Letter about poor attendance - should I worry?

(65 Posts)
FlatsInDagenham Fri 25-Jan-13 14:25:44

DD1 is in reception. Since starting in September she has caught every virus going and seems to be constantly fighting a new illness and has had quite a few days off school, particularly since winter set in.

So we had a letter this morning from the school regarding her attendance rate, which has dropped to 86%. It says that 'the LA Attendance Officer begins to take an interest in children's attendance that falls below 90%'

Should I be worried? What am I supposed to do when she is genuinely ill? Maybe I should see her GP.

expansivegirth Fri 25-Jan-13 15:00:04

If she's under five it doesn't matter a jot. She's not legally obliged to be in school anyway so the attendance officer wouldn't even bother.

You could ask the school if it's a 'form letter' - ie goes out to everyone, automatically generated, and has no real meaning or force.

You could ask the school if they want a doctors letter to prove your daughter is ill, and what provisions they make to cover the cost for this to be issued if this is what they indeed required (and do they need it for colds and coughs as well).

You could ask if the school is happy for your daughter to be sent in while ill, and whether they have a sick room sufficient to care for her throughout the day if her temperature/stomach ache whatever worsens.

You could ask the school how they differentiate between actual truanting dangerous to a chlld's education (ie five year old being kept at home because mum too drunk to get out of bed) or five year old being a bit ill. And whether the school makes this distinction before sending the letter to the attendance officer.

You could ask the school to clarify this in the form letter so parents don't get unnecessarily anxious.

You could rage about this in your head.

You could ignore it.

lougle Fri 25-Jan-13 15:10:49

In DD2's case:

Yes - it was a form letter
Yes -they want a sick note each and every time.
No - they won't cover the cost
No - they aren't happy for her to be sent in ill, but insist that I must be lying that her temperature was 39.7 for an entire week while she was in school.
No - they aren't prepared to entertain a situation where the doctor refuses a sick note as they aren't actually ill, but to send them in would break school policy (ie. vomiting the night before but perfectly fine in themselves - policy is 48 hours).
No - they don't differentiate.
No - they will not make a distinction
Yes - they will involve EWO
No - they won't clarify
Yes - I did rage about it in my head (and had assertive discussion with the HT)
No - it didn't change anything

So there you go.

expansivegirth Fri 25-Jan-13 15:14:33

That is INFURIATING. Poor you.

RiversideMum Fri 25-Jan-13 19:17:51

Maybe I shouldn't say this being teacher, but the chances of an EWO taking any notice of a reception child with 86 pc attendance are virtually nil.

traintracks Fri 25-Jan-13 20:14:42

Tell them that if they want a sick note you will give them written consent and they can write to the GP for it. Then they will be responsible for the fee. I'm a GP and we try to discourage these notes otherwise we would have no time to see sick people!

MushroomSoup Fri 25-Jan-13 20:31:32

86% is very low. There is no child in my school with such a low attendance, including a girl with a life threatening disease.

MushroomSoup Fri 25-Jan-13 20:32:20

River, as a Headteacher I can tell you that my EWO would be following this child.

expansivegirth Fri 25-Jan-13 20:40:24

So, out of curiousity, when does the EWO worry?

If a child is doing well, has a generally good attendance (when not ill), is never late, has a great attitude towards school etc and clearly comes from a family that is not going to let that child sink - what would the EWO do in say, Y1 or Y2 if attendance was around 85 per cent because of either 1) illness or 2) one ten day absence for a holiday (or whatever).

Would they waste their time on this?

THe point of the attendance policy is because of the so-called link between attendance and achievement later in life. But it's a correlation, not a causal link. It depends why they are absent. Does an EWO have the leeway to make this distinction?

Lara2 Fri 25-Jan-13 20:43:00

Please correct me if I'm wrong anyone, but I thought that although you don't have to be full time in school until the term after your 5th birthday, once you accept a full time place and attend full time, you're supposed to have an acceptable level of attendance or the EWO will be involved.

expansivegirth Fri 25-Jan-13 20:49:13

I believe that is true. kids can go part time with the heads agreement up to that age with no impact on attendance statistics. mine did.

expansivegirth Fri 25-Jan-13 21:08:30

Sorry Lara. I'm so tired. I'll shut up. I thought that EWOs didn't get involved before five, but you could well be right.

MushroomSoup Fri 25-Jan-13 21:28:18

EWO would definitely be involved with 4 year olds. If you accept a place before the term your child turns 5 you are expected to attend regularly.

FlatsInDagenham Fri 25-Jan-13 21:48:16

Mushroom, what is your advice? My DD has not had a single day off that wasn't necessary due to either a high temperature or vomiting within 48hours. She has picked up every single virus possible since starting school. What am I supposed to do next time she is ill? Send her in? Genuine question - I am really worried about this sad.

FlatsInDagenham Fri 25-Jan-13 21:49:04

By the way, she is 4. Her birthday is end of August.

expansivegirth Fri 25-Jan-13 23:00:57

What is the point of 'authorised absence'. Do the absence statistics make a distinction between the two? Is the only difference that if it's authorised the EWO wouldn't be involved?

PastSellByDate Sat 26-Jan-13 08:09:34

Hi FlatsinDagenham

Is this the first time your daughter has gone into a situation with a large group of children? (i.e. did she attend nursery or play group before starting school?)

If this is the first group situation for your DD - then I'm not surprised. When my DDs started nursery they were sick a lot - usually when I could least manage/ handle the loss of time at work. I had a lot of unpaid leave during that stage, because my girls were always sick - chicken pox, fevers, vomiting, you name it.

What I will say is this, if you see no improvement than generally this may indicate that your DD has a weak chest, tonsil problems, or poor immunity, etc... and that is worth discussing with your GP. I would start keeping a log of when she is ill, what the symptoms were (high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, chicken pox, ear ache, swollen glands, etc...) because there could be some underlying issues.

I'd also think about her general diet. Is she getting five servings of fruit or vegetables a day. It seems silly - but lots of fresh fruit and veg (carrot sticks, dried fruit, fresh fruit, etc...) really do help general health. Should you consider a children's vitamin?

As others have said - your DD is only 4, so there is concern at low attendance, but it isn't going to get you in trouble. A boy in Y4 had chornic absence due to tonsilitis but was on a very long waiting list for surgery to have his tonsils removed here. He finally had surgery (after many cancellations) late in Y4 and since then he's never missed school.

I think the way to take this is that the system was so abused but parents claiming illness that 'illness' is no longer respected as a reasonable excuse for absence.

Secondly, the money a school receives is based on attendance - so unauthorised absences have to be kept to a minimum from the school's point of view.

Look at it this way - if an EWO officer came visiting unexpectedly and witnessed the fever and vomiting he/ she would agree it was absence due to illness. Unfortuantely not everyone has good health/ immune systems.

The problem with the letters for ordinary parents who aren't lying about passed out on drugs/ drink - is that they are rather intimidating. But bear in mind you are doing nothing wrong - you are following the school policy and it is up to the City Council EWO to prove you are willfully keeping your child off school (which from what you are saying, you very definitely are not).

FlatsInDagenham Sat 26-Jan-13 10:29:55

PastBy - thank you for your response.

Yes she was at a preschool setting but it was much smaller than this so she came into contact with far fewer children,

I will look at her diet. She eats a lot of fruit but probably not enough veg. And I'll think about giving her a multi-vit too. Thank you for your suggestions.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:45:57

"I think the way to take this is that the system was so abused but parents claiming illness that 'illness' is no longer respected as a reasonable excuse for absence."

I think the way to take this is that educational authorities, not being medically trained, have no idea of how developing immune systems work. I once explained the LAs take on attendance to a paediatric consultant in immunology and he said that medically it is totally unrealistic; everything we know about the immune system suggests that for a substantial proportion of children it will not be strongly developed enough at primary school age to preclude a number of infections bad enough to warrant staying at home (up to 17/year is still not considered abnormal!).

The minimum attendance targets are based on political decisions; they have not been worked out in consultation with people who know how children's bodies actually work. It's like the government deciding that X proportion of children must be able to walk by 14 months because lots of children can and then treating it as a failure of the nursery if they can't get a high enough proportion.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:48:58

MushroomSoup Fri 25-Jan-13 20:31:32
"86% is very low. There is no child in my school with such a low attendance, including a girl with a life threatening disease. "

My dd has had lower than this throughout her school career due to a combination of chronic pain and a badly working immune system.

A life threatening disease doesn't necessarily take you out of school, but there are other disorders (including suppressed immune systems) that do.

I have made numerous cups of tea for EWOs who have generally agreed that there isn't a lot I can do other than being supportive of dd in her difficult situation. Her secondary school runs a double book keeping system which keeps her off the radar of the EWO and their attendance officer knows all about her.

5madthings Sat 26-Jan-13 11:57:06

I just got this letter for ds2 in yr6. Last term he had norovirus and had a week off, he was so poorly we had the out of hours Dr out. Then he had one day back at school and they phoned us up to come and collect him as he got poorly, he then ended up having another week off with flu. I think as he is very skinny the norovirus really took it out of him and then the flu.

Plus we have hasdloads of snow, the school mainly stayed open but sent a message saying 'only come in if its safe to travel' well for us its a half an hour walk without snow and I have a 4 and 2 yr old as well as the school age ones. I couldn't physically get the push hair (3wheel off road type) over the field to get them to school. The school said in ds2's yr group they had 20 kids make it in, out of 60 intake, so we were not the only ones!

Anyway I got the letter, spoke to the teacher and ht who were fine as they knew why he had been off and his attendance is nnormally good, no concerns etc but its standard once attendance drops below a certain amount. The school are happy with the reasons and just said to explain to the ewo.

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Sat 26-Jan-13 12:24:00

86% is 8 days off in a term; quite a lot, but not extreme for a 4 year old in her first term at school. They get knackered at that age and it's entirely reasonable to cut them a lot of slack when it comes to R&R from minor bugs that you'd expect an 8 year old to struggle on with.

Ilovesunflowers Sat 26-Jan-13 14:50:32

That is 1.4 days off every two weeks/10 school days. Approx 3 days off per month. Yes this is a worry. Her education will be compromised if it continues. She will miss letter sounds, new numbers, new shapes, new topics starting etc.

There is little you can do if she is genuinely ill. However you need to do your bit too. I often came across parents who kept their children off at the slightest cold. I'm not saying you do but to be honest that attendance score is very low, even for a reception child. Make sure her immune system is strengthened by a healthy diet, vitamins, anti bac hand gel during the winter period when bugs run rife. Make sure she gets loads of fresh air and exercise. Probably stuff you are doing already and if it is then perhaps see a doctor to see why she is getting so ill that she has to be kept off school so often.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 22:08:22

Quite likely there isn't much a doctor can do except say that it is normal for some children to have late developing immune system. Dd had all the blood tests for immune disorders because her school were so insistent, but the consultant told me from the start that he didn't expect to find anything because she was within normal range. And he didn't. For anything actually to show up in a blood test you would need the kind of immunity problem that would mean a feverish cold regularly lands you in hospital with pneumonia, not the far more common slightly late development of immune system that means you catch many feverish colds.

CecilyP Sat 26-Jan-13 22:32:08

see a doctor to see why she is getting so ill that she has to be kept off school so often.

But she isn't getting 'so ill'. She is getting a little bit ill, frequently - as DCs often do when they start school - I know mine did. What is a doctor going to say? Probably that she is catching all these bugs because she has just started school. Surely she can't be the only one. I wouldn't worry about her education being compromised either, unless the pace in reception is now so fast that if you miss a few days, you will never catch up.

pointythings Sat 26-Jan-13 22:41:57

Anti-bac hand gel should really only be used for D&V - for colds it's useless and may have an adverse effect. Children need to 'meet' as many viruses as possible to develop immunity - and in some children this may take longer than in others.

I'm very hmm about attendance targets just because they are so very politicised - the welfare of the actual children seems to be a secondary consideration sad.

Ilovesunflowers Sun 27-Jan-13 15:06:05

Well if she is only a 'little bit ill' then she can go to school then can't she Cecily.

Pointythings - good point that anti bac gel doesn't work on viruses.

5madthings Sun 27-Jan-13 15:12:07

You can be Ill enough that you can't go to school but not be I'll enough to go to the drs.

cory Sun 27-Jan-13 15:18:21

Ilovesunflowers Sun 27-Jan-13 15:06:05
"Well if she is only a 'little bit ill' then she can go to school then can't she Cecily."

For immune disorder purposes, "just a little bit ill" might still cover a temperature of 38.9, maybe vomiting and possibly an ear infection- which is not the state in which they would want you at school.

My brother got a high temperature and this level of symptoms every time he caught a cold for the first few years of school. It was a nightmare for my mother. This is still not the level of immunity problem where something will show up on the blood tests; for the kind of immune disorder that would show up on blood tests, you'd probably be looking at frequent hospitalisation with full blown pneumonia rather than just flu. Doesn't mean anyone who has the flu is fit to go to school.

CecilyP Sun 27-Jan-13 15:28:34

Well if she is only a 'little bit ill' then she can go to school then can't she Cecily.

I disagree. You can be too ill to go to school while still not ill enough to go to the doctor. If a child has a nasty cold, or flu or a throat infection, you don't need a doctor to tell you what is wrong with them or to prescribe anything that can't be bought over the counter at the chemist. And as it is a trend when children start school, there doesn't seem much point in consulting a doctor to see if there is something more serious wrong.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sun 27-Jan-13 15:33:38

OP - school are duty bound to let you know what your child's attendance is. It's not altogether a bad thing see it in black and white as some parents do need to see the impact lots of odd days have. Being in reception, school are not yet familiar with what type of parent you are; the type that takes the children shoe shopping on a Thursday and thinks it's OK to have birthdays off or the type that's basically doing their best to keep their child well and in school.

I have plenty of both types of parent and I try to treat them as individuals but it's surprising how the health of some children improves when a penalty warning lands on the doorstep. I'm not including you in this category smile

In your shoes I would ignore the letter, continue to send your child when she is well and keep her off when she isn't.

Secondly, the money a school receives is based on attendance - so unauthorised absences have to be kept to a minimum from the school's point of view. This is not true afaik.

drjohnsonscat Sun 27-Jan-13 17:19:56

Dd in yr 1 has had 86pc attendance. It was 84pc last year. She has had chickenpox, flu, three or four UTIs (investigated), at least two vomiting bugs and various random fevers. I wouldn't take her to the docs for anything other than the UTIs. You can absolutely be too ill for school but not ill enough for the dr. It's actively unhelpful for schools to be seeking sick notes for childhood bugs - my GP certainly does not want to see me every time one of my children throws up or has a fever (that would be four times since 1 Jan and frankly we've all got better things to do)

I'm a single parent who works full time so my children go to school if at all possible. But these hard and fast rules are a bit daft. Children do get sick frequently. I do hope our illness rate will improve but schools should display some common sense at this age. Ours does btw. No letter here.

ChristmasJubilee Sun 27-Jan-13 17:30:53

I would phone the school on the first day of her absence letting them know what is wrong and, on her return, send a letter detailing everything including any dr's appointments, medication prescribed, etc and keep a copy in a folder. Remember to document if she was sent home from school and, if so, what was said to you.

Don't worry about it.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 27-Jan-13 21:55:27

I think there are discrepancies in the use of EWO's authority in different areas.
Before leaving school in July at the end of y3 my dds attendance was in the 70's, nobody batted an eye lid and no EWO involved. My dd wasn't even ill, well hardly ever.
She was good publicity for the LEA and school as she has particular talents which she pursued during many school hours.
I think it is disgusting that parents of children who are ill are subjected to threats and made to feel irresponsible when children like my dd are encouraged to skip school. The end result for us was leaving school as I was afraid her education would suffer. But this came from us as parents not the LEA.

lougle Sun 27-Jan-13 22:18:29

My DD2 had almost 100% attendance in Yr R.

In October last year, she suddenly came down with a virus just before half-term. She didn't pick up over half-term, and still wasn't well enough for school when it finished. I had taken her to the doctors and was given antibiotics. I took her back to the doctors a day or two later, explaining that she'd had quite a few days off already, and I needed to know if she was faking it (she was displaying anxiety). The doctor said 'no she's not faking, her glands are up in her neck and I think she has mesenteric adenitis'. He recommended that I keep her home until she had one 'good day', because she was falling asleep mid-morning, mid-afternoon and going to bed early. I discussed this with her teacher.

I tried to get her back to school, but after one day of being back, she had diarrhoea in the evening. She had to be excluded for 48 hours. Then, she went back to school for a few days. On a Sunday evening, she had severe abdominal pain (enough to call Out of Hours and them to want a Doctor to visit us at home because they could hear her screams), but eventually she vomited copiously. Of course, that led to another 48 hour exclusion.

The last week of term, I sent her to school daily with a temperature of 39.7c.

Despite this, her attendance was 79.84%. I got the letter. I told the HT that I wasn't happy to get the letter, considering I had been in such close contact with school, GPs and Paediatrician. She basically accused me of lying. She had no idea that I had been phoning the school (note to self: email each and every time). She wouldn't believe that I had been sending her in with a temperature of 39.7 because she said the school would have sent her home.

This Friday, she came out of school with a temperature of 38.5. It rose to 39.6 in the evening, stayed that way, dropping only 1 degree after paracetamol. Now, she has a temperature of 38c.

Tomorrow morning, I have to decide whether to:

a) Follow school policy and keep her off (temp over 37.5 - don't send), but not take her to the doctor - that will be recorded as unauthorised absence.

b) Follow school policy, take her to the doctor, but risk him refusing to write a letter, because it isn't his job to write sick notes for school children. If he doesn't, it will be unauthorised.

c) Take her to school despite being ill, so that other children catch her bugs and get kept off school.

The fact that she has to have weekly blood tests and I take her 10 miles away before 07.30 in the morning so that she doesn't miss the start of school seems to give no indication to the school as to how important I think her education is...

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 09:24:36

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sun 27-Jan-13 15:33:38
"OP - school are duty bound to let you know what your child's attendance is. It's not altogether a bad thing see it in black and white as some parents do need to see the impact lots of odd days have. Being in reception, school are not yet familiar with what type of parent you are; the type that takes the children shoe shopping on a Thursday and thinks it's OK to have birthdays off or the type that's basically doing their best to keep their child well and in school.

I have plenty of both types of parent and I try to treat them as individuals but it's surprising how the health of some children improves when a penalty warning lands on the doorstep. "

Otoh schools may not realise the long-lasting damage that is done if they fail to distinguish between these two types of parents (and children!).

I am sure dd's headteacher thought he was doing his best when he kept calling us in to criticise our parenting and kept explaining to dd that she couldn't really be ill or in pain.

What he doesn't see, and never needs to know about, is how dd is going to pieces in secondary school because she cannot get her head around that here she will be believed, the years of self harming, the suicide attempts, all brought on because she feels she cannot face having to explain yet again to people who may not believe her.

The HT told her often enough how her whole life would be impacted, how she wouldn't be able to cope with her studies or earn a living, how everything would be hopeless if she couldn't stop being ill.

If you have an incurable chronic illness, would that make you feel you wanted to go on living?

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 09:26:05

Note: to explain the seeming contradictions with my earlier posts: dd has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, which causes chronic pain; it is thought that the stress from this also lowers her immune system. So not just talking colds and flu here.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 09:30:06

I know I sound bitter, but dd took an overdose week before last because her school transport knocked on the door and she freaked out of explaining to him why she couldn't go.

Startail Mon 28-Jan-13 09:45:56

DD2 has 88% for last term, she has had 8 days off.

The first single one I might just have crow-barred her to school feeling awful. The two days the Matron sent her home.

The full week she had a virus that gave her an ear infection as well.
I've never known DD2 take a week off school ever.

She was still pretty subdued right into the Christmas holidays. Not like her at all.

It's been a really really bad year for lingering bugs. I'm absolutely certain EWO's won't have time to chase DCs who have genuinely had a couple of weeks off this winter.

poozlepants Mon 28-Jan-13 10:05:49

Some years are just worse than others for bugs. DS 4 is in preschool and he has been off for about 3 weeks in the last 2 months. It's been flu, then a vomiting bug, then a nasty virus. It's been going round the whole nursery. DH and I have caught everything he has which is unusual as well. Over the previous 2 years I think he was only off for about 3 days before that.
These things happen - I wouldn't stress about it.

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 10:08:48

My DD who is 11 and started at grammar school last term has been off sick loads.Again, just low level things .Just recently she had a rash accompanied by a mild fever, then a heavy cold and then diarrhoea one after the other.Last Wednesday she was complaining of tummy pain and feeling queasy but no other symptoms so I sent her in because she'd been off a week and a half!.The school rang me to collect her at lunchtime and I took her to the docs.She took one look at her and was horrified that I'd sent her to school so pale and washed out and that she should stay off til at least Monday and get properly recovered.
You can't win!!

FlouncingMintyy Mon 28-Jan-13 10:11:55

Nicely dropped in that your dd is at grammar school Socharlotte wink.

I'm just thinking even if an attendance officer did arrange to come and see you about this I'm sure she'd be pretty easily reassured. So, try not to stress about it. Basically it's an automatically generated letter. We had one for DS once when he had been off with shingles. It even mentioned not taking time off for shopping which was bloody cheeky in the circumstances. I did go in to see someone at the school about it and make my feelings and objections known.
But equally you could ignore it if that's easier.
It would be nice if they at least included more concern for the possibility the child has been ill, especially where the parent has told them why the child has been absent hmm

expansivegirth Mon 28-Jan-13 11:06:19

lougle: Why don't you send an e-mail to the head that you understand that she does not trust you, and does not trust your judgement. Therefore, next time your daughter is ill you will take your daughter into school, and ask thehead to make the call. Bring a thermometer. This is what I would be tempted to do.

expansivegirth Mon 28-Jan-13 11:08:58

BTW: Please can someone explain to me EXACTLY in which ways the school suffers if the children fall below a certain attendance ie financial? Ofsted and it's ramifications (linked to money?). AND WHAT IS THIS LEVEL PLEASE. ie. Is it judged against national guidelines.

ALSO LEGALLY at what stage is a school allowed to fine. And how easy is it to challenge a fine?

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 11:34:33

'Nicely dropped in that your dd is at grammar school Socharlotte wink. '

lol .I honestly had a reason for that which I didn't state!It was to say that DD is worried at missing school because of the pace of work, and the amount she will have to catch up when she gets back! For example my DSIL has taught French in several comprehensive schools where the year 7s are not taught much grammar , dds class have done lots!

Really Op I wouldn't engage with the school too much over this.Just say she was ill and leave it at that

Hercule Mon 28-Jan-13 11:50:15

Expansive girth - I'm not an expert but I don't think the school suffers financially , but it is an Ofsted requirement that attendance levels are at or above a certain level ( can't find exactly what that is at the moment). But I was under the impression that the main problem is that Ofsted is now very results driven and the school has to show high levels of both attainment and progress for all pupils. If a child's attendance is low then obviously it's harder to ensure they make the recommended progress( if they're not there the school can't teach them). So low attendance has an indirect negative effect on the results of the school.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 12:17:33

Attendance is one of the categories in which a school is judged on an Ofsted report: very hard to get an Outstanding if attendance is low.

takemehometoauntem Mon 28-Jan-13 13:10:57

Don't sweat it...if your daughter is genuinely ill let the EWO do the running! Just keep a diary as mentioned above, dates, symptoms, if you visited doctor (in our area we have to describe the symptoms to the receptionist and we are either booked in to see the doctor or a nurse practitioner dependent on severity) , what was the outcome. Also make a note of times when you daughter is sent home, symptoms/reasons (you would be surprised how many half days there are when a child has been sent home before dinner which soon add up to full days, make a note of times when your daughter leaves school with a temp, what her temp was, and then what she was like the following day. My son tends to get really nasty flu like symptoms when he gets stressed (very low energy, eyes glazed and red, rubbish in his throat which he can't move, more argumentative than usual, lower tolerance levels than usual), I will go by my own instincts on whether or not he is ill enough to attend school, sometimes I give him some medicine and see if I get a phone call later that day or just keep him off. But he doesn't necessarily need to go to the GP (TBH I would feel that I was wasting the GP's time especially if I knew what was wrong hmm) Maybe it would be a good thing to go to the GP and explain to him what has been asked of you maybe he/she can send a little letter (and copy you in smile) to the school pointing out how unnecessary their requests are? and refuse to do this? I shouldn't think there would be much they can do if your daughters GP point blank refuses, Unless they sent the EWO out to see them too.
Oh just for the record my son is taking multi-vits, actimel, goes to bed early, eats a healthy diet, and his behavior/attention WILL deteriorate dramatically when poorly so he will probably spend more time being punished than actually learning if he is sent in to school so not too sure how his education would be effected any more if he was to attend school ill than for him to stay at home confused.

WhatKindofFool Mon 28-Jan-13 13:19:44

I had a similar letter once. I can't remember the exact figure. I chucked it in the bin and thought no more of it.

expansivegirth Mon 28-Jan-13 13:23:40

But is authorised and unauthorised absence judged differently by Ofsted?

And what actually different does it make to the child... ie will it affect their future prospects in any way, their chance of getting into a secondary school etc.

What if your child is ill/taken out for a trip as a one off but is, say, among the top set in the class, working well ahead of average, and their absence will clearly have zero negative impact on their work (also by the admittance of the class teacher)?

And AT WHAT POINT CAN FINES LEGALLY KICK IN. Is it only after ten days? Or after any unauthorised absence. Do you think I should post this as a separate thread... perhaps.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Mon 28-Jan-13 17:35:17

Otoh schools may not realise the long-lasting damage that is done if they fail to distinguish between these two types of parents (and children!). I totally agree with you here cory. But that's because I've been on your side of the situation too so am, hopefully, sympathetic and more eager to differentiate than most.

expansivegirth - unauthorised/authorised isn't differentiated by ofsted anymore. It used to be but now it's just the schools overall %. In fact they'd be a bit hmm if a school had no unauthorised absence. As regards fines, most schools will look towards beginning the penalty process once attendance dips below 80% and this is why they will write once attendance is under say 90% because you have to give parents a chance to improve where possible. Many local authorities have there own guidelines which are available on their websites. Most LAs issue a penalty warning notice which will ask you to ensure you're child's full attendance in school over the next 20 days or be subject to a fine. Rolling penalty warnings are quite common with persistent absentees so that as one period ends another begins. Absence during the penalty period would usually have to be covered by medical evidence and if you appealed you would have to provide it.

Hercule Mon 28-Jan-13 17:50:59

Expansivegirth - it may be that in the situation you describe that particular child's education would not necessarily be detrimentally affected. Unfortunately a body like Ofsted hasn't the time to consider every child in the school individually so has to apply a 'rule' across the board. Not to mention the fact that if one child's absence was overlooked for the reasons you describe, you would inevitably have parents of children whose prospects would be ( or perhaps are being) affected crying 'unfair' if their child's absence was pursued.

Hercule Mon 28-Jan-13 17:57:26

Unfortunately there are families where children are not attending school nearly enough to ensure they have access to a decent education (either because of personal issues within the family which they may need help with or because the parents do not sufficiently value education). It is these children the low attendance procedures are there to help.

BeaWheesht Mon 28-Jan-13 18:03:33

Ds had 82% attendance in p1 - the school were fine about it - he had chickenpox, slapped cheek, 2 tummy bugs, 2 ear infections and 2 chest infections.

lougle Mon 28-Jan-13 18:45:20

Well, I took DD2 in to school today, DD2 said 'My tummy hurts.' I explained to the teacher that I had brought her to school because she has a normal temperature, although she doesn't feel well. Teacher said perhaps she needs one more day at home and sent me to the office with her.

HT was vile to me, insisting that I take her to the doctor (despite her temperature now being normal). I took her, Dr was very unhappy that school wanted a note, so said that if they want one they must contact the surgery. As expected, DD2 has a virus.

I later got an email from the Head (in response to my email of Friday explaining that DD2 had once again come home from school with a temp of 38.5) and the content basically made it clear that she didn't believe me, that I was fabricating DD2's illnesses and that she was going to refer to school nurse (with my consent) as she felt that without medical guidance we were not going to come to a conclusion that we are both happy with.

Our conclusion is that the HT does not believe DD2 and does not believe me as her mother. We've got a new school place for her starting on Monday. It's unfortunate that she'll miss school between now and then, but I'm not sending her back to an environment where she is so unhappy and disbelieved.

expansivegirth Mon 28-Jan-13 19:19:00

Lougie: Is there room to make a formal complaint to someone, somewhere. It's extremely stupid of the headteacher to forego parents goodwill in this way. Hope the new school is far better for you.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 19:49:56

Hercule Mon 28-Jan-13 17:57:26
"Unfortunately there are families where children are not attending school nearly enough to ensure they have access to a decent education (either because of personal issues within the family which they may need help with or because the parents do not sufficiently value education). It is these children the low attendance procedures are there to help. "

Unfortunately, if your child's education is affected by low attendance due to genuinely poor health, punishing the parents will not automatically cure the child.

Sometimes I feel that headteachers are like politicians: they really believe that if they say in a very firm voice This is unacceptable, then they have actually cured the problem.

I know dd's situation is unacceptable. So does dd. That's why she took 16 times the safe dose of her anti-depressants the other week.

lougle Mon 28-Jan-13 19:59:37

I can make formal complaints, I suppose, but that won't change the fundamental breakdown in trust that has now occurred. You can't turn back time.

If I had the last term again, I would stop DD2 being sick <hollow laugh>, stop her having school anxiety <hear that echo?> and document everything asking for referral to school nurse before she had more than a day off <irony>

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 20:05:50

I think you've done the right thing, lougle, and what I should have done years ago.

lougle Mon 28-Jan-13 20:14:48

Thank you, Cory, that means a lot. I'm shaking on the inside, can't get warm confused I think it's just the stress coming out. It's awful knowing that someone in a position of authority thinks that you don't have your child's best interests at heart, when you really, really do sad

CecilyP Mon 28-Jan-13 21:40:42

I think you have done the right thing too, lougle. It is appalling that someone in authority can browbeat you so much that you feel you have to take a sick child in to school. Who on earth do they think that helps?

I hope all goes well with the new school.

socharlotte Tue 29-Jan-13 09:35:54

Remember -the school is not in authority over you. I think peoplee often forget that.

lougle Tue 29-Jan-13 09:41:21

socharlotte - you are so right.

I emailed her 'old' school last night to inform them that she would not be returning. I have received a written offer of a school place by her 'new' school already - good going when I only enquired about a place at 12pm yesterday. Less than 24 hours!

The change in DD2 is remarkable! For the first time since October, she didn't get up and crawl in to my bed for a cuddle, sucking her hand, this morning. She is smiling and singing. It's quite amazing.

I'm dreading contact from the old school though.

Just tell them that you feel they have a better approach to attendance/ support for sick children if they enquire as to why she's leaving lougle - as socharlotte says they don't have any authority over you, so should be nothing to dread. You can just give them a brief explanation if it helps you to do so, and may help other parents and children at the school, in possibly encouraging them to take a more sympathetic approach.

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