12 22:40:39


we too didn't have anybody but felt we had to find somebody for our own peace of mind. Your mum is a good contact and within an hour is better than many on here who think the school should look after their sick dc. Could you not approach a parent you trust. I know some contacts who are down for say mon, tues, others who can only cover friday. You can build it up like that. Maybe suggest your school holds a list. The schools I know who do this are governed by parents not the school, obviously for legal reasons. As long as its somebody you know and trust. If you can offer a day or even half a day in return for somebody else. The chances are you may never need them but its a relief to know they are there. Do you have a retired neighbour, sahm neighbour close you could ask?

adrastea Sat 06-Oct-12 23:13:28

Could you not approach a parent you trust.
The only parents I know well enough to ask all work themselves - and none within less than an hour, so no different to me.

If you can offer a day or even half a day in return for somebody else.
Er, but I work smile

If the school held a list, bear in mind my son is only in reception, then another random parent would be a complete stranger to my son and would be someone I didn't know.

Do you have a retired neighbour, sahm neighbour close you could ask?
Nope. I have a number of retired neighbours, but I don't know any of them nearly well enough to be OK with asking or with leaving my son with them and my son (who I have shared 50/50 custody with) certainly would be more distressed with someone he didn't.

foreverondiet Sat 06-Oct-12 23:20:32

We both work in central London. School in zone 4 - ie an hour away. When DS1 split his head open it took me an hour to get there - if he had needed to go to hospital urgently someone from school would have had to go - totally ridic. But they would also call my mother in law who might be able to get there quicker. YANBU but fair for school to ask for extra emergency contact who might be more local.

hatesponge Sat 06-Oct-12 23:21:31

I think it's a bit weird effectively befriending someone purely for the purpose of building up a bank of emergency contacts.

Schools would do better to divest themselves of the outdated notion that it's always possible to have a parent, grandparent, etc within immediate reach, and contingency plan. I'm sure sick children would be less distressed if they had a sick room to rest quietly in while waiting to be collected, than having to sit on a hard chair in the corridor with everyone walking past (what used to happen in my children's old school)

DayShiftDoris Sun 07-Oct-12 00:01:51

I worked 5 minutes drive away from my son's nursery yet when he vomited and they called I was the only trained member of staff on the department and was told I couldn't leave until I had cover.

It took a hour hmm

I could have left but I knew I'd have been in hot water at work and it seemed that he was actually ok, just had vomited.

That said - my son (now in juniors!) had a really difficult morning last week and I cancelled a shopping trip that would have taken me out of the area just in case.

Sounds to me that school have had an issue with this and are trying to resolve it

Murtette Sun 07-Oct-12 00:05:24

Toddler DD is at a private day nursery. When she started, I was asked to fill in a special emergency sheet which involved providing mine & DP's mobile numbers plus one other emergency contact number. The emergency contact number had to be a local phone code so they knew that that person could get to nursery within 20 mins. I was quite proud of the back up plan I cobbled together using various friends who'd gone back to work part time but was told that having a different emergency contact for each day was too complicated so they just took the first person despite the fact that, on the other two days, she will be at least an hour away. And they insisted on having my mobile number despite the fact that we have limited coverage at home so, on the day I work from home, the landline is the way to get hold of me. Sigh. Luckily the day DD cut her head open at nursery was the day I was working from home but was at the surgery waiting for an appt with the GP when my phone went so had reception.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 07-Oct-12 00:30:27

Maybe its an area thing. Parents round here are all friendly and don't find it weird at all. As parents are friendly so are dcs and as they mostly play together and have play dates, parties, attend clubs and activities together aren't strangers to one another.
I'd hate to live in a place that wasn't like this and it was considered weird to befriend people with a common interest. However, there are some parents I know who I wouldn't want as a contact but I wouldn't approach them or put name on their list.
I am so glad my dd is not at school missing out on an education because the people who are supposed to be teaching her are busy looking after somebody elses sick child, because they feel it weird to be friendly.

nooka Sun 07-Oct-12 00:41:08

It's not weird to be friendly, it's lovely. But it just isn't how many areas work any more. In areas with high turnover like London you often just don't get to know your neighbours. Everyone goes to work and then in their spare time they don't tend to socialise locally. Having friends that live an hour or so away is very normal, and many fewer people live close to family any more.

If you are a working parent you don't tend to get to know the parents of your children's school friends, because you don't meet them very often. Certainly not well enough to ask them to be an emergency contact as that's a fairly large favour IMO.

naughtymummy Sun 07-Oct-12 05:16:39

I do think it is a good idea to have someone able to get the school within an hour. When dh and I both were both working away, we chose to employ a nanny so that she could collect ds if necessary. Now we have made a positive decision not to work away on the same day.I do not think asking for a local contact is unreasonable. FWIW I am worrying about going to a freinds for lunch next week (approx 1hr 15 from school) on a day.when dh is also away

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 07-Oct-12 06:56:58

Potato it's not just cos it's weird to be friendly. Plenty of people who are SAHPs have a younger child at home. Would they really want to go and pick up a vomiting child and risk infecting their toddlers?

In my street there are two retired couples - one where the man is sick and looked after by his wife and one the other way round. Why would they risk catching D&V for the sake of people they know well enough to say hi to but not much more? The neighbours to whom we are closer, because we are a bit closer in age, surprise surprise, also work.

I do appreciate that it is a problem for schools but it still seems more efficient if the government would budget into school funding that there is a staff member with an allowance of hours to keep an eye on sick kids - there must be a way of estimating that in a school of 200, each child will have, say, 1 or 2 instances of needing to go home sick a year, so say 30-40% of one person's hours will be required for this. Observe the actual pattern over a year and adjust for local variations.

littleducks Sun 07-Oct-12 08:15:09

I just asked dd what happens to sick children at school, she says they sit in the welfare room with the 'welfare helpers' who also work in the photocopy room next door.

I have been in the welfare room and its reasonably comfy. I'm glad that the school has one, it is used for first aid if a child is hurt (conveniant to have first aid supplies and a sink in one place) and has a mini fridge and stuff to keep medication for children who need it in. (I think this is for long term medical needs, im pretty sure they dont take kids on antibiotics etc. in but have never asked)

Changebagsandgladrags Sun 07-Oct-12 08:50:33

Because we didn't get into our local school, even if I didn't work it would take me more than 30 mins to get there (don't drive).

adrastea Sun 07-Oct-12 09:09:11

morethanpotatoprints How would any child miss out on 'an education' in the situation where another sick child was fetched after 60 minutes rather 30, or where a seriously injured or unwell child had to be accompanied to hospital? It would never be your child's class teacher doing it, so how would your child miss any lesson time, much less a 'an education'? grin

nooka Exactly. I did know our neighbours, but for different reasons were all people who could't be named as a contact. My son goes to an after school club at the nursery where he's gone for several years. He knows everyone there, but if he was ill, they wouldn't be able to take him either. We do have someone who could fetch him after school or in the evening from after school club if neither his dad or I could get there by when they closed (that has happened once).

prettybird Sun 07-Oct-12 14:01:43

There are times when I wonder if this era of "contactability" is a good thing or not hmm

Outing myself as an oldie When I was young in the 60s blush not everyone had even a landline phone, even though there were lots of SAHMs and mobile phones didn't exist

So if a child was ill, the school would have either had to send someone to the house unlikely or cope.

My mum went to Uni as soon as my younger db went to school. She most definitely would not have been able to be contacted during the day - even if the school were to contact the Uni, she might not have been in a tutorial or lecture, as she could have been at the library or en route to or from Uni.

Funnily enough, we survived and received a good education grin

autumnlights12 Sun 07-Oct-12 14:41:56

things have improved since the good old days! I would much rather be contactable than not. I dread to think how much distress my three year old would have been in, had I not rushed straight to nursery when she split her chin open, passed out, and needed taking to hospital for stitches. It happened first thing in the morning and had I been unreachable, she'd have been driven there by a teacher she barely knew, and spent the next 6 hours sobbing in a corner on her own waiting for me.
Sometimes the 'good old days' weren't so good.

diddl Sun 07-Oct-12 14:55:18

Depends how far away you are, autumn-they might have sent someone to fetch you.

When I was ill once at primary school, a teacher took me home.

onceortwice Sun 07-Oct-12 15:02:54

I haven't read all the pages on this thread, so apologies if I've missed something, but I would say this is more and more prevalent. My DS has HFA so some (but not statemented) SN / additional needs. The only way I could get the school ALLOCATED to us to take my son was to gaurentee that I would always be 5 MINUTES of collecting him from school. As and when they needed me to.

His last day at school was Wednesday. I dropped him off at 8:58. They called me at 9:03 and when I didn't pick up that call, I got a text telling me to pick him up immediately. And that he would sit, alone, in reception until I got there. The text says he is ill, the VM I got does not, just that he didn't want to be at school.

He is supposed to go again tomorrow. I think we all know how that will go.

Trouble is, the schools are over subscribed and under funded.

If you think having a NT child in a state school is hard, try having one with non statemented SN.


morethanpotatoprints Sun 07-Oct-12 22:35:31


There are only teachers and TAs available in school if they are attending to a sick child, as some have voiced they should do, who do you suppose would be teaching the children?

Startailoforangeandgold Sun 07-Oct-12 22:57:06

I've just realised this is 100% barking as it means that half the families at the school must have two working cars AT all times!!???

Mines off to be serviced tomorrow. Primary (3miles) is ~ 40 mins walk at least, 20+ min on a bike. No way would a sick DD want to walk home.

No buses and the sort of rural area where I could be 30+ minutes on the phone finding a cab that's prepared to come out here.
Heaven knows how long one would take to get here.

Secondary school is 5+ miles and no way would I walk it or cycle it (very long hills).

Lots of the pupils live way further away still, especially the sixth formers, who's local schools are 11-16.

adrastea Sun 07-Oct-12 23:06:15

There are only teachers and TAs available in school
So no head teacher, deputy head, welfare officers, school secretaries, teachers with free periods and other staff then? smile

If a child has to be accompanied to hospital in a real emergency, who goes with them will be gone in all likelihood for a reasonable amount of time, regardless of whether parents take 10, 30 minutes or 60 minutes to reach hospital. God forbid this happens to a child in my son's class. Under those circumstances, given that the situation is probably extremely rare and traumatic for everyone, I don't think his entire education is going to be ruined for the sake of an hour or even half a day, even if it was his teacher who went with the child. I really wouldn't feel right begrudging that very small amount of time time while another child was being rushed into hospital.

How frequently does a child take ill in your child's class where you know the teacher has to care for that child that you think the half an hour difference between 30 minutes and 60 minutes would ruin her entire education?

morethanpotatoprints Mon 08-Oct-12 00:55:58


Having 3 dcs who attended 8 primary/secondary schools. Having worked in, and visited many others including nurseries, I have never known a member of staff whatever their position free to look after sick children. They are left in the reception area or corridor for collection.
If, as some have suggested "the school should cope", I would like to know who they intend to do this.
I have never known a welfare officer in any school, and the other people you mention have roles which don't include nurse maid.
I have never known a member of staff leave their post to accompany children to the hospital in an emergency, so as not to leave their post. Perhaps you see that as the role of the care taker, lol.

adrastea Mon 08-Oct-12 06:47:52

Well, we're not talking about nurseries which are totally different smile But anyway none of this answers the question I keep asking which is how could your child miss out on 'an education'?

alemci Mon 08-Oct-12 10:38:04

must be how different councils spend their budgets. where we are there are welfare/medical people with a medical room.

when i went to school in the 70s' there was a medical lady and room.

prettybird Mon 08-Oct-12 11:51:54

Ds had the misfortune to break his leg at his primary school shock (what really shocked us was the number of people who suggested to us that we should sue the school hmm). Initially they just thought he had turned his ankle but rang home after about half an hour as he was still crying "which was unlike him".

Until dh could get down to the school (I was 400 miles away) ds was left in the 1st Aid room. I thought that all schools had to have one - ds' primary school was bursting at the seams ( roll up from 200 to 300+ in the 7 years he was there) and every single inch of the place was used for teaching (over the years, the library, computer room and noisy/quiet room were all turned into classrooms) with only the head teacher having a small office and the admin staff (2 of them) sharing a small area outside her office. The depute head didn't even have an office. Indeed, on occasion, if she needed to talk to you privately, you would be ushered into the first aid room.

He's just started at secondary school: last week he had his first "school" rugby game. At it, one of his friends had a freak accident, with a whole rugby stud making a hole in his calf (amazingly, missing all blood vessels so there was no bleeding) and an ambulance had to be called as we didn't want to move him (dh and I had gone to watch ds as he was playing at our own local rugby club). Kid's mum was on her way home from work but if she hadn't managed to get to the club in time, one of the teachers was fully prepared to go in the ambulance as the "responsible adult". No sense of irritation at the parent, just an acceptance of responsibility that she was the one that was there.

I wonder if part of it is developing a sense of partnership with the school - something we've been fortunate to experience at ds' primary school and are in the process of developing at the secondary - and which I don't get the impression the the head teacher in the OP has developed (you don't talk AT parents, you talk WITH them).

VivaLeBeaver Mon 08-Oct-12 15:05:56

At dd's old primary school there was no head, deputy head, secretary, welfare office, etc for 99% of the time.

Head worked two days a week, no deputy, secretary worked a couple of hours most mornings. Rest of the time just three teachers and a couple of TAs so I don't think staff would accompany them to hospital. In fact on a residential school trip where they did have to take a kid to hospital they had to leave all the other kids with teachers from another school who they'd not met before as their policy says two teachers had to go to hospital and there were only two of them there.

nooka Mon 08-Oct-12 18:55:43

Goodness that sounds like poor planning there I would have expected that all trips require a risk assessment and that emergency planning would have been a part of it. Although perhaps that was the plan as the children were supervised. I just hope that was a mutual arrangement made n advance rather than ad hoc.

I do think that there is a difference between accidents and illness. If a child has a serious accident during the time they are in the school's care then the school has a duty to respond appropriately. They cannot just wait for a parent to return to manage the situation and hope that it is within a reasonable period of time.

For illnesses I can't really see that there is a huge difference between waiting half an hour or an hour. In both cases it's unfortunate and I'm sure everyone would rather the child was not unwell or had not been sent to school that day.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 09-Oct-12 14:43:23


A child would miss out on an education if their teacher/ T.A spent their time "coping with ill children", instead of teaching. There are people on this thread who believe it is the job of somebody within the school to look after ill dcs. Many schools do not have the staff you suggested in your post above. Sometimes there have been several children in school sick on the same day, it does tend to spread.

adrastea Tue 09-Oct-12 15:09:05

There are people on this thread who believe it is the job of somebody within the school to look after ill dcs.
Nobody thinks that. What people think is that it is the school's job to look after a child who takes ill or as ill at school until a parent or someone suitable is able to get there - which it is. Legally and morally.

Your statement that your child will miss out 'an education' if all children at a school didn't have emergency contacts always nearer than 30 minutes (which is what is being discussed) is a ridiculous exaggeration. There will always be children taken ill at school, so what is being discussed is that in some cases the situation that already happens at your child's school would be slightly extended.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 09-Oct-12 18:22:25

I think any extension to teachers having to leave a class to "cope" with a sick child would be too much for me. I may be old fashioned but I believe teachers are there to educate.
The dcs miss so much teaching due to many other activities and at present equates to aprox an hour and a half work per day.
I'm so glad we are not part of this system.

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