School wants GP sick note for any further absence!

(128 Posts)
RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 20:51:45

DS off school for 4 days, then additional 1 day following week. Called on each day of illness to report and sent email to office and teacher when he returned explaining illness and confirming dates.

He is not a sickly child so rare for him to be off school. In 6 years aside from this period of illness we can only remember 1 other week long period for chickenpox.

Scroll foward 2 weeks - just had letter from Education Welfare Officer stating that "any further days of sickness must be supported by GP letter!" and "if your [DS] continues to have days off sick we wil refer him to th school nurse who will contact your GP to determine if there are any underlying issues/problems".

We are fumiing!! (Well I am, DH just thinks "schools are agencies of the state whose sole function is to train children to conform in the future and this is par for the course").

I think this is a ridiculous over reaction and that GP's have better things to do than authorise childhood illness in children who for the most part attend school.

Aside from the difficulties in actually getting a GP's appointment in the first place....

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 20:54:17

And, what School Nurse?????

Do maintained Primaries still have them 'cause I haven't seen one in 6 years.

learnandsay Wed 05-Dec-12 20:55:23

I think this is an automatic management system to catch out parents who are taking their children on holiday but are claiming that they're sick. It's unfortunate on parents of genuinely sick children who may be upset that they're not being believed.

DorsetKnobwithJingleBellsOn Wed 05-Dec-12 20:57:35

Primaries still have school nurses, we were referred to ours about something which DD is seeing a Pediatrician about and she wanted to refer us to parenting classes, we backed away slowly.

Very over the top IMHO, DD also has had 3 weeks off this year in one swoop, but school very understanding and we haven't been referred to EWO, so YADNBU to be fuming.

MsElleTow Wed 05-Dec-12 20:57:41

shock. I would tell them to get stuffed! Would a GP do that without charging you? And could you actually get an appointment on the day? It's bloody ridiculous!

I have 2DC, who both have chronic conditions, so we got their Consutlants and our GP to write a letter to the EWO to explain why they needed time off school. They were having more time off than your DS though!

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 05-Dec-12 20:59:18

It's the rules, isn't it?

I wouldn't bother with going to the GP unless it actually warranted an appointment. I don't think GPs will be particularly happy about being asked to doll out sick notes for children who dont need an appointment. I would include the information that ds's illness didn't warrant an GP appointment/not wanting to spread illness around/couldn't get an appointment with the info that I sent the school after each day off.

Hopefully, your son won't have any further time off sick.

stella1w Wed 05-Dec-12 21:00:25

I think most gps won,t give notes to adults who havebeen ill less than five days, you have to selfcertify so school shd not be demanding more. Why shd u take a sick child to gp unnecessarily? Flu, d and v etc. Wasting gp resources.

bamboostalks Wed 05-Dec-12 21:00:27

The school might be missing their la absence targets so have a tight protocol. Probably nowt to do with them directly.

mrz Wed 05-Dec-12 21:01:18

Yes all schools have a "school nurse" although she/he is normally based centrally and will cover a number of schools.

We only ask for doctor's certificates for pupils who are frequently absent

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 21:03:44

Our school has imposed fines for those very instances learnandsay

It is the tone of the letter that really pisses me off. I know that we are mere statistics and these sorts of letters are triggered automatically, but it is not beyond the wit of schools to look behind the headline stats and see the people behind them. They could then use their judgement (gosh, remember that) and consider whether this wording is appropriate in this case.

learnandsay Wed 05-Dec-12 21:04:39

Well, if that's the case, bamboo, then they need to get the nurse on the case straight away, never mind insinuating that the parents are liars and should waste gp time proving that what they said was the case actually was the case in the first place. If the school is missing its targets that's the school's problem not the parents'.

ihearsounds Wed 05-Dec-12 21:05:15

Our school nurse logs into the pct and checks if appointments have been made etc. Was a bit shock at first, but then noticed that generally things like this from the parents view point aren't checked and an easy sickie.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 05-Dec-12 21:06:00

I'd tell them to get stuffed, really would.

So if you have a child with d&v or a temp they expect you to take the poorly kid out to see the dr just for a sick note? The dr will likely charge you. It's a waste of Nhs resources, that's not what they're there for.

Plus what if you are unable to take them to the dr? When dd was young if she was poorly she was bundled over to my mums at the crack of dawn so I could go to work. My mum is 15 miles away and wouldn't be driving back to my dr with a vomity kid just to appease the school.

lisad123 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:06:04

Sounds like standard letter tbh. It's because it's first term, so over 10 weeks, a whole week off, takes him lower % than average they have to meet.
I wouldn't panic, or care tbh. It will even out over the year and his % attendance will go up.

3b1g Wed 05-Dec-12 21:09:56

This sounds like a generic letter that goes out automatically after five days of illness absence to remind parents / carers that a letter from the GP is required for illness that lasts longer than a week. It might even be a council-led thing. Of course, the staff in the school office could over-ride the system with common sense.

Catree Wed 05-Dec-12 21:10:55

He's a child! Children get sick!

Unless it was an automated referral, which the school had no control over, then they were being very unfair to you. It's not like you regularly took a week off without informing them.

I also agree, what chance would you have of actually seeing the GP on the same day to get a sick note?! I think my GP would be pissed off I was there wasting his precious time!

ohfunnyface Wed 05-Dec-12 21:11:01

What is his % attendance? Is it on the letter? I believed only absence that is <70% triggered those type of letters- possibly admin error?

lisad123 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:12:36

I think each school has different % levels

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 21:14:40

mrz thanks for the nurse clarification - had visions of the 'nit nurse' from my school days!

Completely understand possibly requesting them for frequent absence but as my DS is not frequently absent this should not apply. The 4 100% Attendance Certificates he has had would attest to that!

Incidentally I always thought sick notes were for workers to give to employers after self certification period ends, not parents to give to school.

I have absolutely no intention of going to the GP for a note in the rare event that my son is sick again. I will go to the GP if he requires treatment but not just to satisfy a dubious school requirement.

I have written to school abou this, in my capacity as a Governor on the general principle, and in the capacity of a pissed off parent!

BerthaTheBogBurglar Wed 05-Dec-12 21:15:41

I'd be tempted to take it at face value and write a letter back to the Welfare Officer explaining that your GP has instructed you not to make appointments for minor viral illnesses, and so you won't be able to provide a note. Therefore, would they prefer your son to be off sick without a GP's note, or for him to come into school while ill? Say you need an answer quickly as there is a vomiting bug going around and if he gets it, you'll need to know whether to send him into school or not.

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 21:19:19

offunnyface His attendance last year was 100%.

His attendance so far this term is 100% less the 5 days off sick (sorry can't recall off top of my head how many days in the term and still a few weeks to go so cannot give accurate %)

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 21:20:58

Thanks Bertha - may use that word for word on my next letter to school as I fear this will run and run!

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 21:21:57

Thanks everyone for your responses - really appreciate them

MaryPoppinsBag Wed 05-Dec-12 21:25:02

We got a snotty letter the other week.
My DS's attendance dropped to 86% which is apparently not in line with expected attendance of a Primary School Pupil.

However, his attendance % is directly in line with a Primary School Pupil who gets sent home with a sickness bug on a Tuesday and then has the squits until the weekend.
And then 3 weeks later gets Scarlet Fever!

We were a bit angry.
And wondered whatever happened to discretion - they know why he was off! No need IMO for a letter.
Not bothered responding, although I do feel like asking if they doubt me?

Raisinboys I get where you are coming from!

NonnoMum Wed 05-Dec-12 21:29:16

Write back to them and say, "oooh. lovely, it would be wonderful to have an appointment with the school nurse as it might help get us to be a higher priority at the GPs surgery. Does she do home visits? Thanks for your concern regarding our poorly child."

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 21:36:02

I'm with you MaryPoppinsBag

Hope your DS's better!

Great NonnoMum Will use that too!

ohfunnyface Wed 05-Dec-12 21:43:10

Sounds like an admin error- I really wouldn't worry.

Rudolphstolemycarrots Wed 05-Dec-12 22:27:03

I'd write and say that you will inform them next time kid is ill. Explain you are happy to get a note as long as long as they book the GP appointment, take your son and then pay for the note. Otherwise they will just have to take your word for the illness.

Rudolphstolemycarrots Wed 05-Dec-12 22:27:41

What a waste of GP's time!

Jakadaal Wed 05-Dec-12 22:36:32

A GP will not issue a sick note as this is for statutory sickness pay but they will issue a private note confirming illness (or what you have said is the matter). However they could possibly charge you (it used to be about £10) as this is outside of their NHS contract. I would write to the school, LA, WO etc and suggest that you will happily get a note if they are prepared to pay for it hmm

Haggisfish Wed 05-Dec-12 22:36:43

But it's not from the school - it's from the EWO, who is employed by the council. School will have had to send details of absences to them, and it is the EWO you need to be harassing, not school.

marriedinwhite Wed 05-Dec-12 22:42:03

Dear Office

Thank you for the letter about our child's recent absences. As you are already aware from the infomation already provided they were for: [ ].

As you should also be aware a medical certificate is not usually provided by a GP or statutorily required before the 8th day of sickness. If you require a certificate for shorter absences please confirm that you will be happy to reimburse me for any charge levied by the GP and also if our child has a minor illness that means an absence of only one or two days that you will be happy for our child to be absent for longer than this if the GP is unable to see him or her for three to four days to provide the requisite medical certificate. I am sure you are aware this is the norm in may GP practices. Further if I have to take additional time off work that you will prepared to reimburse me or my husband for any loss of earnings.

I shall be delighted to discuss these issues with the school nurse or the head teacher if you will be so kind as to telephone me to make a mutually convenient appointment. If I am able to see the head I shall also appreciate using the meeting as an opportunity to receive a full progress report about my child's academic achievements this term and am sure it will be no problem for the head to liaise with all the teachers involved in my son's learning.

with best wishes.

Raisinboys mum.

How better to Eff off nicely.

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 22:49:01

Haggishfish The EWO in our case is employed directly by four schools (in a soft-partnership) not by the LA.

The letter comes from the EWO on school headed paper with the school office and headteacher being the only contact details supplied.

In this hassling the school is entirely appropriate.

whistlestopcafe Wed 05-Dec-12 22:56:16

I had a similar letter a few years ago. I don't buy the standard letter excuse. At work I review the individual circumstances of each case and send out appropriate correspondence I don't see why Education Authorities should be exempt from common sense and professionalism.

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 23:03:57

Thanks all.

Love your letter married

RaisinBoys Wed 05-Dec-12 23:05:06

Could not agree more whistlestopcafe

drjohnsonscat Wed 05-Dec-12 23:22:17

love your letter married.

DD6 gets very red chapped skin around her lips when it's cold so I gave her a chapstick and told her to put it on every time she went out to play. The school told me I needed a dr's note in order for her to have it at school shock

I told DD that although her teacher was always right, on this occasion she should just hide the chapstick in her pocket and put it on in the toilet.

christinecagney Fri 07-Dec-12 00:04:42

Whistlestop not all LAs will allow their schools discretion or to use their knowledge of individual circumstances. Mine does, so I can judge whether or not to send a letter (which incidentally is never my first approach, will have had conversations with family first), but not all HTs do get to choose. We hate it too,
Causes endless upset.

Had to send myself one once. DS came to my school and had been off on holiday with his dad making his attendance low. At the time I was in a no-discretion school so had to write to myself about it. I put the letter in the bin needless to say.

christinecagney Fri 07-Dec-12 00:09:25

BTW I think if the EWO is employed by the schools the letter might be quite ignorable. Not sure what recourse 4 schools in a soft partnership would really have to enforce their demands. They won't want to go a legal route as its way too expensive, IMHO.

cory Fri 07-Dec-12 08:29:42

mrz Wed 05-Dec-12 21:01:18

"We only ask for doctor's certificates for pupils who are frequently absent"

How do you manage if parents are not well off and the child is one of those children who get every flu bug going? I have just paid £20 for a sick note for dd: if I'd had to do that when she was younger and constantly catching things and when we were on a low income, it would have made life very difficult. What do you do if the family say they haven't got the money?

MoaningMingeWhimpersAgain Fri 07-Dec-12 10:45:03

DD has just had 6 school days off with D and V, because I waited until she was symptom free for 48 hrs before sending her back. I would not be providing a GP note as she didn't need to see the GP for viral D and V. And I would put that in a letter if they wrote to me.

However, the school knows there are a lot of contagious bugs around at the moment and I suspect they know I am honest grin Try not to take the letters too personally, really.

school scan override the automatic triggering - last years DDs attendance was 60%, and the school told me that they would liaise with the EWO about her case. They said I may get an initial letter, but just to ignore it, as it might take a couple of weeks to get the systems updated.

So for anyone who has DC with ongoing conditions, it's certainly possible. Taking a D&V-ey DC to the GP for a sick note is just ridiculous though.

RaisinBoys Fri 07-Dec-12 18:15:40

Thanks for that info christinecagney

Thanks everyone - really helpful to get your views

rotavirusrita Fri 07-Dec-12 18:22:37

Send the letter above. Honestly. I might even be tempted to cc in your gps practice manager. Gps have enough to be doing instead of this shit

RaisinBoys Fri 07-Dec-12 18:44:55

Couldn't agree more rota

marquesas Fri 07-Dec-12 18:57:06

Your child obviously doesn't have long left at primary school if he's already been there for 6 years but really I wouldn't advise sending the suggested letter unless you want to be forever known as the arsey over reacting parent.

Yes. it's really annoying but I think ignoring is the way to go here, rise above and let them follow it up if they feel strongly enough, I don't suppose they will unless there is any further absence.

RaisinBoys Fri 07-Dec-12 19:39:35

Can't see anything wrong in the being arsey and overreacting sometimes especially where institutions are concerned.

It's very cathartic!

marquesas Fri 07-Dec-12 20:05:11

Yes, it can be cathartic and I do it myself on occasion grin but I wouldn't do it to my childrens school as it wouldn't be fair to them if there were repercussions.

radicalsubstitution Fri 07-Dec-12 21:10:04

When schools (or other institutions) get arsey, they deserve an equally arsey response.

I would write:

'I am happy to pay for a GP letter. Please, however, deduct the cost from anything that you would like me to voluntarily contribute towards the school. I will therefore consider myself exempt from receiving 'summer fair' raffle tickets in my DC's book bag for 4 years for each letter I am required to provide'.

Schools rely on the goodwill of parents in so many ways. I think some (not all) take the piss.

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 21:17:09
ivykaty44 Fri 07-Dec-12 21:17:49

I would firstly ask your gp recpetionist for the price of a sick letter (a gp will charge for this and it doesn't come under the NHS) - as this is something that will have to be done privately and then let the Education department and school know that this will be the cost and that they will have to pay for the letter.

Secondly point out that data protection does apply to children and that they will not be having your permission to talk to your dc gp about his medical problems and they will have to gain your permission before they are allowed to talk to your gp about your dc illness, as these laws apply to them as well as the rest of the population hmm

ivykaty44 Fri 07-Dec-12 21:21:59

Oh and lastly
In this country we are still innocent until proved guilty. So if the school want to prove that you are not telling the truth them tell them they are welcome to but it is not up to you to provide evidence that you are telling the truth - you are telling the truth - big full stop.

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 21:31:29

but remember a doctor's certificate is cheaper than a fine ...

radicalsubstitution Fri 07-Dec-12 21:32:22

The hypocrisy of this government never fails to amuse me.

They came into power saying they believed in 'gentle nudge' rather than 'nanny state' and are now doing - and promoting - the exact opposite.

We all know the links between attendance and attainment. All of us who work in the classroom and in schools on a regular basis know who the worst offenders are. They are not the children who go on a holiday once a year that means they will be off school for one or two days either side of the school holidays. They are not the children who suffer from shingles or whooping cough once in their school career but need 11 days of school to recuperate properly.

The worst offenders are those who have a day off a fortnight for 'cold' or 'sore throat' or, worse still 'not well'.

I totally agree that good attendance is really important (DS missed one day in reception and that was a medical excusion for having the squits in aftercare and that's it). However, I think things have gone totally overboard.

ivykaty44 Fri 07-Dec-12 21:41:09

cheaper than a fine - a fine for what?

TBH I think this whole business needs someone to refuse to pay the fine and get the school to take them to court and prove that the child was not sick and not fit to be in school.

As the whole process is built on fear and scaring parents rather than facts and law

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 21:42:12

You mean like that mum who was jailed ivykaty?

I thought you had to have really low attendance for these threats.

In infants dd had between 95% and 100%

In year 3 we had a lot of issues and she had around 80% which is rubbish but valid reasons.

Last year she had 88% out of a possible 95% (school move)

This year she's had two half days (funeral/consultant)

I've never had a letter about it.

I can think of several children who have missed 2/3 weeks already this term.

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 21:45:10

"The Government has accepted this recommendation and from September 2012, headteachers will be able to impose a fine of £60 (a £10 increase) on parents whom they consider are allowing their child to miss too much school without a valid reason. If they fail to pay within 28 days it will double to £120 (a £20 increase), to be paid within 42 days."
the quote is from my previous link ivykaty

I also remember the off every Friday brigade when I worked in schools.

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 21:47:22

The government reduced the percentage of time a child can be absent before a school should take action ...

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 21:48:56

Whistlingwaves we have a pupil who has only attended 8 days this year (and one was a school trip) hmm

8 days??! What do they do about it?

What's the earlier cut off now before they step in.

radicalsubstitution Fri 07-Dec-12 21:56:16

90% in our LEA.

8 days must be about 11%? That's low!

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 21:57:03

It was 20% absence now it is 15%

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Fri 07-Dec-12 21:59:40

OP - I think your school is being a bit OTT in your case and yes, they can and should consider each case individually. We accept an appointment card or sight of a prescription (or prescribed meds) as evidence initially.

That said the law does allow for fines for not ensuring regular attendance at school. Non payment of fine will mean an increased fine and possible suspended sentence or imprisonment for repeat offenders. Anything below 85% is considered persistent absence.

ivykaty44 Fri 07-Dec-12 22:00:38

so a head teacher can act as judge and jury and decide that one day or 3 days is to many and the parents need to be fined or another head teacher may decide 5 days or 6 days is to many. Then if they don't pay the fine within a set time frame the fine doubles.

Is this actually lawful?

I think I would say no I am not paying the fine take me to court.

The fact that the fine will double if not paid will stop many parents letting the time elapse and stating to the school that they want to be taken to court and a real judge deciding whether there child was sick and couldn't attend school.

cory Fri 07-Dec-12 22:01:29

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 21:31:29
"but remember a doctor's certificate is cheaper than a fine ... "

One doctor's certificate, yes, but if you have a child like mine who is off sick every few weeks, then it adds up very quickly. Fortunately, dd's school has now agreed not to ask for individual medical certificates for "the usual" (meaning her two underlying conditions), but only for the extra illnesses dd also attracts because her underlying conditions lower her immune system. The latest £20 was for a kidney infection that laid her low for over 3 weeks and required 4 courses of antiobiotics. She hadn't been able to go back to school in between her relapses: otherwise, 4 medical letters would have been required - that is half our monthly food budget.

And it's no use saying a fine would be more expensive- that doesn't help us. Having a child with frequent health problems is a very heavy drain on your finances. Luckily dh and I are not on minimum wage- but if we were, dd wouldn't automatically get cured.

ivykaty44 Fri 07-Dec-12 22:03:12

mrz - was the mum jailed for her child being ill and kept home from school?

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 22:04:01

cory I think most schools are aware of the children who have conditions that may cause frequent absences ...or they should be.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Fri 07-Dec-12 22:09:25

Ivykaty- what usually happens is that once you hit the 85% you get a penalty warning notice which says no time off in the next 20 days without medical evidence. If you have time off with no proof you are issued with a fine. Your local authority will have a written policy setting out their timescales.

The legislation is section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 22:11:31

She was jailed for failing to pay the fine issued for non attendance ivykate ...

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Fri 07-Dec-12 22:14:21

cory - it's about time they stopped hassling you re dd and made a case for excluding her from their data.

ivykaty44 Fri 07-Dec-12 22:34:19

mr - so the judge found her guilty or was it for not paying the fine she was jailed?

The bit I am not getting is the fact that the no proof, with a parking fine there will be proof that the car was parked - photos etc, so the council has proof. But with this system the child is ill so not sent to school, the child has more illness so can't attend school and then the mother is fined for not sending a sick child to school and they put her in prison for not paying a fine - which I take it in the case of the mother who was sent to jail the child was sick but the mother didn't pay the fine.

I guess it is the point that if you stand in the dock and say my child was sick - you don't need proof as you are in the dock and therefore telling the truth/ But a school is asking for proof that you are telling the truth so saying you are not telling the truth unless you prove it - which is not surely wrong.

So there is no appeal with this - either you have to prove you are not lying, or face a fine. But either way you have to pay money either in the evidence you are not lying or a fine

mrz Fri 07-Dec-12 22:42:55

Do you honestly believe a judge will accept your word in court without proof?

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Fri 07-Dec-12 22:53:48

The offence is 'failure to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil'.

The LA provide evidence of non-attendance in the form of the registers, the parent has to counter that with proof that the child was ill ie medical evidence. IME if you engage with the school/Education Welfare then it doesn't come to fine/imprisonment. You are warned so if the child has valid absence in the warning period and you provide evidence it won't progress to court.

littleducks Fri 07-Dec-12 23:43:57

I'm most shocked that the school nurse is logging into computer systems to check if children have been ill and seen their GP. That is not what the computer system was supposed to be used for.

DingDongKethryverilyonHigh Fri 07-Dec-12 23:52:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cory Sat 08-Dec-12 00:03:19

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Fri 07-Dec-12 22:14:21
"cory - it's about time they stopped hassling you re dd and made a case for excluding her from their data."

They aren't actually hassling, Dame, they are lovely and supportive (unlike her previous school), but they do have to have something to show to Ofsted in the case of an illness that falls outside dd's usual conditions. The problem is, if you have a chronic condition, you are quite likely to be generally weakened and so catch a lot of other things too. Or take a long time to recover. As with this UTI, which took 4 weeks to clear.

Being aware is all very well, but they also need to satisfy the EWO and Ofsted, so they need the evidence- and that, unfortunately, is getting very expensive these days.

As far as I'm concerned, it's just part of the general shit that comes with having a sickly child. But I really don't think I could have coped if we had had to do this on the minimum wage: it's just extra expenses every time you turn round.

RaisinBoys Sat 08-Dec-12 15:14:21

Just checking back!

Mrz you keep posting stuff about persistent absence, poor attendance, parents not ensuring regular attendance, etc.

My DS is Y5. This is his 6th year at the same primary school. He has had 12 days sickness in that time (5 days chickenpox, 5 days with fever, severe headache and a bloody rotten cold, 2 days D&V). That is it!

He is not persistently absent. He has attended school on every day that he is well enough to. We have never been fined for absence. We do not take holidays in term time (although we know many who do).

It seems to me that schools home in on the easy cases, people like us, instead of concentrating resources on tackling the persistent offenders.

We all know there are children that attend only when the parents can be bothered, those who take days off at will, those who miss every Friday or every Monday.

That is not us! I would expect a bit of latitude as we support the school; get our son in on time, make sure our son does his homework, attend parents' evenings, take in junk for model making, make costumes for plays at 5 minutes notice, help with PTA, support plays, concerts and assemblies, stand for and elected as parent governor, bake cakes, volunteer to help at class trips, etc etc.

Schools cannot expect all this and then treat parents with contempt, whether it's "procedure" or not.

RaisinBoys Sat 08-Dec-12 15:19:10

Interesting to read all comments.

ivykaty44 Thanks for the data protection info. Had just asked an ex-colleague who now works at the Information Commissioner's Office to find out as I had a feeling that this was probably unlawful

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 15:35:06

Then you've missed the point RaisinBoys (and the link to the government policy) the law says if a child's attendance falls below the level dictated by law schools must demonstrate they are taking action. They can't pick and choose. Much as I'm sure the school would like to say RaisinBoys son is never absent ...that wouldn't be acceptable to inspectors.

RaisinBoys Sat 08-Dec-12 15:52:23

Yes, clearly I've missed the point Mrz because, silly me, I thought schools had the best interest of the child at heart, not the best interest of the inspector.

I read your link (again, as I've already read it in my capacity as a governor) and none if it applies in our case as

1) my DS is not in Nursery or Reception
2) my DS does not have a "pattern of absence"
3) my son's absence has been over 95% in all his years at school, so he has never reached the threshold quoted for persistent absenteeism (missing 15% or more of school in a given year)
4) we have never been fined for asbesnteeism
5) we have never taken a term time holiday

RaisinBoys Sat 08-Dec-12 15:53:54


Obviously tha should say "my son's attendance has been over 95%"

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 16:15:16

and obviously because your son's attendance this year is currently below 90% the school is pointing out that if he is off again they will need a doctor's certificate (because as you read 85% is now the cut off whether you are in nursery, reception, have a pattern of absence ...) no one is saying it's right or fair just that is how the law stands since Sept.

RaisinBoys Sat 08-Dec-12 16:25:14

No it's not.

My DS's attendance so far this year is 92.1875 and if he completes the final two weeks of term illness free his attendance so far this year will be 93.24%.

If he then follows his pattern of great attendance he will be well over the LA requirement of 95% attendance for the full year.

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 16:32:01

Obviously your son's school started the term earlier than the one where I teach because 5 days absence would equate to 12.5% here

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 16:33:15

and if he continues his pattern of great attendance you won't be asked to produce the doctor's certificate will you.

catkind Sat 08-Dec-12 17:07:18

I think I'd politely invite them to consider the practicalities of their suggestion. Say child vomits at 7.30pm on a Sunday. Are you to take him to the doctors on the Monday? What evidence would the doctor have to show he'd thrown up even if you did? My doctors' wouldn't give an appointment anyway, they triage urgent appointments on the phone, and anything else would be a 2 week or so wait.
And assure them that there are no underlying issues as problem was xxx and required no GP involvement.
Perhaps they would like to consider other evidence of illness. Timestamped photograph of child with pool of vomit? Sample in a jar? Invite school nurse to visit you at home and wait in with child to see if they throw up again? wink

RaisinBoys Sat 08-Dec-12 17:27:48

Yes obviously his term must be longer Mrz - maintained primary, they keep them at school for ages!

Do you know what, they can ask away - they won't get.

If our son is ill we, his parents, will decide if it requires a GP appointment. Sick notes' are intended for workers to produce to employers after the 7th day of self cerification. They are not intended for children to be able to prove to schools that they are actually ill. And what GP will countenance taking a feverish, vomiting child to the surgery in order to get a note. It's nonsensical.

If a parent is going to lie about their child's illness to school, they are just as likely to lie to a GP - unless as catkind says, you take in a bag of fresh vomit too.

We certainly won't be wasting precious GP appointments on this nonsense.

If they want to fine us, so be it.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 08-Dec-12 18:17:56

I'm glad they're supportive cory. dd has a chronic condition and has had a shocking attendance record. I think her college were the least supportive throughout. But at least it gives me a bit more sympathy when I'm dealing with parents of ill children and an insight into what it's like on the other end of the letter.

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 18:24:31

I teach in a maintained primary RaisinBoys hmm

radicalsubstitution Sat 08-Dec-12 19:32:14

So far this academic year we have been in school for 13 weeks. Taking off 2 training days and one pointless wast of time police commissioner election day (school is a polling station), pupils should have been in school for 63 days by my reckoning. It will be 72 by the end of term.

5 days' absence would equate to quite a bit less than 10%. Then again, our LEA (supposedly) instructs head teachers to write to parents if attendance falls below 95%. I've no idea how this works in practice. It would imply that the parents of any child who has a day off in the first four weeks of term will receive a warning letter. Of course, head teachers (and office staff) have nothing better to do with their time or stationary budgets....

They don't, on the other hand, expect parents to provide letters from GPs.

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 19:38:12

In most schools the letters would be generated by the EWO centrally with LEA data not by the school.

radicalsubstitution Sat 08-Dec-12 19:56:03

EWO intervention after monitoring of registers and referral by headteachers wouldn't take place until absence was significantly higher than 5%. However, our LEA advises headteachers to and supports them in sending letters when absence drops below 95%. These letters are sent by the school.

Like so much else to do with our LEA's attndance policy, it is rather vaguely worded and open to interpretation. It makes the whole system extremely inconsistent and can be viewed as unfair - particularly when penalty notices are being issued in some schools and not others for exactly the same absence.

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 20:00:04

Our EWO contacts us with a list of concerns raised by the LEA from submitted registration figures, although we do contact her for persistent non attendance. She contacts parents not the school.

radicalsubstitution Sat 08-Dec-12 20:06:19

Our LEA is absolutely tiny. I think there have been some 'personnel' issues regarding recruitemnt, retention and attendance (how ironic) of EWO, so the policy is probably pretty vaguely wrriten to allow schools to deal with the issues themselves before needing EWO involvement.

I won't reveal the name of the LEA on here, as the most minor detective work would then reveal my identity based on things I have posted about myself and my school.

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 20:20:08

I think EWO retention is an issue in many LEAs certainly is in mine

ivykaty44 Sat 08-Dec-12 21:01:10

Do you honestly believe a judge will accept your word in court without proof?

Since when in the UK are you deemed to be lying if you have taken an oath to tell the truth the whole truth etc. You are innocent until proved guilty and not the other way around. You do not have to go to court and prove your innocents that is why you have the choice not to take the stand or not and the choice to remain silent -whether you agree or not that is the system.

so the judge found her guilty or was it for not paying the fine she was jailed?

mr could you answer the question though or not?

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 21:16:30
ivykaty44 Sat 08-Dec-12 21:19:16

No the case you mentioned in this thread, was the woman jailed for her dc being ill and kept of school or for not paying the fine?

ivykaty44 Sat 08-Dec-12 21:20:52

Fri 07-Dec-12 21:42:12
You mean like that mum who was jailed ivykaty?

that mum,

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 21:23:16

Where did I say the child was ill ivykate?

ivykaty44 Sat 08-Dec-12 21:35:41

mrThat is what the thread is about, children being of school ill and schools demanding a sick note from the gp and it costing 20 quid or if you don't provide a sick note from gp getting a fine.

So no you didn't say the child was sick but that is what the whole thread is about, How are you going to get a sick note from the gp though if the child isn't sick, it was you that said a sick note was cheaper than a fine.

my point was data protection applies to children and why should they have doctors notes demanded for being of sick to prove to school they are sick

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 21:39:13

No it's about being asked to produce a doctor's certificate to prove the child is ill.

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 21:40:36

Have you ever asked a doctor for a note to prove your child had an appointment ivykate?

ivykaty44 Sat 08-Dec-12 21:48:00

Possibly you don't want to answer the question I have now asked twice, I shall leave it as it is becoming clear you are not either able to answer the question or don't want to.

RaisinBoys Sat 08-Dec-12 21:48:47

"In most schools the letters would be generated by the EWO centrally with LEA data not by the school"

Mrz As I said up the thread our EWO is directly employed by the school (in conjunctionn with 3 others) - She reviews the registers at school every fortnight and then sends out badly written, ill judged letters.

Local procedure with the letters coming from the school. No reference to LA.

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 21:51:39

RaisinBoys my post re EWO was to radicalsub and if you read says "In most schools" not In RaisinBoys child's school or In ALL schools

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 21:54:19

Your question has been answered ivykate ...I'm afraid I'm not privy to the woman's life story

RaisinBoys Sat 08-Dec-12 21:57:05

No it's about being asked to produce a doctor's certificate to prove the child is ill.

So Mrz a GP's certificate proves that a child is ill?


What, even if it is issued post illness, because one is unable to get an appointment during the actual illness and the child no longer has any symptoms?

Oh please!

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 21:57:50

Once upon a time there was a mother who didn't send her child to school. When the wicked headteacher asked her to prove where her child had been she refused. The wicked headteacher sent the big bad EWO around to issue a fine but the mother refused to pay so the wicked headteacher took her to court where the judge decided to send her to prison. And they all lived happily ever after. The End

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 21:58:57

No RaisinBoys it proves nothing other than the school is taking it's responsibility to follow the law seriously

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 22:00:05

probably because they have had their wrists slapped in the past for not investigating every absence

difficultpickle Sat 08-Dec-12 22:06:07

I would imagine the GP would charge for a sick certificate that is issued outside the norm of less than 7 days illness. It doesn't take a minute for the school to check the pupil's attendance record and moderate their instructions accordingly. What an utter waste of time.

RaisinBoys Sat 08-Dec-12 22:06:20

Direct employment of EWO's is now quite common Mrz particulary in areas with hard/soft federations and clusters, so I would question your "most schools" statement.

Can't be doing with your sarcasm and defensiveness so it's time for me to sign off this thread.

Thanks everyone else for your informative and/or supportive comments.

We'll continue what we do now - school when well, home when not. GP if required. GP's notes? Hell no!

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 22:09:59

As you have stated your child has a great attendance record so is it likely that you will need to produce a certificate ...

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 22:10:53

bisjo we have two families who are asked to produce doctors certificates and they are not charged

ivykaty44 Sat 08-Dec-12 22:25:18

mr you never answered the question and seem to think truancy is the same as a parents keeping a sick child at home. Every single link you put up was about truancy, this thread is about sickness from school and parents being fined for not producing proof that there child was sick. Children need to be at home when sick, not bundled in with truanting children, which is what you have done.

So where is this woman that kept her child home from school sick and was then sent to prison for not paying a fine for not producing a certificate from her gp to say her child was sick/ill - she doesn't exist and that is why you don't want to answer the question.

mrz Sat 08-Dec-12 22:34:05

No ivykate I don't think a parent keeping a sick child at home is the same as truancy. I do think keeping a child at home is non attendance in the eyes of the law.

As I've told you before I don't know if the child was or wasn't sick ivykate you?
I don't know the mum or the child and have never claimed they are personal friends, acquaintances. The case was reported in the press as were the cases I linked to

difficultpickle Sun 09-Dec-12 00:55:38

Were they for periods of illness of less than 7 days mrz? If so I'm surprised as our GP wouldn't according to the long list in the waiting room. I'm surprised school would bother to ask unless attendance is poor.

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 09:22:58

They are for single days bisjo

PolkadotCircus Sun 09-Dec-12 09:35:16

Hmmm this annoys me because I think parents are being pressured to send in sick kids and there seems to be double standards as at our school teachers seem to have waaaaay more time off through sickness than most kids(certainly mine).

At ours you have to send them dosed up if they're not feeling unwell(d&v being the exception) and then the school will ring you if needs be(often they don't bother and I've had upset kids come home who say they've said repeatedly that they feel shite but nobody called).

Anyhooo this is what I do and we have good attendance however teachers don't seem to go by this rule and our school seems to be blighted by teachers off sick.

Was mighty hacked off this week as there is a cold/sore throat bug going round and I sent all 3 in every day dosed up only to have 2 of their teachers off over 3 days for the same bloody bug-not fair and my kids are starting to notice.1 of my dc threw a mighty strop when I dosed her up and sent her off with a pack of tissues as she said it wasn't fair as Mrs **was allowed to stay at home when she feels ill.

I think schools need to remember kids are human and perhaps deserve to be treated in the same way as themselves when feeling ill.

megandraper Sun 09-Dec-12 09:38:42

This sounds very heavy-handed.

For what it's worth, my son (Reception) has a persistent record of non-attendance for minor illness. Roughly every three weeks he gets a very high temperature for about 3 days. If some days are over the weekend, he's only off school for one day, otherwise it can be 3 days.

School have a rule that you don't go if you have a temperature. Even if they didn't, I wouldn't send him as he is not well enough. I would rather he didn't miss so much school, but there is little to be done about it.

No repercussions, since it is a private school. Just some sympathy, actually.

He is being investigated by a paediatrician to see if there is an underlying reason for this. I am having to fight for that though. His younger brother is still at nursery, but has the same issue.

I would be outraged at being asked to pay for some sort of medical certificate over this! I wouldn't object to having a conversation with someone in authority explaining the circumstances, as long as they were well-mannered about it.

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 09:46:11

It seems people are taking things very personally when all schools are doing is abiding by the law. The law is there to ensure children attend school regularly and is aimed at those irresponsible parents who fail to send their child to school unfortunately as with all laws it doesn't make a distinction between those parents and responsible parents like RaisinBoys.
The government set attendance targets and schools must be able to show they are taking their responsibility seriously regardless of personal feelings because it has a consequence for the school.
My own school was given unsatisfactory for "safeguarding" in our last Ofsted simply because we hadn't evidence that we had taken action against parents like RaisinBoys! You ans I may not like getting a letter but we need to remember it isn't personal.

TheLightPassenger Sun 09-Dec-12 09:59:28

I agree with Cory, I think its appalling that parents should be expected to pay for a sick note for a genuinely unwell child, not to mention the waste of NHS resources. Saggars advice is sensible and more practical.

difficultpickle Sun 09-Dec-12 11:26:27

I can see what schools are trying to do but it is a ridiculous burden to add to GPs most of whom are already drowning in the workload they have. Ds was off sick on Friday with a stinking cough/cold. It is a bug he has had a week so I wouldn't bother the GP with it unless it got a lot worse.

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 11:34:41

agree that it's ridiculous but so are many of the directives's all about jumping through hoops and getting worse.

nappysan Sun 09-Dec-12 15:02:53

lucky you that your school cares so much!

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