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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bigmouthstrikesagain Thu 04-Oct-12 15:08:56

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear School,

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

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

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



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

haha Catsmouth grin

I would be tempted to write something similar.

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

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

IShallWearMidnight Thu 04-Oct-12 15:22:33

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

grin catsmother

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

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

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

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

But can anyone actually remember?

RubyFakeNails Thu 04-Oct-12 15:44:33

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

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

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

Ridiculous people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mobiles have a lot to answer for!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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