Thoughts on Attendance Certificates etc for kids...

(218 Posts)
expansivegirth Sat 20-Apr-13 09:01:39

Our school has just started giving out attendance prizes for children. This is an infants school. The children are 4, 5, 6. and 7. The attendance prizes - certificates or a pencil... - are given both to individuals and to classes.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. This policy is seriously arsing me off.

I feel it's deeply unfair to hold children accountable for the fact that heir parents choose not to bring them to school or struggle to get them to school on time...

I feel it fosters feelings of failure and resentment among the class. Thus those kids who care about attendance end up feeling cross with the children who, for whatever reason, don't turn up at all and bring down the class average.

Also the school does not discriminate between absences. A sick child, a child with feckless parents, a child on authorised holiday - they all count equally towards absence figures. A child who is ill ends up not getting a certificate - or worse - getting told off for low attendance - even though she's been throwing up all night.

These are VERY YOUNG KIDS. Anyone able to defend this policy please?

(Other than a Govian attempt to train obedient workers who are able to adjust early to unfair employment laws).

Frikadellen Sat 20-Apr-13 09:10:13

I hate this policy with a passion and I have just asked for it to be raised at our parent forum next month (14th)

My friend and I are going to suggest that they instead go for house points for houses with highest attendance %. So no more individual praise for being well. We have also discussed suggesting something about % of arrival pr house & perhaps do house wear what you like day as "reward"

Last term my dd3 had tonsillitis and then later on V&D obviously she was not in school for either of those episodes. She had 4 days out in total. So she will be " punished" for not being well enough for school. I kept her home as she was too unwell but I know parents who would have sent her in after the V&D (started at 4 pm) as she was not throwing up the next day.

My friends dd has a medical condition where she up until this term have always had termly medical appointments. Due to this she has never had a 100% attendance until this term (where her appointments has gone to half yearly) That to me is as insane how can the fact a child needs to regular see a doctor for monitoring over something she has no control over = she can't get a certificate for 100% attendance?

To me this is a utterly insane thing to suggest.

Sorry you got me off on a rant I really loathe this policy. I very much hope the school takes out points of view into account on this.

MTSgroupie Sat 20-Apr-13 09:17:57

I question the value of such reward schemes. After the initial excitement, my DCs thought that a certificate for sitting nicely on the carpet during story time, for example, was kind of silly.

Having said that, I have no problems with such a scheme in principle. Some kids like the recognition.

MTSgroupie Sat 20-Apr-13 09:22:44

... If my child has all these medical problems then my DC not getting some 'certificate' printed on cheap paper and laminated would be the least of my problems.

Wellthen Sat 20-Apr-13 09:38:29

Please can we ban these threads? I swear people start them just to annoy people. Try doing a search to see if your topic has already been discussed over and over before.

The school is taking action to ensure they have good attendence because it can be a huge factor in progress. Obviously some children have genuine reasons they cant make 100%. I have genuine reasons I wont win a gold medal but I dont expect them to change the rules. We cant do everything in life and its an important message for children.

GerrardWinstanley Sat 20-Apr-13 09:47:34

MTSgroupie - the point is, if your child has a serious medical problem, for them being different is often the hardest thing to live with. And in fact, as a parent to a child with a serious medical condition, inclusion, fairness and normalising her childhood are every bit as important to me as her medical care.

My DD has a hospital appointment at least every 3 months. She already struggles with the social and emotional implications of her condition. Her school have recently introduced an attendance certificate scheme. At some point she will realise she is never going to get one and all those feelings of exclusion will hit her again.

BTW she actually has well above average attendance for her year group. At least once a week she goes to school when I could very reasonably keep her home. She's going to have to be tough so she may as well start now. Despite that she still won't get a certificate, whilst a child who is lucky enough to be well will get one.

Children are either off school because they are sick or because their parents can't be arsed. A laminated bit of paper won't solve either of those problems. It's another one of those things schools introduce to give the appearance of tackling an attendance problem.

I hate these certificates, at least when the kids are of an age where they can't directly control what time they get to school but are dependent on their parents.

I also had a condition which meant termly consultant appointments as a child, therefore I never qualified for any attendance certificate/reward and as a result was singled out regularly by my classmates.

DD's school do do them, but very low key - the child gets a certificate sent home in their bookbag at the start of the next term, if they have achieved 100% attendance. I bin them as soon as they arrive, afaik DD doesn't know they exist yet and I hope she won't.

Hulababy Sat 20-Apr-13 09:57:08

I dislike attendance awards, especially at primary schools and even more so for infant classes.

At these ages attendance rarely has anything to do with the child themselves.

If schools want to give out attendance awards they should possibly give them to the parents. After all they are the ones who are responsible or not.

However, even this is not really workable...it doesn't take into account special needs, disabilities, general illness, etc. where neither child nor parent are responsible.

And I personally, as I work in an infant school, I would like to see more done to discourage parents from bringing in ill children. I am fed up of being ill and catching bugs from poorly children who are brought into school with fevers and high temperatures, d&v, etc.

papooser Sat 20-Apr-13 10:09:08

I hate them too - and equally hate the letters that you receive if your child slips below the given percentage level of attendance. Last term DS1 received a certificate for 100% attendance in the first half term, then a warning letter in the second half because his attendance had slipped below 95% (he had serious gastro followed by chicken pox - what was I supposed to do?). Neither of which has any bearing on his school attendance - if he is well, he goes; if he is infectious and poorly, he doesn't go.

Enthuse Sat 20-Apr-13 10:34:30

My question is: where does this policy come from? In our case it's from the LEA. The school is not pro it. what dies the kea gain by high attendance. Is it just ofsted ranking. How poor does overall attendance have to be before it brings a school down an ofsted 'grade'. What are the repercussions in terms of funding? Is there any serious evidence that the benefits of this policy in infants (if any) outweighed Thr negatives (many). can anyone link me to relevant research? Ta

Enthuse Sat 20-Apr-13 10:41:12

Wellthen: I disagree. It's an unfair policy as it holds children accountable for circumstances beyond their control. I have no intention of allowing my children to passively accept unjust or illogical or ill thought out laws or rules.

Enthuse Sat 20-Apr-13 10:43:28

Some I don't care about... Soothe kids know the lunch box rules are illogical and stupid.... No cake in packed box but chocolate gloop ok for school dinners. But its not worth a fight. I think absence certificates cause distress to many children and are fundamentally unjust.

lljkk Sat 20-Apr-13 10:43:44

I don't care really. But what leaves me hmm is that kids lose attendance marks if they ...

have a medical appointment;
compete representing the school at a sports event;
attend a music grading or
even go to an induction day at the High School.

How does that work? confused

DorisIsWaiting Sat 20-Apr-13 10:59:51

I hate them DD2 has a chronic disease she will never have full attendance (on clinic appointments alone).

Why should she be further penalised for something out of her control.

It's shit

""I have no intention of allowing my children to passively accept unjust or illogical or ill thought out laws or rules."

^^ yes to this well said Enthuse

glaurung Sat 20-Apr-13 11:33:51

A dyspraxic child can never hope to win a sports certificate. Many of the rest don't have much chance either (perhaps because their parents don't do much excercise/throwing and catching with them, but that's not their fault), but a small pool of children with the right genes and the right environment will reap all the sports honours.

Similarly, many children (perhaps dyslexic or with other specific learning problems, or maybe just average kids) will never win spelling tests/ maths certificates and the like as there are always a few gifted children who will mop all these awards up.

So whatever you reward it's down to luck, having the right genes, parents or experience. Attendance certificates are no different. Unless you are against all competition, which is quite a valid stance, but you should then be equally opposed to tables tests, competitive sports etc, it's not really on to moan about them. Like the parents of left-footed lucy at sports day you just have to let others have their moment with good grace.

I do actually think it is a big achievement for a child to go through a term with no absences and something to celebrate (moreso than athletic or maths ability imo). If it stops a few children taking unwarranted duvet days or time of school for avoidable family outings it's a good thing too. Sure there's a lot of luck involved too, but if it helps reduce the culture of days off because you feel like it in some dc that will probably spread to others who also have to have unavoidable days off too, and be a good thing. Children who slog out every day at school and whose parents never bunk them off for the day for a special occasion deserve some reward and remember to those children even health related absence can look appealing as they only see that xxx is missing maths again to see the dentist (or whatever) without having much awareness of the toothache.

SunflowersSmile Sat 20-Apr-13 11:59:06

In the last thread I read on this topic, someone was looking into whether such awards were legally discriminatory. She had a child with a chronic condition and was exploring this avenue. It did seem that it probably was discriminatory in certain cases.
Would love update on this.

Enthuse Sat 20-Apr-13 12:30:42

Glaurung: yes people have different abilities but the point is that attrndance or lateness has nothing to do withna child's ability but with a parents inclination. The kind of parent who allows persistent absenteeism or lateness will not be swayed by a certificate. Plus i think it is deeply wrong to set up a child in conflict with their parent to donthe right thing when they are, say, five.
Plus children do not choose to stay home for duvet days... Their parents allow it. If anyone is to be given a award it is the parents

glaurung Sat 20-Apr-13 12:49:45

if ability can be trained then that's as much to do with parents as late arrival is. Attendance is also down to good health which is probably as much genetic as good parenting. All these things have a mixture of both to be honest.

The really good thing about attendence certs is it sends a very clear message to all children that attendance and education is important and valued. If a child is often late they will know that is wrong even if they can't do anything about it.

tiggytape Sat 20-Apr-13 12:52:16

Sunflower - yes it was landofsoapandglory and the asthma charity told her it was discrimination. Here is what she said on her post:

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

Our school do the same. Absence related to disability has to be logged separately and doesn't count in any attendance stats so DS’s official attendance last term was 100% despite having half a day off every fortnight to attend appointments with his consultants. These appointments cannot be made outside school time and are directly related to his disability. As it happens his school don’t give any staggering rewards for attendance
All parts of society have to make allowances for disability including in terms of attendance. It is utterly unfair (and not allowed) to exclude a child from a reward scheme on the basis that they have a disability that makes ever qualifying for that reward absolutely impossible - in the case of my son for example he has appointments booked in school time for the whole year ahead so would already be disqualified if his school did this.

SunflowersSmile Sat 20-Apr-13 13:14:37

Thanks Tiggytape.
Many schools are being discriminatory then it seems.....

madhairday Sat 20-Apr-13 15:48:11

glaurung, no. They are not an award for any kind of achievement, they are either for good luck or parents pushing sick children into school and infecting all the vulnerable children who are sick a lot anyway.

They are disablist. I took this up with the governing body at our last school and will be doing so at our present one shortly. DD has never won one in her life, she has had hospital appts at least every half term for a number of chronic conditions. Children like her have enough to contend with without being made to feel yet again like they are failing in another area. Even worse are the class awards - dd was regularly bullied due to the fact that she 'lost' the award yet again hmm

They are truly shite. The more i think about them, the more I get angry.

BTW, glaurung, dyspraxic children can win sports awards. DD is dyspraxic and has won awards for her running. She may not run straight or in classic fashion, but she is bloody quick and has the stamina of an Olympic triathlete grin

glaurung Sat 20-Apr-13 16:08:22

most awards are for good luck in one sense or another. Glad that your dd is lucky enough to be bloody quick, perhaps dyspraxia was a bad example - but we all know dc who are not going to win a regular sports event ever, and most times it's the same few athletic types that bag the lot.

I do support efforts to make awards fairer though and tiggy's school sounds as if they have it right excluding absence related to disability.

The vast majority of parents wouldn't be swayed by this to send truly sick dc in. In my experience parents that do this are usually working parents for whom other life pressures are very great and it's the difficulties of emergency childcare that force their hand. It's more likely that children who may have stayed home with a slight sniffle will attend that the other way around.

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 17:16:48

Here is as short summary of school awards by MNers:

MNers don't like it when

- children who are perfectly well behaved and high achieving all the time don't get awards for effort
- naughty children get awards for sitting still for five minutes
- naughty children don't get good conduct awards even though they've tried really hard
- children who live a long way from school in rural areas where there are no pavements don't get awards for walking to school
- children with chronic illnesses don't get attendance awards.

I think it's time schools stopped giving awards.

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 17:19:33

IME, schools give awards for all sorts of things.

For some children, the 100% attendance award may be the only one they are likely to get.

whistleahappytune Sat 20-Apr-13 18:36:49

I hate these awards. It doesn't send the right message at all. An Attendance Certificate is an award for "showing up". Crap really.
And even though I'm very lucky to have a generally healthy daughter with none of the disabilities or chronic illnesses discussed on this thread, she does get the odd virus. This year it was the noro. Cue three days of vom - ...oh I'll spare you the details. I don't see the point of penalising children who get normal childhood illnesses or are dealing with serious medical issues, or otherwise going on approved absences for music or sports activities.

It's nonsense and certainly not "an important message for children".

Startail Sat 20-Apr-13 18:44:52

DD got a meant meter before Easter for under 94%(all absences before Xmas) and a beautiful certificate for 100% in term 2.

She's in Y7 not primary and the sarcastic voice she used to read out the smarmy letter about her much improved attendance was absolutely hilarious.

DD2 loves school she had a stinking cold and an ear infection. It's the first time she's had a whole week off in her life. She was still not herself a week after going back to school.

ipadquietly Sat 20-Apr-13 18:49:28

Just to set your minds at rest (?). IME (fwiw) children have never been upset for not getting attendance awards.

gabsid Sat 20-Apr-13 19:29:46

DS is in Junior school, we have them, but I don't pay much attention to them as its not DS's fault if he has a flu.

radical - probably not though, because attendance is linked to achievement, that's why they do it.

tethersend Sat 20-Apr-13 19:35:01

"The school is taking action to ensure they have good attendence because it can be a huge factor in progress"

Since parental income is a far better indicator of academic achievement, why not reward those children whose parents earn more than, say, £30,000?

They could always nag them to earn more.

SunflowersSmile Sat 20-Apr-13 19:58:17

Not always just certificates though- sometimes special treat while others work or school trip....

tiggytape Sat 20-Apr-13 20:11:14

ipadquietly - some schools have attendance ipod raffles or attendance related outings but that's not really the point:

Either attendance certificates are so nice to win that the mere prospect of one will motivate children to nag their parents not to keep them off school (and therefore it is unfair for disabled children to never have the chance to win something so great)

Or the certificates are so rubbish that disabled children don't care at all that they can never win one (in which case what's the point of havign a certificate scheme that nobody cares about winning?)

You can't have it both ways

ipadquietly Sat 20-Apr-13 20:19:34

Obviously, tiggy some schools want (need?) to take attendance to another dimension!

At my school, none of the children even comment on the certificates given out at the end of the year (1 or 2 in a school of over 300!) It's usually the teacher's children who get them! grin

tiggytape Sat 20-Apr-13 20:26:02

Exactly tethersend.

Ermisch and Francesconi concluded that a mother’s education is a very powerful predictor of her children’s educational achievements, particularly for daughters.

So if we're rewarding factors beyond a child's control that statistically affect educational outcome, let's introduce a "my mummy's clever" certificate and all the children who don't have graduate mum can nag them to join the Open University.
Of course, every time a new piece of research came out, we’d have to adjust the certificates accordingly. I think many children could build up quite a collection to add to the my mummy sends me to school with diarrhoea / I’m lucky not to have a condition that affects all aspects of my life attendance certificates

You might have guessed it is something I feel strongly about having 2 children affected by these things and who would be very hurt to be left out of a reward scheme due to something that messes up a lot of things in their lives already.
If you have a child whose life revolves around tests and worry and appointments the last thing you need is for them to be left out of yet another thing that they can never be part of.

I am lucky - our school disregards time off school related to disability but the rest of the world also accepts people with disability sometimes have more time off (employers have to allow for this for example) so it is wrong for some schools to teach intolerance to it by not making the necessary allowances if they insist on these schemes.

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 20:33:40

At the school I teach at (secondary), children taught in the SEN department are eligible to receive 'raffle tickets' for all sorts of stuff. This may be for good behaviour, not swearing during a lesson (hard for one or two of them), staying in their seats etc. Once, raffle tickets were awarded to two children who spent their time when withdrawn from an MFL lesson wrapping the SENCo's children's Christmas presents (don't get me started on that one). These raffle tickets are used in an end-of-half-term raffle for the chance to win all sorts of inexpensive stuff. Mainly chocolate (great idea for some of them haha).

The non-SEN children may feel very aggrieved that they have no way to win these tickets. However, very few SEN children tend to win Maths Challenge certificates. Few (probably due to the nature of the school and the SEN children within it) ever get awards for sport. The list goes on.

Most schools have a range of awards that allow all children to achieve some, but maybe not all.

Most children will find that there are awards they have very little hope of achieving.

What's the solution - ban all awards that not all students can achieve?

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 20:44:36

I must say, though, I think that any award that is disproportionately large compared to the number of students who can achieve it is very questionable given the supposed limits on schools' budgets.

FatherSpodoKomodo Sat 20-Apr-13 21:27:18

ipadquietly I have a child who was very upset not to get the attendance treat his brothers got. He was in Reception so still young, and had caught everything that went round that year resulting in a lot of time off and 93% attendance. Both his brothers had 100% and got to go to the cinema as a treat. It was very hard explaining to him why he couldn't go. After all, he couldn't help being ill. I had to keep him off, and a couple of times he got sent home, so the school knew he was genuinely ill.

I don't really agree with attendance treats because the kids that turn up all the time are going to still turn up anyway, and the ones with parents that can't be arsed still have parents that can't be arsed and don't care about the treats, and it punishes the genuinely ill ones or makes them/the parents bring them to school while still ill.

auntevil Sat 20-Apr-13 21:57:37

Another one here ipadquietly that has children who get competitive with each other for attendance certificates. Reward for 100% over 3 terms is a £5 book token. My children can't qualify.
This again is all down to medical appointments that are not bookable outside of school hours as the clinics they attend for medical conditions do not run at user friendly times.
The saddest part is that they miss maybe an hour and a half from school once or twice a term, and for this they can never achieve the certificate.
When I brought up the discriminatory aspect with management, it was met witha shrug of the shoulder.
I totally get the correlation between progress and attendance, but do we have to let children this young believe that life is unfair and there's nothing they can do about it.
The other aspect that winds me up about this is the registration times. If your child has an appointment that means they miss 20 minutes at the start of the day and then they come in, they get marked absent for the whole morning. If someone leaves directly after registration and does not return until afternoon registration, they are marked in. Who misses the most education?!

tethersend Sat 20-Apr-13 22:08:34

"What's the solution - ban all awards that not all students can achieve?"

Nobody is saying that children shouldn't receive awards, just that they should only be rewarded for stuff they've actually done.

Not only do attendance awards penalise children for circumstances outside their control, they reward them for exactly the same thing. That's absurd.

Primary aged children are not in control of their own attendance- to reward them for it is to make a mockery of other awards won on their own merit.

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 22:51:38

Examples of awards that, at primary level, are actually "outside the control of the chidren"

attendance
sporting ability (dependent, in part, on the ability of the parents to engage in extra curricular activities)
any academic achievement
artistic achievement
musical achievement
conduct ('disablist' against children with behavioural problems)
home learning

Examples of awards that children are in control of:

Progress

So, that leaves just one award.

You could say 'effort'. Wow, I wouldnt' want to be a teacher with the responsiboility of deciding who has made the best 'effort' at something. That would lead to no end of problems.

As I have already said, a good school gives awards for all sorts of things.....

Virtually all children will be 'eligible' for some awards, and not others.

All children should, if the scheme is a good one, be eligible to achieve some award.

I don't think any school sponsored award should be disproportionate in its cost compared to the number of children eligible to achieve it. Why can't a certificate in assembly and a letter from the head teacher be enough?

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 00:00:29

Radical, we agree on the ridiculous nature of effort awards. I wrote my PGCE thesis on exactly that. Effort grades and awards are absurd and should be scrapped.

Examples of awards that, at primary level, are actually "outside the control of the chidren"

attendance

Agreed- parents decide whether the child attends or not.

sporting ability (dependent, in part, on the ability of the parents to engage in extra curricular activities)

The key words being 'in part'- children can still be rewarded for the part which they are in control of, eg sportsmanship, improvement on previous achievement etc.

any academic achievement

I disagree that children are not in control of their academic achievement; whilst there are undoubtedly extraneous factors affecting this beyond children's control, this is not the same as having no control over academic achievement at all. You cite 'progress' as being within a child's control- this can and does relate to academic achievement.

artistic achievement

As a former art teacher, I can assure you that children are in control over their achievement within the subject in the same way as they are with any other subject. No natural aptitude, whilst often motivating, is required.

musical achievement

You don't think that children can decide to spend time practising to improve their musical achievement?

conduct ('disablist' against children with behavioural problems)

As a teacher working with children with behavioural difficulties, I dispute this. Children are not always able to modify their behaviour to the standards of a typically developing child, but it is an exceptional case for a child to have no control over their behaviour whatsoever. Applied Behavioural Analysis for example, is one methodology which rewards changes in behaviour, and has been shown to be very effective with children with autism.

home learning

I agree that this is somewhat outside of a child's control- that is to say that I believe there are too may extraneous factors affecting outcomes to make rewarding a child for work done at home a sensible practice. Mind you, I don't think there should be any homework. At all.

ipadquietly Sun 21-Apr-13 00:01:02

As I said - we only do manky little certificates at the end of the year and about 0.02% of the children get them!

Agree totally with everyone about bigger rewards.... obviously a child is not in control of whether s/he goes to school or not, AND has to build immunity to all the bugs which takes some children longer than others.

(Trips to the cinema? £5 vouchers? Where did that come from? shock)

janji Sun 21-Apr-13 00:06:52

The last day of term is prize giving day at my dds (aged 6) school. The children sit though an hour and a half of prizes (the outcome of which are always the dc of govs/PTA... The more negative side of ind ed) including full attendance. My dd received full attendance in reception class but not in y1 and will not have achieved it in y2 (both times due to illness). Last year she was so upset and eager to achieve full attendance she proceeded to get dressed whilst vomiting on her bed, down the stairs etc. the pressure and feeling of failure is ridiculous. This is an award that mainly requires luck (avoiding term time illness) and not a real reflection of achievement at all IMO.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 21-Apr-13 00:12:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fudgemallowdelight Sun 21-Apr-13 00:24:11

Attendance awards are crap. They reward children for being fortunate enough to be healthy, or perhaps for being sent to school when they have a sickness bug and spreading it around.

They discriminate against diabetics who need to go to the diabetic clinic regularly, so can never get an award, plus children with other chronic medical conditions.

CointreauVersial Sun 21-Apr-13 00:40:46

I understand why several of you are against the idea, but don't let DD2 hear you.

She's currently in Y5, and hasn't missed a single day of school ever. She's holding out for a really big certificate in a year's time.

She know she's lucky to have excellent health, and a mother who cares about getting her to school every day (and doesn't take term-time holidays). But it has taught her that good attendance is important in life, and she is valued for turning up every day. I suppose that counts for something.

well, as someone who had (albeit very healthy) children and where the eldest didn't miss a day of school for 5 years and the only recognition he ever got was a certificate one year that was dated 1996 (he was born in 2000) that was a photocopy and where they didn't even bother to write his name on, I can't help feeling annoyed on his behalf. Especially as he was badly bullied for a long time and I'm sure he didn't always feel like going in.

No-one seems to see an issue when it's pointed out repeatedly that attendance goes hand in hand with performance and that some children are not attending enough. This is in a school where the HT has to ask parents not to give their child the day of for their birthday!

I don't think rewarding for attendance when it isn't in the child's control is necessarily right, but I equally think that children who personally make an effort to attend regularly do deserve some kind of recognition.

....I now don't make the effort to ensure my child has 100% attendance. If they were a wee bit under the weather I would always have suggested that they go in and see how they feel - now I am more inclined to keep them off.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sun 21-Apr-13 01:12:23

I'll tell DS2 not to have a long, drawn out asthma attack during term time, shall I , so that he has a chance of achieving a 100% attendance award? Or tell his Physio to run her clinic after school hours so that he has a chance of achieving a 100% attendance award?

Why should these absences not be discounted, as a reasonable adjustment for his disabilities? Why shouldn't the Equality Act cover my DS2 just because he is a school age child?

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 08:36:57

It is a fecking piece of paper that is produced in Word and sometimes laminated if the teacher could be arsed. Hardly something to get heated up over.

My DCs use to come home with 'certicates' for helping the teacher tidy up or for sitting nicely on the carpet during story time. After the initial excitment my DCs became indifferent to the whole thing.

SunflowersSmile Sun 21-Apr-13 08:51:48

MTSgroupie- as I and others have said - not always just a certificate but extra fun time at school or even a cinema trip out...
Big deal for children.

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 09:00:17

And apparently a big deal for parents as well.

ds3 will never have 100% his appointments fall in school time so he been pu ished for having various medical issues( his school do trips for 100%) which is so unfair they are no exceptions

I'd never thought about this before, probably as my children are rarely off sick and in my DD's first year in Reception she didn't have one day off and got a certificate every term. She's in Year 1 now and has had 2 days off for a sick bug so far and that's it. No one really cares about this scheme though as far as I can tell. No parents boast about their kids attendance and I don't talk about it.

But having read this thread, I'm starting to see it has pros and cons.

They get a pencil and a certificate. Nothing else at my kids School.

I know you didn't ask as such, but YANBU !

I think it's quite a lazy and ill-thought through approach by teachers and heads.

I am not impressed !

Basically because it works, if it does, by making these children feel bad about absences. Children who have either been ill, including with significant health challenges, or who come from more disorganised, disadvantaged homes.

Just how does anyone who has thought about it for a moment think that that is a good idea ? confused

BTW It's not personal, my children have been fortunate enough to receive many of these worthless certificates, and more than that, fortunate enough to enjoy a very healthy childhood.
I was annoyed by a standard letter about absences mind you, at the end of the term when DS had shingles. It mentioned "shopping" hmm

SunflowersSmile Sun 21-Apr-13 09:26:28

There are many children whose parents don't feel it is a big deal and their children not likely to get certificates/ trips out/ games afternoon either.
The discriminatory angle for those with chronic conditions is relevant; especially if prizes big.

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 09:46:13

If prizes are big then I suspect that they don't get handed out like lollipops. If that is the case then 99% of the kids won't get a big prize. So any kid with a chronic condition won't get a big prize along with the other 99%. Why is it discriminatory?

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 09:53:12

Having worked in a school with poor headline attendance (partly due to there being a significant proportion of Traveller children, from families with very little tradition of school attendance at all), my experience of this is that it is something that we 'had to do' to show that we had 'made every possible effort to improve attendance' [as a school pulling it up by its own bootstraps from the borders of Spcial measures to Good, we did everything in every area that we possibly could to plug areas of possible weakness].

The main benefit, for the couple of years that the scheme of half termly certificates ran, was to raise the profile of attendance and the importance of attendance within the school and the community. We had visitors in from both Traveller and settled communities to talk about how school attendance / non-attendance had affected them, revised our approach to following up absences, took one family to court etc etc - it was a whole package of measures of which certificates were the most visible.

Individual certificates now removed in favour of a half termly cup for the class with the best average attendance - an attempt to reduce the focus on individuals (for all the reasons stated above) but to keep the profile of attendance high.

Attendance, btw, still below what is regarded as 'good' - but did improve markedly over the period that the scheme was running, so although many may see such schemes as 'ineffective', raising the profile of attendance DID improve it overall.

teacher

Troouble is as dc get older and they know class thing they become very aware of who is not in school and can aim comments at the dc even when there is genuine reasons

MTs

Because our c have no chance and when teacher say who got the reward and go on about if you come school every day next term then it may be your turn .( said in assembly )

SunflowersSmile Sun 21-Apr-13 10:52:16

Ok, so those with chronic conditions just collateral damage...
Sure they will understand why they never get games afternoon or trip to cinema.
All to the greater good of the school...
Needs to be acknowledgement of disability/chronic condition to gain equality/ level playing field.
Look forward to someone taking this issue further in a school.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 11:09:40

THC - understood. School only went up to age 8 - horses for courses.

SS - our 'rewards' were simply certificates. I would have been very uncomfortable with anything more, as the children were too young to make the decision to go to school without their parents' help. And we were reasonably sophisticated about what we counted as an 'absence', so children with appointments for chronic conditions etc etc did not have these included.

SunflowersSmile Sun 21-Apr-13 11:14:46

Your schools system sounds sensible teacher- not all are...

Another one here who things it's ridiculous. It's setting up children to fail miserably. Most kids don't have a hope in hell of ever winning one. Especially when schools send them home at the slightest cough.

Far better to just award children for achievements. And they can Taylor one for every single child so regardless of how much time missed or how much a child struggled with something, they can still all be rewarded for their hard work, their behaviour, their hand writing, for being helpful or kind, for being a good friend or whatever.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 11:49:24

The thing is, where's my caffeine drip, is that when you can see that a child is working hard and behaving well, but is gradually falling further and further behind because they are constantly absent for minor things (and especially when you can see a pattern of such children in all classes across the school), then as well as rewarding them for the things they do well while present, it does seem sensible to address the root cause of their slow progress, ie the attendance. (Especially as, in our case, there was a gradually spreading issue of 'well, x has time off for their birthday / when it's swimming and they have a slight cold / always has a term-time holiday twice a year and it doesn't seem to matter' amongst both parents and children).

As well as the obvious 'stick' measures directed at adults - and as I say, the LEA took 1 parent to court with our support - a minor 'carrot' for children combined with a focus on the importance of attendance (through visitors, newsletters, case studies etc) to gradually change the 'culture' around it seemed both proportionate and appropriate.

But young children aren't in control of their attendance. If mum and dad can't be bothered to take them then a certificate won't change that. And even if it did short term, as soon as they have a day off sick then they won't get it anyway. Surely there's a danger then of the parents thinking well there's no point now.

If a child is upset or doesn't want to go in a certificate again isn't addressing the reasons behind that. And what about giving them
A job as an incentive. Book monitor for the week or getting the register or handing out the homework etc.

I'm
Not having a go teacher honestly, I know you have to be seen to be doing all you can.and I know you are governed by offsets and all that follow. But unless you address the issues behind the attendance surely it's just sticking a plaster on a broken leg?

Sorry me again smile what if it also works the other way too. In that parents and children get so hung up on it that , they miss out on once in a life time opportunities. Obviously term time days out and holidays aren't ideal. But the prices of holidays in the actual holidays are three times the price. At 4/5/6/7 surely a holiday is as educational as a day in school , it's just a bit sad that a child may never get a holiday ever because they can't pay the peak time prices.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 12:15:03

The issue behind much of our non-attendance was parents and children not understanding the importance of being in school every day.

One of the first ways to change that was to make very visible how important we as a school thought attending every day was - through the high visibility of certificates as well as through displays, newsletters, visitors (although the certificates were for 100% attendance, we did also focus on e.g. improved attendance, attending every day for a week etc for specific children and families). Partner organisations e.g. social services, Traveller outreach workers etc worked on it with us.

Another way was obviously demonstrating what the penalty of not attending every day was - hence the prosecution.

It's not the whole answer, but as a minor but very visible part of an overall approach, we did successfully increase average attendance across all pupil groups.

I'm glad to hear it did improve attendance. But I just think that it would at the same time negatively impact on the rest of the children. I have an asthmatic dd. it's under control at the moment but it has lead to days off in the past. Schools take children with a variety of disabilities conditions etc. some mean regular appointments which can't just be rearranged. Reception children in particular catch everything. What happens about children who have no hope in hell of getting such awards. These things mean alot to children and there's a risk of demoralising them.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 12:31:42

I think if it is 'the only reward available' then yes, there is a risk of becoming deomoralised. However, in an environment where there are plenty of rewards for other things - weekly certificates for progress or attainment, awards for playtime behaviour, 'zone boards' with rewards for reaching particular levels, verbal praise etc etc - then any negative effects can be offset by 'yes, I know, you didn't get a certificate for attendance this term - but you did get one for your maths work and you read your story out in assembly, and the lunchtime supervisors picked you out as a lunchtime star TWICE'...

I have to say I am quite shocked when you say that alot of parents don't realise the importance of school. Having said that its been said on here many times that " they r under five they don't have to be there" perhaps it needs stating in the parents meetings and prospectus from schools that although there are options regarding when your child starts , one they are there they are legally bound to attend.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 12:42:21

WMCD, I stated the particular cutural mix of the school further up the thread - it was, perhaps, unusual, and definitely not a MN school.

So how does it work with regards to religious holidays? As obviously they don't coincide with ours? Does that count against attendance? Sorry if you have already said, I'm on my phone and its been playing up for weeks it takes ages to skip back a page smile

There are a few schools near me where non white british pupils make up a large percentage of the children who attend. One in particular is known for its poor attendance records of these pupils. Must be very hard to address whilst still respecting their cultural beliefs.

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 12:54:02

DD is athletic but not enough to receive a prize. She is academic but not enough to receive a prize. Loads of kids like her go through school without receiving prizes.

If you are pissed off with your DC not getting an attendance prize because of health issues then I reserve the right to be pissed off because my DD is only average sports-wise and academic-wise.

That's exactly how I was mts jack of all trades master of none. I never received any awards. It was stated on a report once that I had managed 100% attendance one year. But I also remember coughing thru entire assemblies when I probably shouldn't have been there hmm god knows how many people I infected.

madhairday Sun 21-Apr-13 13:00:13

I really don't get the argument that there are plenty of other awards around, they won't miss an attendance award.

The other awards around are all for the child's achievement personally, whether through good behaviour, effort, work in music, art, sport, good grades - whatever - all of these things are down to the child - and some are indeed because that child is gifted, but that is still recognition for something the child has done. Attendance awards reward parents and children lucky enough to not get ill. The only message given to children is that life rewards the healthy, and if you are ill (especially with a chronic illness) then you are not worth as much as those who are well.

What kind of self fulfilling prophecy might this lead to?

They may only be a piece of paper, but that piece of paper can represent a world of further hurt to a child who is already coping with a disability/SN. They are unfair and discriminatory and cannot be compared to other awards. Schools should find other ways to increase attendance for those who miss school for poor reasons, or at the least exclude hospital appts etc from attendance award criteria. Even then, it seems most arbitary to not award those who had D&V, for eg, or in ds' case a guitar exam. Yes, he missed the 100% award for going to his guitar exam. Organised through school. hmm Nonsensical things.

radicalsubstitution Sun 21-Apr-13 13:10:34

Let's face it, MNers get very naffed off about all sorts of awards at school.

There's the 'DD hasn't won star of the week even though she's good all the time and is a high achiever. Instead, it goes to a boy for not throwing a chair on Tuesday.'

Then there's the 'DD didn't win the music prize even though she got a distinction in grade 8 piano. Instead, it went to the boy who played the triangle in the nativity play.'

This argument could run and run...

CointreauVersial Sun 21-Apr-13 13:21:38

Radical, I guess it depends whether you want to award attainment or effort....

I think Teacher is talking a lot of sense, and I can totally buy her argument about attendance awards being just a part of raising the profile of the whole issue.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 13:28:28

Madhair, as I said before, we were fairly intelligent about what we counted as 'absence' (hospital appts or music exams wouldn't have counted, for example)

If we had believed that the only reason our children were ever absent from school was genuine illness regarded by everyone as sufficient for them to miss school, then we would never have gone down the 'attendance awards' route - because then, as you say, they are just a reward for being lucky enough not to get ill.

However, it was absolutely clear from our analysis that this was NOT the only reason - birthdays within the family, missing Fridays or Mondays routinely to spend an additional day with a non-resident parent, an increasing number of term-time holidays, very minor illness on e.g. a day which as 1 lesson had PE or swimming [we're talking a minor sniffle, or athlete's foot, for example], sometimes simply failure of the family to get up in the morning. The focus on attendance (certificates being part of this) were an attempt to redress the balance of this somewhat - e.g. one orf our slightly older children, a sporadic attender, took it upon himself to set the alarm and help to get his siblings up.

radicalsubstitution Sun 21-Apr-13 13:31:21

Cointreau, as I have said several times on this thread, attendance awards should not be the only awards issued by a school. As far as I can see it, awards fall into three main categories:

attainment (academic, sporting, musical, attendance etc)
progress (in anything)
effort (in anything - but very hard to judge)

In all of those, apart from effort, some children will be at a natural advantage/disadvantage compared to others. Many of these factors will be due, in large part, to parents. If you only award prizes for musical attainment, children whose parents pay for tuition will be at an enormous advantage.

A good rewards system should enable all children to achieve awards. But not necessarily all of them.

I think I've said this over and over again. I'm bowing out of this thread now.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 13:44:16

(I should also say that I agree they are a blunt instrument - many children who didn't need encouragement to attend got certificates as well as those whose attendance we were aiming to improve, and equally some typically good attenders may have missed out. However, there are significantly worse flaws in a system of certificates designed only to reward 'target poor attenders' for their 'increased attendance'!)

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 13:53:46

At the end of the last academic year the local rag had pictures of the boy and the girl that won the attendaeprize

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 13:57:03

... attendance prize which was a trip to Chessington (the school was in special measures and truancy was a major problem).

So if missing out on a Word 'certificate' and a pencil pisses you off ........

tiggytape Sun 21-Apr-13 14:02:11

A good rewards system should enable all children to achieve awards. But not necessarily all of them.

I disagree
A good rewards system should enable all children the possibility to achieve all awards.

No child should be automatically disqualified from even the smallest possibility of winning any award and especially not on the grounds of having a disability.

glaurung Sun 21-Apr-13 14:07:17

Perhaps the queen should stop sending telegrams to centanarians as it discriminates against those who die younger due to ill health too? Good health is something to celebrate, although I can see that it is a reward in itself too.

tiggytape Sun 21-Apr-13 14:18:23

As an example, attendance bonuses in the workplace have to be very carefully managed to avoid discrimination.
You are not allowed to reward people for not taking sick days unless you make allowances for women on maternity leave (or with pregnancy related illness) and employess with chronic illness or disability - who will naturally have many more days off than others.

It would be completely unlawful to have a reward scheme based on sick leave that does not make allowances for pregnant women and disabled people.
Where such schemes exist, HR must calculate it so that people with disabilities are not in effect barred from getting the bonuses.

As this is a legal duty in the 'real world' it makes sense that it is something all people know is the norm and disabled children understand from an early age that society makes adjustments for them and will continue to do so in adult life.

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 14:29:13

i think they should be scrapped. I've had both my DDs in tears because they've got had one due to hospital appointments, which they have no choice over the time of.

DD2 once begged me not to take her to her very important medical appointment because it meant she wouldn't get her 100% attendance and she would be letting her class down as each class also gets awards for all being in!!

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 14:47:09

Katz, that's just bad management on the part of the school. It is easy to discriminate between different types of absence (there are loads of codes for different reasons for absence, so even the most automated system can be used with sensitivity to discriminate between different types and reasons for absence) - perhaps a case of a need to revise the scheme rather than remove it altogether IF [as in our case] there is a genuine reason to focus on attendance in the short or longer term.

That's interesting tiggy, about workplace reward schemes.

- a good model which schools should follow

- or just scrap the whole thing of course smile

nappyaddict Sun 21-Apr-13 15:14:42

I hate them. It's not fair for children who have medical appointments to attend or who happen to have the bad luck to get ill. It's not like people get ill on purpose and it's the school that have policies on how long you have to stay off before you can return to school. I think it encourages people to send their children to school when they should be at home.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sun 21-Apr-13 15:16:10

MTSGroupie - it IS a problem when my DS2 comes home in tears because there's not one certificate he can achieve.

After I spoke to the school in Y2, when he hasn't got one certificate by that point, they eventually have him a certificate for being 'a good helper'.

That's the only certificate he has a chance of achieving.

He gets upset by it - he can't achieve an academic award because of his development delays. He can't get a sporting award because he has physical disabilities. He can't achieve an attendance award because of his asthma and his medical appointments. All of these get a prize as well as a certificate and they are given out in assembly.

DS2's 'good helper' certificate was given to him in class, no prize, no going up to collect it from the HT in assembly.

It's penalising him for his disabilities when he already has enough to cope with. He feels the difference deeply.

So yeah, some DC's do get upset by it.

auntevil Sun 21-Apr-13 15:22:20

teacher as you can see from the number of posts saying that the system is unfair on legit absences, there are a very high number of poorly managed attendance systems.
Like Katz, me and my DC take attendance really seriously. All have medical issues, 2 have SNs. Last year only 1 had full attendance last year and was rewarded. His DBs had attendance in the high 90% s - all due to medical appointments. Our school copies all appointment letters for their records. Like your school, due to a mixed community, attendance is an issue and there are incentives and sanctions applied to pull up the overall % .
What worries me is the negative effect it can have on attitude of good attenders. Last term, the DS that had 100% attendance last year, had an appointment at a hospital some distance away and had to miss the afternoon. He was really distraught at the thought of not getting the certificate. When they are handed out this year, I know that he will spend time in class in tears, and also at home. He has had no other time off than this one appointment, and his next is in the summer holiday.
It is the inflexibility of how some schools manage the system that can be disablist and what I object to.
I have already had to have the chat about head teachers awards and favouritism when 1 of them asked how child x could have got the award as he is so rude and naughty, I hate having to explain that life is just generally unfair to a 5 year old.

With the current measles outbreak (not (yet) in our area) I have been (re)considering getting the DC's immunised as we didn't get them done when they were younger. The amount of fuss their schools make about attendance is a factor in making it less likely I will do this.
Medical appointments are a good thing for children and should be positively encouraged and supported by schools.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 16:30:43

Auntevil,

I understand that many are mismanaged.

I also don't think that they are necessary in MOST schools - but I hope that I have tried to explain how it can be part of an overall strategy around attendance in ONE PARTICULAR school under particular circumstances.

Perhaps a discussion with your school about their particular reason for choosing this strategy might be a way forward? There may be 'unseen by some' pockets of low attendance which this strategy has been designed to address [or it might just be badly thought out and appallingly implemented, that is quite possible too!]

KatyDid02 Sun 21-Apr-13 16:37:56

Schools should forget certificates for turning up IMO. Far better to issue certificates for achievement and for effort - all children can have a go at winning a certificate for effort if they want to.

Taffeta Sun 21-Apr-13 16:56:04

Our school does it and it's bollocks.

Surely it encourages parents to send in a child who is sick? Eg not wait the required 48 hours if D and V etc.

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 17:13:43

It's not the (mis)management if these schemes which make them wrong. It's their very premise.

"The thing is, where's my caffeine drip, is that when you can see that a child is working hard and behaving well, but is gradually falling further and further behind because they are constantly absent for minor things (and especially when you can see a pattern of such children in all classes across the school), then as well as rewarding them for the things they do well while present, it does seem sensible to address the root cause of their slow progress, ie the attendance."

I'm an advisory teacher for children in care. Many of the children I work with experience attendance difficulties such as teacherwith2kids describes above; however, the root cause of attendance problems, if not due to a disability or medical condition, is always the parents. This is evidenced in the attendance figures of Looked After Children which improve dramatically once they are removed from abusive or neglectful homes and placed in foster care. What exactly is it that these children have done which needs rewarding?

Primary aged children are never in control of their attendance. Addressing attendance problems is not in itself a bad thing, but they need to be addressed with those with the power to change them- the parents.

Attendance awards are simply rewards for (aspects of) good parenting. They are at best ineffective, and at worst discriminatory and harmful.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 18:10:16

Tethersend, to a large degree I agree with you.

However, I would turn the question round and ask, if Ofsted is going to hold schools responsible for attendance (which it does), then what is a good and effective mechanism via which schools can do so?

Of course, in some cases there can be referral to the legal or care services, or to support services for particular groups as Tethersend describes, and then rapid identification of patterns of absence can inform such referrals.

However, in many cases the situation is not sufficiently serious to warrant referral. In a situation in which Ofsted will downgrade schools based simply on low attendance (as well as on the lower progress which is its inevitable consequence), what would you recommend that schools can do?

BoffinMum Sun 21-Apr-13 18:37:47

You're fucked if you're disabled and have a lot of hospital appointments, then.

Class awards are fine, but individual?

JennyFromTheB0g Sun 21-Apr-13 18:43:15

Good attendance should be encouraged and rewarded. Parents saying it's not fair are being reeeeeeeeediculous. If your child was absent then they didn't have full attendance. Other children may get better reports than mine because they are cleverer, but I won't be striding in to the school complaining that that's not fair. And as somebody sensible said further up the thread, if your child is seriously ill the least of your worries would be missing out on a laminated certificate and a £5 book token. So relax.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 18:45:49

But why should good attendance in a primary school aged child be rewarded. They are not doing anything in order to achieve it. They just happen to have either good health or parents who send them to school ill. The former is just good luck, no achievement as such as they have done nothing to work to make that so. The latter is bad parenting.

JennyFromTheB0g Sun 21-Apr-13 18:50:58

It should be rewarded because it's better to feel that high attendance is what you're striving for. Later in life, I was far less likely than my colleagues to phone it in. My mother valued high attendance. We weren't forced to go to school if we were sick, but missing school wasn't done lightly and that is a good attitude to carry forward when it comes to work, and not letting people down.

If your child doesn't win an attendance award, so be it. They might win somethin else, or they might not, they probably won't be distraught about it, especially if their mum is at home filling their head with notions about how unreasonable an award it was hmm confused

If a child makes it in to school every single school day of the year, that is commendable whether or not that child is your child.

My son has missed a few days from one thing and another so he won't be getting any attendance award this year, but I'll admire the attitude of the kids and parents who win it.

Don't let it bother you! I can't believe people feel aggrieved over it. Mystifying.

teacherwith2kids Sun 21-Apr-13 18:56:11

Boffin, in the scheme we used - and as I say the school has now moved to a class-based scheme to 'keep attendance reaonsably high on the agenda' while realising that the initial hard push can't (and doesn't need to be) sustained - then

- Hospital and other appointments where appointments are not under the control of the patient e.g. those for chronic conditions
- Music / dance / drama type exams
- Any appointments recommended by the school e.g. optician, opthalmologist, hearing tests, doctor's visit after an accident
- Religious observance
etc etc
were not counted as 'absence' for award purposes.

What did was
- Holiday (we were in an LEA where no holiday was authorised)
- Unauthorised / unexplained absence
- Illness, unless connected to a known chronic condition / disability

I suspect that the latter would seem to many on MN to be deeply unfair. I think perhaps it would surprise and shock many how spurious the claims of 'illness' are for many school absences (and how they fall apart on the slightest questioning of the child ' 'Are you better, Johnny' 'Oh no, miss, I wasn't ill. My mum slept in / We went to the fair / it was my sister's birthday / My nan was down visiting ....so we didn't come to school). I have had a child kept off school (and this is in the juniors) for 'a bit tired', 'has a sore foot', 'has a runny nose', 'his sister has a bit of a chill so I kept him off in case he got it too'.

Of course the opposite happens too - children sent in with very high temperatures, with still-ongoing D&V, or with chest infections - but parents do vary wildly in what they consider 'too ill for school' and schools have to pick their way carefully through it!

Viviennemary Sun 21-Apr-13 19:01:31

I thought they were quite fair and a way of motivating children then on MN they don't seem popular so I thought perhaps not. But on the other hand a lot of children won't win a sports prize, or a singing prize through no fault of their own. So on the whole I think they are a good idea. Unless people want to stop any kind of award altogether. Because perhaps all awards have a degree of unfairness.

tiggytape Sun 21-Apr-13 19:08:04

The reason they are disputed is some children have zero chance of winning one. Not a small chance but no chance at all.
If a child is bad at sport they probably won't win a sports day prize but they might get lucky and throw the bean bag the furthest by fluke. Their chances are small but a chance exists.

A child with a disability will know 12 months in advance that they have zero chance of winning an attendance award because they know every month between now and April 2014, they have to see their consultant in school time (no choice on times).

Given that this type of discrimination is completely unlawful in the workplace, it is mind boggling that schools quite cheerfully implement such schemes. I am glad our school make the adjustments that they have to for disabled children. I am glad other parents challenge it in schools that don't.

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 19:26:27

Jenny - you've obviously never had a young child in tears about seeing her consultant (she sees 3 different ones) because it means they won't get 100% attendance. Her clinics which we have no control over are mostly mornings no way round this. Where possible we try to book apt for the school holidays but that's not always possible. She needs to have her condition monitored. Why should she be penalised for this?

Her school don't differentiate between types of absence. I'm debating raising this with the governors/head but then I can see their argument for keeping the status quo.

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 19:28:49

Teacherwith2kids, I don't think that Ofsted's focus on attendance above all else should be accepted without question- however, given its current importance, I would suggest that any scheme, whether of rewards or punishments, is targeted solely at parents. Some schools fine parents for poor attendance. Some run outreach projects to engage parents and impress the importance of attendance. Rewarding children is a lazy and ill thought out strategy which is quite often in direct contravention of the Equality Act.

Jenny, I think it's important to realise that not all of the objections to attendance awards are because of sour grapes. DD1 has had two attendance certificates this year. She's four. That's mystifying.

JennyFromTheB0g Sun 21-Apr-13 19:35:56

Katz, I've had a dc who four years in a row never won a prize, of any description. She clapped and cheered for her friends who had won them though.

Only about two or three children IF THAT get full attendance. So, it's not as though every chlid gets a cheer and a book token except for your child, so why a child would cry over not getting full attendance is beyond me. She must be picking up on your anger over something you perceive to be unfair. But it's not unfair. I bet that if your child was the best at maths you wouldn't be saying it#s not fair to the children who would cry because there are children in the class who are better at maths.

And did you not read what I said, if my child was seriously ill, the prize for attendance would be the last thing on my mind. My dc2 certainly won't be getting it, he's missed three days, so he's in the same boat as your child who has missed a lot more days.

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 19:38:27

Statistically, children do best when:

They are Asian
They are female
Their parents earn enough to make them in eligible for free school meals

Which of these things should we encourage by rewarding children who achieve them with certificates?

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 19:39:36

People aren't saying attendance awards are not fair because their children are upset.

They're saying they're unfair because they're unfair.

NotGoodEnoughEitherWay Sun 21-Apr-13 19:39:47

I'm a teacher. At our school, individual attendance is "rewarded" but in a very low key way; A6 certificates that are slipped into trays/bookbags at the end of each half term. This was only started in response to several parents complaining that their children had achieved 100% attendance all year and had received no recognition. I have opinions on this that I don't think need to be shared here. What I would like to point out is the 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation that we found ourselves in. But hey, that's nothing new when you're a teacher.

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 19:40:58

Jenny - maybe that's thd big difference if only a couple of kids get it, in both DDs class it around half if not more. So it's a big deal to be the one letting your class down, as the class with most children getting 100% is top dog.

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 19:43:55

And the upset isn't from me. I quiet happily tell them I think the scheme is unfair and meaningless.

JennyFromTheB0g Sun 21-Apr-13 19:46:48

Well, like the teacher a few posts back said, it's a low key thing, recognition, barely - because of parents complaining.

Find something sensible to worry about.

Talkinpeace Sun 21-Apr-13 19:48:01

At DCs school one of the kids who DID get the 100 % certificate every term (as her mum worked full time) knackered up everybody else's chances by being in school with a tummy bug : mummy was too busy to collect her.
I has a few issues with that.

BoffinMum Sun 21-Apr-13 19:51:13

At the school where I am governor we have a poster with a racecourse and little racehorses on it, one for each class. The racehorses move along throughout each half term so the children can see how their class is doing in attendance terms compared to the other classes. The winning class gets a small prize, such as a bit more playtime. That's all that's needed to push attendance up, tbh.

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 19:51:30

Jenny - I'm not overly worried about it, the thread is about opinions on attendance certificates. I've added my opinions and experiences. I'm pretty certain if I ranted about say the state if the NHS and how long my DH is having to weight for cardiac surgery then the OP might just be a little taken aback. Sorry I bothered to add my thoughts.

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 19:51:36

If there's barely any recognition for attendance, what's the point?

Jenny, why on earth would you think that it's not sensible to be concerned about children's educational achievement and the way it is stimulated?

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 19:54:22

Boffinmum, I'm not a fan of those schemes either, TBH- they tend to (further) alienate children from chaotic homes from their peers, and can be counter productive as the child feels the other children's resentment for their poor attendance.

Far more effective to work with the parents, IMO.

tiggytape Sun 21-Apr-13 19:55:42

Jenny - Most children with disabilities are not 'seriously ill'
They have to go to hospital to have their condition monitored. Or they have regular appointments for physio or tests, checks and therapy.
These appointments mean they have no chance (not a low chance) of full attendance.

It isn't fair that children with a disability start school in September knowing they have no hope of a prize. They are set apart enough as it is and their time off is hardly enjoyable (painful or boring generally)

As I have said such discrimination would not be tolerated in any other part of society - not even competitive workplaces - so why should schools do this?

And as for the chance to win other prizes What primary school has an actual 'best at maths' prize? (maybe yours does?).

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 19:55:53

and for information it isn't a 'barely recognised thing in my DDs school its a whole school assembly where names are read out and certificates given out - a big deal.

Stepping away now

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 19:56:03

Katz - you said that around a half of the kids don't have 100% attendance. You then go on about it being a big deal being the one that lets the class down.

If 15 out of 30 kids don't have 100% attendance why is one particular child going to be singled out?

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 19:56:55

JennyFromTheB0g - if they are so pointless and nothing for children to worry over - well, why not scrap them altogether? What's the point of having a reward scheme if it is worthless and we are to tell various groups of children not to consider them as important?

tiggytape Sun 21-Apr-13 19:57:18

Katz - sorry x posted. And sorry to hear your DD is having to wait so long for surgery.

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 19:57:54

and for your information Jenny - one of the reasons i haven't raised it is because i have a hell of a lot on my plate at the moment, and a hell of a lot to be worried about for more than attendance certificates. Your comment 'Find something sensible to worry about.' has really upset me.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 19:58:59

In every school I know of with these schemes the certificates/rewards are handed out in an assembly with names called out, etc. They are made a deal of - which is why individual children who know they have no chance of ever receiving them may feel they are letting their class down.

JennyFromTheB0g Sun 21-Apr-13 20:01:40

tethersend, you're putting words in my mouth. I never said it's not sensible to be concerned about children's educational achievement and the way it is stimulated confused . ARe you confusing me with another poster?

Basically people need to keep it in perspective. The fewer days of school missed the better so obviously hats off to people who go a whole year without missing a day as it's not easyy. My kids won't be winning the pencil or whatever it is.

any child that cries because they didn't win the attendance prize must be picking up on parent's stress over it.

I never win anything, i wouldn't win anythin if I were the only bloody entrant, and full attendance was one of the few things I had a chance of getting when I was at school. Not that I got it every year, far from it, I might have got it once or twice. But apparently that is not fair confused Prizes for being good at maths, art, music etc, prizes I would never have had a CHANCE of winning, that's different...

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:01:40

No one on here have yet to give me any arguement which convinces me how these schemes benefit children of primary school age.

These children are too young to be able to determine whether they go to school or now. They don't make the choice. So they are doing absolutely NOTHING that needs rewarding.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:03:53

"any child that cries because they didn't win the attendance prize must be picking up on parent's stress over it. "

Nonsense! A child is capable of picking up on the fuss the schools make about them, and seeing their friends with rewards and certificates and know that they will never be able to achieve it.

If we really do have to insist on having such rewards maybe the certificates should be posted out straight to home and individual children not having their names called out and standing up in assembly?

fishoils Sun 21-Apr-13 20:06:52

I tell DS they're a load of old rubbish and not to be a tiny bit bothered about them.

He has a medical condition and has to be off for appointments. I think it is wrong to penalise him for this - but they do.

JennyFromTheB0g Sun 21-Apr-13 20:07:16

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

tiggytape Sun 21-Apr-13 20:10:11

Exactly Hulababy.

All the people who say - "what's the big deal, plenty of children don't win one" obviously don't understand what it is like for a child who already feels different and has problems that they may never overcome.

This is yet another thing they can never be part of.
Something they can never win or be involved in.
Something that celebrates a goal they can never reach purely because of a medical condition or illness that already (probably) makes aspects of their life really miserable and frustrating
It is just yet another thing that upsets the child and that the parents have to reassure them about and deal with

And if the law and rest of society recognises this and treats disabled adults with greater understanding and a reasonable attitude that makes allowances for time off due to disability, then you'd hope other people (and especially other parents) could understand the need to treat disabled children with the same consideration.

I'm stepping away from this now too. I hope it is just a case that people not living with it don't 'get' what a big deal it might be that makes them dismiss very real upset for others.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:10:25

Jenny How disrespectful! Katz has already explained what her family are going through and the worry over her DH's medical condition and his upcoming heart operation. Of course she has far more things to worry about. However, having someone on here have a dig over and over, is hardly pleasant - even without the background it is upsetting to have someone keeping telling you that you are upsetting your children, which she is not by the way, let alone with other stuff going on!

It is NOT okay to penalise children for something they have no control over.

And it is not a good idea, imo, to reward children for something they have no control over.

tiggytape Sun 21-Apr-13 20:12:43

Jenny - your comments to Katz are spiteful and uncalled for.
And I really am going now before I say something I don't regret at all

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:13:24

And it is NEVER just 2 or 3 children in my school; always several.

SunflowersSmile Sun 21-Apr-13 20:13:40

This thread is going round in circles!!
Some schools have big prizes/ afternoon play/ trips out. Much more than a pencil with a rubber.
Those posters that talk about schools with sensible policies that acknowledge consultant appointments and such like as not to be penalised for seems way to go for me.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:13:54

I have reported the comment - an unnecessary spiteful and unpleasant response to another poster.

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 20:14:02

No Jennie what upset me was your comment 'Find something sensible to worry about.' - you don't know me or know whats going on in my life (which actually is hugely stressful at the moment and i have a hell of a lot to worry). i'm not hugely worried about attendance certificates but thats what the thread is about, sorry I bothered now.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:17:58

Katz - this thread shows that most people don't believe in penalising children. Ignore those that cannot express their views, even if they are opposite views, in a non aggressive way.

madhairday Sun 21-Apr-13 20:19:31

any child that cries because they didn't win the attendance prize must be picking up on parent's stress over it

Tell that to my dd who was pushed over and generally bullied because she lost her class the cup of the week many, many times. That's what class attendance awards do.

And add that to the fact that she knows she can never get one of these certificates. A piece of meaningless paper, possibly, but with a deeper meaning than you are managing to comprehend. Another reminder of being different, of not being as 'good' or as 'normal' as the others. We are not worrying about something needlessly or of no importance, in fact we are fighting discrimination that, as pps have pointed out, would never happen in the world of work.

Is it that difficult to understand?

Katz, I'm so sorry for all you are facing. Take no notice of ignorant posts.

JennyFromTheB0g Sun 21-Apr-13 20:27:26

Hulababy, I think that telling somebody who holds a different view from your own that they have made you cry is manipulative and passive aggressive. Yes, I disagree with Katz on this issue. That doesn't make me aggressive and it doesn't make me ignorant either.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sun 21-Apr-13 20:29:55

And I'm not the kind of parent that keeps them off school for a sniffle either - my motto is unless there's blood, very recently broken bones, a temperature worthy of a GP appointment or D&V within the last 48 hours, they are going to school.

But I can't help DS2's asthma, which leaves him so weak that he can't get off the chair, meaning I have to arrange for someone else to take DS1 to school, and I can't help the fact that his medical appointments are during school time.

WTF else should I do?

I don't make a big deal of the certificates, but if his brother is bringing them home because he doesn't have those disabilities then he can see first hand that it is purely because if his disabilities that he is unable to get that certificate.

Which just shows that it is inherently unfair, as he IS being penalised for having disabilities.

So yes, that does upset him, even though I don't make a huge fuss over it.

I keep my thoughts on attendance certificates away from him - but on a thread like this, that he isn't going to read, I CAN point out that they are inherently unfair, penalise him because of his disabilities, and are very divisive.

They get a class award for the best attendance. His class never wins, and he has been picked on because his class KNOW it is him that has brought the class percentage down.

So it encourages bullying for something that he just cannot help or change.

Just unfair.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:32:20

I disagree Jenny. Your comment was uncalled for, as pointed out not just by myself but also two other people. Unnecessary and uncalled for attack on a poster who has already posted on other worries happening.

But yes, you are fine to disagree with me on this. I am also allowed to disagree with your view on that point.

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 20:32:55

"tethersend, you're putting words in my mouth. I never said it's not sensible to be concerned about children's educational achievement and the way it is stimulated . ARe you confusing me with another poster?"

I must have, Jennie. I thought I was addressing a poster who knew why attendance awards were purported to be given.

Or did you think that schools just want better attendance to keep children off the streets?

The fact, or, if you like 'the bottom line' is that, statistically, children with poor attendance have lower educational achievement than those with higher attendance. My assertion is that, once those with medical conditions and disabilities are factored out, this difference in achievement is wholly due to parenting at primary school level, and that to focus on attendance is to focus on a symptom rather than the cause.

What do you think? Or do you perhaps have something more sensible to worry about?

JennyFromTheB0g Sun 21-Apr-13 20:34:54

Bullying is a separate issue! Sure the child that wins the best attendance could be bullied. Bullies don't consider what's a worthy reason to perpetrate a bit of bullying.

I don't force my children to go to school when they're sick btw. Just have a little bit of perspective, shrug over it, and your kids will too.

yup my son been called names as kid sin his class say they will never win due to ds3 attendance and since that will not improve ever then .I shall be demanding school rethink or i shall be yelling discrimination very loudly

jenny

but this sort of bullying has come because school putting pressure on dc knowing that they will use peer pressure to .bit like schools know reminding dc about rubbish goes in bin they will correct parents

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:38:57

Those who feel it is okay to have these awards...

WHY should we reward primary school aged children for their school attendance when it is something most primary school aged children have NO control over at all?

Or, as asked but no reply...

If they are so pointless and nothing for children to worry over why not scrap them altogether? What's the point of having a reward scheme if it is worthless and we are to tell various groups of children not to consider them as important?

radicalsubstitution Sun 21-Apr-13 20:41:34

Right, I know I said that I was stepping out of this one, but I just had one or two things to say:

tiggytape I fully get the disablist bit. As a disabled person, I probably get that more than most. Every establishment needs to make 'reasonable adjustments' for people with disabilities. That may mean 'discounting' consultants appointments. DD has to see consultants once per year and the dates of clinics are incredibly inflexible. Schools need to be flexible. But there are parents who 'milk it'. I know of one parent whose DC has to attend a clinic once per year (a very regular and flexible one). This is not for a disability (although she would say it was). She deliberately makes the appointment during the school day so she doesn't have to take her other children (she would have to during holidays).

As tethersend rightly says, her decision affects her DD's attendance. Not great, when the DD doesn't get the 'award'.

tiggytape having done extensive research as a disabled teacher and governor, I have discovered one important fact. Although disabled workers have a right to time off due to long term conditions (or those of their close associates) organisations can legally make the employee take this as unpaid. Workplaces are not always so sympathetic towards disabled people - I had one hell of a job just trying to keep a job that I had held for 7 years when I developed a disability.

Katz DD had heart surgery two years' ago (to the day). It happened to come at a time that I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disorder, most of DH's team were made redundant and my DS' nursery closed down (mid year). I absolutely get what you are going through. It is bloody awful. The thing that kept me going was the thought that there would come a point in my life when things weren't completely shit any more. I lived like a zombie for four months.

I don't know what the 'ideal' school rewards system looks like. It has to be equitable and, from what I can see, many systems aren't.

The end.

JennyFromTheB0g Sun 21-Apr-13 20:44:42

Hulababy, are there any awards you feel are ok? Or are all awards wrong on the grounds that some children have no chance of winning them?

We should (imo) reward attendance whether or not it is driven by the children because some parents are too laissez-faire about missing school for no reason. It encourages a good general attitude. But children shouldn't cry because they don't win a pencil with a rubber on top. If that happens there are other issues going on. You don't have to take it personally. It's not an attack on your child. whydo you see it like that? confused

My children won't be winning these certificates either by the way.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:47:55

No, I agree with many awards - when the children have to actually do something in order to achieve them.

Academic awards - fine, as children have to something to achieve it
Effort awards - fine, as children have to something to achieve it
Sport awards - fine, as children have to something to achieve it
Music awards - fine, as children have to something to achieve it
Drama awards - fine, as children have to something to achieve it
etc.

All fine as children have to something to achieve it

Attendance award - imo not fine, as the children are not responsible for whether they can go to school or not.

incywincyspideragain Sun 21-Apr-13 20:49:23

These threads come up again and again

100% attendance is a crap way to asess a child - getting ill is just bad luck and we should be encouraging children (and then working adults) to take time off when need be rather than bringing their (for example) sickness /diaorrhea or flu into school/a place of work.

The target is only there because its an ofsted target - teachers are victim of that.

something around 96% would be more realistic.

If a child has to miss school due to treatment or clinics then this should be authorised absence and not count - otherwise its discrimination - for example the ENT clinic out our local hospital is 11am-3pm - we have no other option, school do not penalise our children for this anymore if yours do you should address this with them as tiggytape said

The only thing I do respect the 100% attendance award for is its clear definition - you know exactly why a child gets them - every other reward and recognition scheme in our school is arbitary and lacks any kind of clarity. If I worked for an employer who changed the 'rule set' every year and, when I asked, couldn't explain what made someone get an award over another I would be seriously questioning it... it appears Schools think they are exempt from this, I don't actually believe that every child should get an award in something but they should be able to explore why, my ds (6 now) has asked why he doesn't get particular awards (I was there) he didn't get an answer I understood so how he is meant to make sense of it I don't know!

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:50:59

Oh - and ime, from working in schools, primary and secondary, for past 17 years attendance awards do not make lassiez faire parents bring their children to school on the whole. That comes from individual intervention between parent and school to discuss what is going wrong and how it can move forward, I have been involved in such a case this term, although pretty much from the outside this time. Things are improving but it has absolutely nothing to do with any piece of paper or reward system linked to attendance.

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 20:52:50

Katz - you said that around a half of the kids don't have 100% attendance. You then go on about it being a big deal being the one that lets the class down.

If 15 out of 30 kids don't have 100% attendance why is one particular child going to be singled out?

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:55:00

BTW I do not have a child with any medical condition or special needs. My DD has had the certificate some years and not others. Her school is one of the schools who play them down anyway and there is currently talk of scrapping them altogether as they have no benefit within their school. DD doesn't always get one because she has a normal child's constitution - sometimes she gets bugs that mean she cannot go to school, sometimes she has an injury which means she cannot go to school. That's normal life.

But just because me and my DD are not negatively affected by such reward schemes does not mean that I don't sympathise with those who are - and that is why I feel they are not a worthwhile reward scheme and why I do not agree with their place in schools.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:57:00

TS - ime it is often the child himself who feels the weight of the blame anyway, so they feel bad regardless as they know they cannot always be there. But also children are not daft - they know if someone in their class is often missing school or who have never received the reward.

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 20:58:15

DD's school attendance rewards are not for 100% btw, they are for excellent attendance. I still don;t agree with them, but at least they are open to interpretation and can take into account special circumstances.

Jellykitten1 Sun 21-Apr-13 21:13:17

Jenny I don't think that rewarding attendance would actually change the attitude of the laissez-faire parents you mention who miss school for no good reason. I doubt very much those type of parents will suddenly improve their childs' attendance, driven by the desire to win an attendance award.

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 21:14:49

My nephew-in-law (yes I know that there is no such title) lacks coordination so no sports awards for him. He has learning difficulties so no academic awards for him. Because of the above, he is very shy and quiet so no drama awards for him. One thing he does have is 100% attendance. No pens, no trips. Just a certificate presented to him in morning assembly. That has pride of place on the wall near the front door.

In his case if it wasn't for his attendance certificates he would have nothing. So my SIL is a fan of the scheme.

No matter what the policy is, someone wins and someone losses. Posters here are just pissed off that they fall into the lose column. My SIL fall into the win column because otherwise her DS would win nothing

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 21:20:32

"Posters here are just pissed off that they fall into the lose column"

That's simply not true. DD 'wins' them. Yet, inexplicably, I still want to see these awards abolished. Can you think why that might be?

Jellykitten1 Sun 21-Apr-13 21:36:03

MTSgroupie it's a shame that there is nothing at the school that can recognise any of your nephew's personal skills, especially in the light of his learning disabilities and shyness. Great listener? The best at sharing? Kindest in class? Things that don't rely on academic ability or things like drama or sports skills, but are still valuable. I bet that would be even more meaningful to him (and your SIL) than attendance awards.

auntevil Sun 21-Apr-13 22:02:46

Sorry teacher only just read your question.
I did bring up the unfairness of counting essential consultant appointments as absences, with management. They shrugged it off, and unless I want to make formal complaints, it will continue.
It was DS himself who noticed that he had been bypassed for a certificate. He couldn't work out why he had been at school everyday, (but missed a registration, but was back during the first lesson,) and didn't get a certificate. To him, he had been there 100%. Of course I had to explain that the system wasn't fair, but that I would speak to the school about it, which I did.
This is just 1 of many systems within school that can put already disadvantaged children at more of a disadvantage. This is why parents of children with SN or SEN complain. I think that most of us think that if as parents we keep challenging systems that have not been thoroughly thought through ( unlike the system at teacher's school), that eventually we will make a difference. I live in hope!

Hulababy Sun 21-Apr-13 22:06:13

As said before my dd doesn't 'lose' them. She's had them along with other certificates for actual worthwhile things.

It's not for my sake or my dd's sake I disagree with then. I disagree with them as they are inherently unfair and the children who receive them have not actually done anything themselves to warrant them.

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 22:09:47

Jelly - why would an award for 'great listening', for example, be more meaningful?

To him it is a great achievement. Only a handful of kids have 100% attendance while lots have certificates for being polite or helpful or sitting quietly on the carpet or ... or...

Many of the posters here think that attendance awards discriminate against those with health problems. As a poster said upthread, that's like saying that the letter from the Queen on your 100th birthday discriminates against those who aren't blessed with luck or good genes.

In my SILs case the only significant award her non sporty and non academic DS gets is the attendance one. I don't doubt that for every parent who thinks that this attendance award thing is unfair on their DC there is another like my SIL who thinks it's great idea

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 22:14:24

Hulababy - it's a piece of paper that the teacher knocks up on Word. Sometimes, if the teacher can be arsed, it's laminated. Sorry but I can't get too worked up over how children shouldn't be awarded them because they haven't done anything themselves to warrant them.

hate them, completey unfair to children with medical needs

also its a stupid as giving kids awards for having say brown eyes, its not something the children have any control over
and its unfair to treat them as if they do

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 22:31:17

MTSgroupie- how will your SIL feel about the awards when her DS gets chickenpox or the norovirus and doesn't get one?

radical - I hardly think it's "milking it" to make a once a year medical appt. during school hours in order to not have to take other children along with you to appointment. Seems a perfectly reasonable decision to me.
I've done the same with some dental appointments thinking is easier to take just one child to their appt. for example at the end of the afternoon before picking other up from school. Not all appts can be squeezed into holidays for everyone after all.

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 22:41:47

My workmate's DC has some kind of brittle bones condition which stops him from taking part in sports. Sports awards should be banned because it is unfair to kids with similar conditions or fat kids or kids with two left feet.

My nephew has learning difficulties so let's do away with academic awards.

A friends DD has an ear problem so he can't go swimming. So lets do away with the old bronze, silver, gold awards.

Do you people realise how silly you sound? No? I didn't think so.

Anyway, I can't believe that I spend all day going on about a piece of paper that the kids would leave at the bottom of their school bag until I cleaned out the bag at term end. I'm done with the thread <reaches for HIDE button>

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 22:45:26

tether - final post on the subject. Like I said, I would only discover their certificates when I cleared out their bags at the end of the term. That is how much importance they attached to these 'awards'.

Fudgemallowdelight Sun 21-Apr-13 22:48:39

Did the hide button not work MTS?

shufflehopstep Sun 21-Apr-13 22:51:39

I'm not sure what the problem is. I remember having them when I was at primary school in the 1980s! You got ones for the end of term and then ones of a different colour at the end of the year. A handful of people also got them before thy left for never having missed a day in the whole 7 years they were there. This was in the days when parents were allowed to take their children out for holidays and things so plenty of people didn't get them. It was a bit of fun and certainly didn't foster "feelings of failure and resentment among the class". There were plenty of other things like a weekly merit badge (you got to wear a badge for the week if you'd demonstrated a particular positive attribute like punctuality, neatness, kindness, etc.). I don't think it's that big a deal and you'd lose your job in the adult world if you started taking days off whenever you felt like it.

It appears it means more to the children not getting them than the ones that do ... surely an indication that there's something wrong here ? Indeed that is the teacher's intention isn't it ? - to send some sort of message to the children who've been absent and even more to their parents.
No other award is so complicated ... most are much more straight-forward praise for good work and/or effort and/or good behaviour.

duchesse Sun 21-Apr-13 23:03:15

Harnessing pester power in slightly disfunctional families could be a very good move.

However if a child has genuine long-term health problems (like my friend's daughter who has Crohn's and has weeks off school/in hospital at a time) then it's going to unerringly crap for them never to get a good attendance award. Would have to go with bravery awards or somesuch for children with genuine medical reasons for poor attendance.

boomting Sun 21-Apr-13 23:21:19

I fail to see how this is any different to school sport (and in particular, sports day).

At school, I was always the short one (completely outside my control and it meant short legs, so less running ability) with no real athletic talent. So I perpetually came last, never won sports prizes and was the cause of my team losing a game on more than one occasion. It also made me hate competitive sport.

Is it really that different to having a health condition that is outside your control and results in a lack of ability to get 100% attendance, failure to win prizes and causing your class to lose the attendance prize?

No. But I don't remember (or for that matter, see now) anyone seriously claiming that school sports should be altered (or even cancelled) so that the likes of me are not upset.

expansivegirth Sun 21-Apr-13 23:28:02

The main thing to take away from this discussion, I feel is:

Whether or not you think attendance awards are a good idea the Equality Commission has said it is discriminatory to dock children's attendance if they have a disability (please see TiggyTapes post upthread around page 3 or 4 i think). EVERYONE on this thread with a child in this position - a disability or a chronic health problem - should be following this up, printing out this advice, and taking it to their headteacher. And, if they feel so inclined, then sending it on to their local authority so that the local authority can start implementing a fairer programme At least this is a start towards fairness.

If anyone has it I would also like to see the evidence that attendance awards have a positive impact on attendance. Does this evidence exist and if so can anyone point me towards it.
Furthermore, even if it does have an impact on overall attendance does it have an impact on the attendance of those people who are most at risk from the negative effects of absenteeism ie those parents who allow their child to be persistantly absent because they can't be bothered/don't prioritise school/are drunk in bed? These are presumably the people for whom a correlation between absenteeism and poor educational outcomes later in life hold. For a child with educated motivated parents, the odd duvet day/an opticians appointment/a week long trip to visit a relative overseas is going to have zero long term impact - and in many cases the days off will probably be of educational benefit. In the 70s it was somehow permissable to say there was value to experience that could be has beyond the school gates: my primary school head was delighted when my cousins, age nine and ten were pulled out of school to go and live in an ashram in India for six months - and even held the school places open for them (as was permissable then).

expansivegirth Sun 21-Apr-13 23:30:19

sorry for typos/grammar/repetition etc

Not at all expansive, and I think has been a very interesting thread you've started. You saw it made discussions of the day ?

Haven't read all of this, but I've often wondered about the discrimination aspect - very useful to see the advice. I'll think about how to bring it up with the school.

Also recently when I was called by the school to pick DS up because he was unwell I said I couldn't because he wouldn't get his attendance award. The secretary and I laughed about it and I did pick him up, of course, but I'm planning to make the point every time I'm called grin

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 22-Apr-13 01:31:35

But MTSGroupie - what if you SIL's son fell into the won't win ANYTHING category - not able to win any of the other awards AND not able to win an attendance award either?

Would she be so happy then?

Would she be happy with her son coming home for 3 years, every Friday, from assembly, getting more and more despondent that he is literally the ONLY child in the class to not have won a single certificate in that whole time?

If he got to the point where he was sobbing on the bus home because his Dbro had got an award for 100% attendance that he had no hope if ever achieving?

Or seeing his own Dbro win a Maths certificate? And numerous sports certificates? And a literacy certificate? And swimming certificates? And certificates for every god damned thing that he could never hope to achieve, whilst the things HE is good at like History and Geography and the Natural World were never certificated for?

It IS divisive, and I say this as a parent if one DC that wins every certificate going, and another with disabilities that has had just one, not given out in the same way (so DS2 knew it was only because I had complained) in almost 5 years at the school.

I am both a 'winner' and a 'loser' of this arbitrary system - yet I see it as divisive and unfair.

Giving out certificates and prizes for attendance is like trying to use a banana to crack a nut - it doesn't address any of the root causes if persistent non-attendance that is NOT for genuine reasons, because if the parents don't care enough to get their DC's to school, then they aren't going to give a crap that Dwayne didn't get a certificate, are they?! What it does do is penalise those who are genuinely ill, or are having time off for a chronic condition, a disability, or for medical appointments.

If a certificate was going to make my DS2's disabilities and chronic asthma disappear so that he could get 100% attendance, I'd happily have the certificate.

But that's not RL.

Excellent post Couthy. I hope some teachers and schools are reading this, or at least enough parents to begin to look at the issues around these bloody things a bit more carefully.

Hi op, i made a very similar thread to this as my child's academy is doing the same and worse. They are even allowing non-uniform days for those that achieve 100 percent attendance each term. All well and good, but if your dc are off ill with norovirus etc etc, i cant see what is right with singling out primary school children!!!

The ones who are left out, it only punishes the child-not the parent!

And yes, certificates for History, Geography, and the Natural World would be nice I agree. We (DC) might win some of those too !
Generally there isn't enough praise and encouragement for the less able I feel - those that could really do with some.
Though of course, as has been said here by many, attendance isn't something a primary child can take responsibility for, it's the parents responsibility.
If you're healthy, enjoy school, and are doing well then there's loads of encouragement ! Not fair at all - every child deserves an equally good, and equally encouraging education.

BoffinMum Mon 22-Apr-13 08:10:57

We need to stop giving certificates for so many silly things. It devalues both achievement and attainment, and I am not sure they are the motivational tool some heads think they are.

Anyway, the attendance thing has only come up because Ofsted are having a school level push. There's also lots of policy whittering about children missing 'the equivalent if two weeks of school' or 'a month of school' every year. Not a lot of research into what this actually means for children of different abilities and backgrounds, and it is based on the false assumption of an input/output model as well, whereas a lot of schooling is about growth, maturity and parental encouragement.

BoffinMum Mon 22-Apr-13 08:13:14

If teachers really want to encourage children, marking their books thoughtfully and frequently, and giving masses of carefully targeted verbal feedback, should be the tools of choice.

Hulababy Mon 22-Apr-13 10:43:22

Academic awards in dd's school includes all subjects - humanities, languages, music and drama, dance. Maths, English, technology, art, You name it.

At my school it is up to class teachers what the one award is for - covers anything at all.

Heinz55 Mon 22-Apr-13 10:47:41

My childrens school does these and I do not like them - despite the fact that DD ussually has excellent attendance. The odd time she has been sick she's not wanted to miss school because she won't get an award. The school now do them for shorter periods of time (a month) so it is possible for everyone to get one. However it is not aimed at people who generally enable their children to attend regularly but at those parents who could not be bothered whether their children get up in time for school/have homework done, etc. And from that pov I see their aim.

mintyneb Mon 22-Apr-13 10:51:38

The existence of attendance awards has actually encouraged me to take DD out of school for a couple of days!

I am another parent of a child with a chronic health condition who will never get a 100% attendance award due to hospital appts. So knowing that it will make not one jot of difference to gaining this prize I thought I may as well take advantage of an opportunity we had been given and let DD miss school.

I would add that her HT will authorise a limited amount of absence so I'm not breaking the school's rules.

gabsid Mon 22-Apr-13 11:03:51

Well, our school sells to us that attendance is directly related to achievement. I haven't thought about it, but obviously, it's a lot more complex than that. And I think background and parental involement is crucial.

If DS is sick he stays at home. If he says he's not too well and he's tired, he goes to school and I might make the teacher aware if I am not sure or he deteriorates, but normally he is absolutely fine. Otherwise, he goes to school. Simple, no certificate is going to change that.

I think these certificates are a waste of someones time and money. All this printing and writing out names, dates and signatures. We also have certificates for good behaviour and at the end of each 1/2 term all but 1 or 2 per class get such a certificate.

Even if attendance is directly related to achievement it may not be a 100% causal relationship. Basically those with better parenting skills and better home environments are broadly speaking more likely to get their children to school more often (obviously where illness has been taken out of the equation - which it clearly can't be completely)

So, attendance rates could be as much a marker as a causal factor in higher achievement in children.

Fudgemallowdelight Mon 22-Apr-13 12:42:14

I kept my daughter out of school in December for 48 hours when she had a vomiting bug. Other kids at the time were throwing up at school and then turning up at school the next day to spread it around. Those kids get rewarded with a certificate, mine doesn't.

frazzledbutcalm Mon 22-Apr-13 13:07:46

Sorry haven't read the whole thread so this may have already been said. I don't like this initiative:-

If children are late, it's usually not their fault, but their parents' fault.
Children who are genuinely ill, cannot attend school.
Children who have hospital appointments which cannot be made out of school hours.

These are all examples of children who will miss out on 'awards' through no fault of their own.

expansivegirth Mon 22-Apr-13 13:50:48

OK. Just to say again - I think it would be so useful if someone who understands the Mumsnet site were to take the information that the poster who questioned the equality commission came back with - and put it in a place where everyone can see it. That is: if your child has a disaility/chronic illness etc the school is acting improperly if they allow this to be counted against the chlid's attendance in relation to attendance certificates etc.

However, for me this isn't the main point, which is: I am still unable to locate any evidence that such schemes increase attendance amongst those children with chronic absenteeism due to truancy/bad parenting (as opposed to children with committed and involved parents who allow occasional days off). Given that these persistant truants are the only children for whom there is likely to exist any meaningful correlation between attendance and later educational outcomes - it's surely crucial to demonstrate this link before allowing Ofsted to give weight to attendance figures.

(And there's my last question: how much weight does Ofsted give to attendance? How much weight does it given to attendance over something like pastoral care?).

Jellykitten1 Mon 22-Apr-13 14:32:05

MTSgroupie (if you are still reading) to answer your question "Jelly - why would an award for 'great listening', for example, be more meaningful?"

It's because it is something that would be down to him and him alone, not because your SIL (or whoever takes him) got him to school on time every day/he didn't happen to catch novovirus last winter. That is why it's more meaningful. Great listening is a real skill that even adults don't do well most of the time. Whereas good attendance for a young child is attributed to not happening to be ill AND having a parent/carer who cares to get them to school.

Fudgemallowdelight Mon 22-Apr-13 15:54:22

OP. My understanding it that without good attendance and/or the school doing initiatives like attendance certs to increase attendance, then the school can't get an outstanding ofsted. So i suppose it is ofsted we should really be annoyed with

YY, good point expansive - I think Ofsted probably does give too much weight to attendance figures. Maybe if they had a better sense of perspective about it schools would focus on other important aspects of learning and children's well-being more as well ?

Dinkysmummy Mon 22-Apr-13 19:31:22

I haven't read the whole thread but this is my take...

My dd is 5, in her previous school we were living in a hostel which was the other side of our large town. I got her to school (despite her undx'd sn which she has just been granted DLA for) every day on time despite having to leave at 7.15am ... No certificates for attendance or prizes, she didn't know any different. She already knows she has to go to school. I didn't expect a thank you or a well done or her to get a prize... I just had to get her to school as by law if your not HE, and they are not sick they have to go.
New school new place 10 minutes down the road - dinky comming up to having appointments and assessments for her sn, means she won't be able to attend the bouncy castle day for the end of this term attendance prize which all the other kids will be talking about! That she will know about, but I have to try to explain why she can't go.

I much prefer no prize. If we had missed one day in previous school it would not have mattered at all, she would be none the wiser.
I haven't turned into a feckless parent who can't be bothered to get their kid to school, my dd has SN.

tethersend Mon 22-Apr-13 19:55:17

Oh, Dinkysmummy, that is just ridiculous. Not much makes me angry on here, but that does.

Make them tell a 5yo little girl that she can't go on the bouncy castle as she has SN. Then ask them how that relates to the Equality Act. I'd go to the papers with that, actually. It epitomises everything that's wrong with attendance awards for young children.

missorinoco Mon 22-Apr-13 20:28:17

We get them. I find them pointless,DS has no interest in them at all. I should be getting the certificate though, not him. If it were up to him he would be watching Cbeebies all day long in his pyjamas.

And I should get double points for pushing a double buggy to get DS there in the snow.

Dinkysmummy Mon 22-Apr-13 20:31:36

The thing is I will have to be very careful how I tell her because what are my chances of getting her to the appointments if she knows she will miss out on the bouncy castle because she has appointments? Or next year when she remembers why she missed the bouncy castle?

I have been thinking about approaching SENco about this.

flatmum Mon 22-Apr-13 20:32:27

I agree with op it's stupid. The only time they don't attend is when they're sick which they can't help or when their parents take them out of school which they have no control over.

Shouldn't be in use until secondary school IMO

duchesse Tue 23-Apr-13 08:45:46

Dinky, I would keep her out of school for the bouncy castle day and do something fun together instead. And make sure her teacher knows why.

duchesse Tue 23-Apr-13 08:50:27

What I think might work with the erm, more feckless parents is if the head teacher rang the house and enquired whether the parent(s) needed someone to come and pick up the children. Hopefully the embarrassment ought to be enough to get the parent out of the house and down the road with them. It ought to be fairly easy to tell which families vs illness are just having a duvet day as all the children would be off at once. And attendance should not be affected by routine and planned medical appointments- that would solve those issues. All the parent ought to need to do is show their appointment card or letter and for the absence to be logged formally, ideally in advance if possible.

expansivegirth Tue 23-Apr-13 09:04:48

Dinky - please challenge the head on this.

Please look at Tiggy's post up-thread in which the equalities commission says that health problems/disabilities etc cannot be counted against any attendance award.

DorisIsWaiting Tue 23-Apr-13 09:37:40

I think this is the problem with poster saying it's just a bit of paper and no diffferent to wnning a sports award etc.

In different schools it can result in exclusion from a special activity, and bullying as a result of class attendance awards (shit on a whole new level!).

Attendence awards are different as the child has no control over their attendance (at primary). The DC's school has star learner awards that recognises when children have worked hard or sat still (if that is hard for them). All children should have the possibility for being able to achieve an award. They also have positive play awards for playtime. They seem to have seen the light with regard to attendence awards if they still do them (I don't think they do) absolutely no song and dance is made of them.

What galls most is the fact that children with health problems already have to face far greater challenges than the average and have NO chance of achieving. To compound this insult schools like Dinky's then rub salt in the wound, providing a bouncy castle to celebrate with those who either didn't get ill or went into school and made other children ill too.

Dinky- I second the others ask the equalities commisiion for support in challenging this for your DD and others in her situation. Contact the governors etc maybe post a thread in SN if you need help drafting a letter etc.

bubblesinthesky Tue 23-Apr-13 09:46:10

I hate them.

DD is in year 2. In year 1 she had 100% attendance and got a certificate. I pointed out to her it was in short a certificate for not being ill. Last term she had some kind of flu bug with a very high fever and vomitiing so I kept her off school. She spent most of the 2 days fretting that she wouldnt get her attendance certificate this year and asking to be taken in. If anything it made her iller worrying about it sad

nappyaddict Tue 23-Apr-13 09:50:44

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

My son goes to a special school for moderate learning difficulties so you'd think they would make allowances for medical appointments. However, they don't. I have also received many letters about his poor attendance which upset me a lot as he was genuinely ill or at appointments. It made me consider sending him when he was poorly just so they could send him home again. sad

duchesse Tue 23-Apr-13 15:33:43

Actually I'm beginning to hate the way the various performance indicators set by the government are applied in a seemingly unthinking, insensitive fashion, used as ends in themselves rather than as part of the process of educating the whole child, and many schools say they have no choice but to behave in a crashing boorish way in in children's lives because this is imposed by central government.

It's not, they're simply in a race to get the best marks without once stopping to wonder if it's a race they really need to be in. angry

radicalsubstitution Tue 23-Apr-13 16:35:17

Attendance awards are not a new thing and not Govian.

I would admit they have escalated out of all proportion from being a photocopied certificate to being a week's all inclusive in the Caribbean, but 100% attendance certificates have been around for decades.

I once worked for a company that gave a bonus to anyone who took no leave (other than holiday) at all during a year. The only exceptions were jury service and compassionate leave for death of a spouse/parent/sibling. The company's attitude was that you were paid wages for sick leave, the bonus was there to recognise attendance.

Naturally, this was pre-Equalities Act days. It takes many organisations many years to catch up with Equalities Legislation, and schools are neither the best nor the worst at this. Organisations often need a gentle or not-so-gentle nudge to move them towards more Equitable policies in general.

Schools unknowingly break the Equalities Act all the time. For example, our school will only allow full-timers to hold any management posts. This indirectly discriminates against people such as myself who, through disability, can only cope with part-time work. It also could be argued that it discriminates against women.

I am all in favour, and would encourage anyone with disabled children to point issues out to schools. I am also in favour of schools being required to carry out an Equalities Impact Assessment on any rewardssystem.

Prolonged non-attendance at school over long periods can be an indicator of other, very serious, issues - as in the Ishaq case. A 100% attendance certificate is never going to help here.

OP, to answer your question - there is a direct link between attendance and attainment. However, I have failed to find any evidence that awards for 100% attendance do anything to improve attendance itself (as it didn't with my former employer). It is so hard to achieve, for so many reasons, that it becomes unattainable to the majority and thus 'not worth the bother'.

There is, however, a growing body of evidence that employee attendance bonuses are, in fact, counter-productive and that's why most companies are scrapping them in favour of other, better, ways of managing absence.

As in everything else, schools are likely to be at least a decade behind private sector organisations before they cotton on.

mintyneb Tue 23-Apr-13 16:49:30

Well I'm totally gobsmacked!! DD has come home from school today with a certificate for 100% attendance last term. This is despite her missing two registrations for hospital appts. Her school must be doing something right :-)

Doesn't explain why she didn't get one for the winter term where yet again she had hospital appts but never missed a day for sickness or anything else. Will have to find out why...

Dinky I am so sorry to hear how your DD is being treated, that is absolutely appalling :-(

Talkinpeace Tue 23-Apr-13 18:11:26

At the fairly small school where I was a governor we submitted two sets of absence data to Ofsted.
One including a child whose medical problems linked to their statement meant they were off for up to half a term at a time
The other excluding that child.
The head, CofG and staff all agreed that if Ofsted ever penalised the school on the basis of the former set we would shout LOUD from the rooftops.
They didn't.

Enthuse Tue 23-Apr-13 20:21:40

Isn't it govian in the sense that this governments emphasis on rule following and formal structures means that ofsted now has tongive more weight to attendance ... Hence attendance
Certificates that are more about box ticking than actually solving truancy and absenteeism amongst those groups where absence indicates a problem...

Enthuse Tue 23-Apr-13 20:38:15

That is a real question. Our school is now
Having pressure put on it from the local education authority to increase attendance. Even though absences from the school are rarely truancy related (unsurprisingly as kids are 4 -7). So while attendance awards may have ever been a long time since when did having less than perfect attendance matter so much to an ofsted grading that schools have to be more relentless in it's pursuit?

Enthuse Tue 23-Apr-13 20:39:01

Sorry. iPhone. Enemy of fluency and grammar.

radicalsubstitution Tue 23-Apr-13 20:56:19

The over-emphasis on 'if the school doesn't meet this then it can't be more than this' is making the whole Ofsted system meaningless, in my opinion Enthuse.

I am waiting to hear what they're going to say about nurseries - 'if all children aren't potty trained, with fewer than one accident per week, by the time they are 3.5, then the setting can be classed as no more than Requires Improvement'.

Gove will then go on to say that toddlers in Singapore are out of nappies by 15 months.

tethersend Tue 23-Apr-13 22:13:12

grin

TeenAndTween Wed 24-Apr-13 14:34:19

My DD was given a book at the end of both y1 and y2 for having 100% attendance for the whole year. The school gives certificates for 100% for a term.
Now, I agree she is lucky not to have been ill, and lucky I don't take her out of school for holidays.
BUT she is unlikely ever to get awards / be in teams for any of the following: sport, maths, spelling, music, anything else academic
She is also unlikely (imo) to get voted to be a school councillor, or a house captain or whatever when she is in Y6.

Also, one of the reasons she gets 100% attendance is she/we are never late. THAT is partly because she is well behaved, gets ready for school in the morning without messing about, walks to school without messing about.

So, you know what? I am fine with her getting an attendance award.
(I am also fine that this year she won't get it as she has had a couple of days off sick, thems the breaks).

I do disagree with large rewards such as discos / trips out etc.

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