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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!

morethanpotatoprints Tue 09-Oct-12 18:22:25

I think any extension to teachers having to leave a class to "cope" with a sick child would be too much for me. I may be old fashioned but I believe teachers are there to educate.
The dcs miss so much teaching due to many other activities and at present equates to aprox an hour and a half work per day.
I'm so glad we are not part of this system.

adrastea Tue 09-Oct-12 15:09:05

There are people on this thread who believe it is the job of somebody within the school to look after ill dcs.
Nobody thinks that. What people think is that it is the school's job to look after a child who takes ill or as ill at school until a parent or someone suitable is able to get there - which it is. Legally and morally.

Your statement that your child will miss out 'an education' if all children at a school didn't have emergency contacts always nearer than 30 minutes (which is what is being discussed) is a ridiculous exaggeration. There will always be children taken ill at school, so what is being discussed is that in some cases the situation that already happens at your child's school would be slightly extended.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 09-Oct-12 14:43:23


A child would miss out on an education if their teacher/ T.A spent their time "coping with ill children", instead of teaching. There are people on this thread who believe it is the job of somebody within the school to look after ill dcs. Many schools do not have the staff you suggested in your post above. Sometimes there have been several children in school sick on the same day, it does tend to spread.

nooka Mon 08-Oct-12 18:55:43

Goodness that sounds like poor planning there I would have expected that all trips require a risk assessment and that emergency planning would have been a part of it. Although perhaps that was the plan as the children were supervised. I just hope that was a mutual arrangement made n advance rather than ad hoc.

I do think that there is a difference between accidents and illness. If a child has a serious accident during the time they are in the school's care then the school has a duty to respond appropriately. They cannot just wait for a parent to return to manage the situation and hope that it is within a reasonable period of time.

For illnesses I can't really see that there is a huge difference between waiting half an hour or an hour. In both cases it's unfortunate and I'm sure everyone would rather the child was not unwell or had not been sent to school that day.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 08-Oct-12 15:05:56

At dd's old primary school there was no head, deputy head, secretary, welfare office, etc for 99% of the time.

Head worked two days a week, no deputy, secretary worked a couple of hours most mornings. Rest of the time just three teachers and a couple of TAs so I don't think staff would accompany them to hospital. In fact on a residential school trip where they did have to take a kid to hospital they had to leave all the other kids with teachers from another school who they'd not met before as their policy says two teachers had to go to hospital and there were only two of them there.

prettybird Mon 08-Oct-12 11:51:54

Ds had the misfortune to break his leg at his primary school shock (what really shocked us was the number of people who suggested to us that we should sue the school hmm). Initially they just thought he had turned his ankle but rang home after about half an hour as he was still crying "which was unlike him".

Until dh could get down to the school (I was 400 miles away) ds was left in the 1st Aid room. I thought that all schools had to have one - ds' primary school was bursting at the seams ( roll up from 200 to 300+ in the 7 years he was there) and every single inch of the place was used for teaching (over the years, the library, computer room and noisy/quiet room were all turned into classrooms) with only the head teacher having a small office and the admin staff (2 of them) sharing a small area outside her office. The depute head didn't even have an office. Indeed, on occasion, if she needed to talk to you privately, you would be ushered into the first aid room.

He's just started at secondary school: last week he had his first "school" rugby game. At it, one of his friends had a freak accident, with a whole rugby stud making a hole in his calf (amazingly, missing all blood vessels so there was no bleeding) and an ambulance had to be called as we didn't want to move him (dh and I had gone to watch ds as he was playing at our own local rugby club). Kid's mum was on her way home from work but if she hadn't managed to get to the club in time, one of the teachers was fully prepared to go in the ambulance as the "responsible adult". No sense of irritation at the parent, just an acceptance of responsibility that she was the one that was there.

I wonder if part of it is developing a sense of partnership with the school - something we've been fortunate to experience at ds' primary school and are in the process of developing at the secondary - and which I don't get the impression the the head teacher in the OP has developed (you don't talk AT parents, you talk WITH them).

alemci Mon 08-Oct-12 10:38:04

must be how different councils spend their budgets. where we are there are welfare/medical people with a medical room.

when i went to school in the 70s' there was a medical lady and room.

adrastea Mon 08-Oct-12 06:47:52

Well, we're not talking about nurseries which are totally different smile But anyway none of this answers the question I keep asking which is how could your child miss out on 'an education'?

morethanpotatoprints Mon 08-Oct-12 00:55:58


Having 3 dcs who attended 8 primary/secondary schools. Having worked in, and visited many others including nurseries, I have never known a member of staff whatever their position free to look after sick children. They are left in the reception area or corridor for collection.
If, as some have suggested "the school should cope", I would like to know who they intend to do this.
I have never known a welfare officer in any school, and the other people you mention have roles which don't include nurse maid.
I have never known a member of staff leave their post to accompany children to the hospital in an emergency, so as not to leave their post. Perhaps you see that as the role of the care taker, lol.

adrastea Sun 07-Oct-12 23:06:15

There are only teachers and TAs available in school
So no head teacher, deputy head, welfare officers, school secretaries, teachers with free periods and other staff then? smile

If a child has to be accompanied to hospital in a real emergency, who goes with them will be gone in all likelihood for a reasonable amount of time, regardless of whether parents take 10, 30 minutes or 60 minutes to reach hospital. God forbid this happens to a child in my son's class. Under those circumstances, given that the situation is probably extremely rare and traumatic for everyone, I don't think his entire education is going to be ruined for the sake of an hour or even half a day, even if it was his teacher who went with the child. I really wouldn't feel right begrudging that very small amount of time time while another child was being rushed into hospital.

How frequently does a child take ill in your child's class where you know the teacher has to care for that child that you think the half an hour difference between 30 minutes and 60 minutes would ruin her entire education?

Startailoforangeandgold Sun 07-Oct-12 22:57:06

I've just realised this is 100% barking as it means that half the families at the school must have two working cars AT all times!!???

Mines off to be serviced tomorrow. Primary (3miles) is ~ 40 mins walk at least, 20+ min on a bike. No way would a sick DD want to walk home.

No buses and the sort of rural area where I could be 30+ minutes on the phone finding a cab that's prepared to come out here.
Heaven knows how long one would take to get here.

Secondary school is 5+ miles and no way would I walk it or cycle it (very long hills).

Lots of the pupils live way further away still, especially the sixth formers, who's local schools are 11-16.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 07-Oct-12 22:35:31


There are only teachers and TAs available in school if they are attending to a sick child, as some have voiced they should do, who do you suppose would be teaching the children?

onceortwice Sun 07-Oct-12 15:02:54

I haven't read all the pages on this thread, so apologies if I've missed something, but I would say this is more and more prevalent. My DS has HFA so some (but not statemented) SN / additional needs. The only way I could get the school ALLOCATED to us to take my son was to gaurentee that I would always be 5 MINUTES of collecting him from school. As and when they needed me to.

His last day at school was Wednesday. I dropped him off at 8:58. They called me at 9:03 and when I didn't pick up that call, I got a text telling me to pick him up immediately. And that he would sit, alone, in reception until I got there. The text says he is ill, the VM I got does not, just that he didn't want to be at school.

He is supposed to go again tomorrow. I think we all know how that will go.

Trouble is, the schools are over subscribed and under funded.

If you think having a NT child in a state school is hard, try having one with non statemented SN.


diddl Sun 07-Oct-12 14:55:18

Depends how far away you are, autumn-they might have sent someone to fetch you.

When I was ill once at primary school, a teacher took me home.

autumnlights12 Sun 07-Oct-12 14:41:56

things have improved since the good old days! I would much rather be contactable than not. I dread to think how much distress my three year old would have been in, had I not rushed straight to nursery when she split her chin open, passed out, and needed taking to hospital for stitches. It happened first thing in the morning and had I been unreachable, she'd have been driven there by a teacher she barely knew, and spent the next 6 hours sobbing in a corner on her own waiting for me.
Sometimes the 'good old days' weren't so good.

prettybird Sun 07-Oct-12 14:01:43

There are times when I wonder if this era of "contactability" is a good thing or not hmm

Outing myself as an oldie When I was young in the 60s blush not everyone had even a landline phone, even though there were lots of SAHMs and mobile phones didn't exist

So if a child was ill, the school would have either had to send someone to the house unlikely or cope.

My mum went to Uni as soon as my younger db went to school. She most definitely would not have been able to be contacted during the day - even if the school were to contact the Uni, she might not have been in a tutorial or lecture, as she could have been at the library or en route to or from Uni.

Funnily enough, we survived and received a good education grin

adrastea Sun 07-Oct-12 09:09:11

morethanpotatoprints How would any child miss out on 'an education' in the situation where another sick child was fetched after 60 minutes rather 30, or where a seriously injured or unwell child had to be accompanied to hospital? It would never be your child's class teacher doing it, so how would your child miss any lesson time, much less a 'an education'? grin

nooka Exactly. I did know our neighbours, but for different reasons were all people who could't be named as a contact. My son goes to an after school club at the nursery where he's gone for several years. He knows everyone there, but if he was ill, they wouldn't be able to take him either. We do have someone who could fetch him after school or in the evening from after school club if neither his dad or I could get there by when they closed (that has happened once).

Changebagsandgladrags Sun 07-Oct-12 08:50:33

Because we didn't get into our local school, even if I didn't work it would take me more than 30 mins to get there (don't drive).

littleducks Sun 07-Oct-12 08:15:09

I just asked dd what happens to sick children at school, she says they sit in the welfare room with the 'welfare helpers' who also work in the photocopy room next door.

I have been in the welfare room and its reasonably comfy. I'm glad that the school has one, it is used for first aid if a child is hurt (conveniant to have first aid supplies and a sink in one place) and has a mini fridge and stuff to keep medication for children who need it in. (I think this is for long term medical needs, im pretty sure they dont take kids on antibiotics etc. in but have never asked)

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 07-Oct-12 06:56:58

Potato it's not just cos it's weird to be friendly. Plenty of people who are SAHPs have a younger child at home. Would they really want to go and pick up a vomiting child and risk infecting their toddlers?

In my street there are two retired couples - one where the man is sick and looked after by his wife and one the other way round. Why would they risk catching D&V for the sake of people they know well enough to say hi to but not much more? The neighbours to whom we are closer, because we are a bit closer in age, surprise surprise, also work.

I do appreciate that it is a problem for schools but it still seems more efficient if the government would budget into school funding that there is a staff member with an allowance of hours to keep an eye on sick kids - there must be a way of estimating that in a school of 200, each child will have, say, 1 or 2 instances of needing to go home sick a year, so say 30-40% of one person's hours will be required for this. Observe the actual pattern over a year and adjust for local variations.

naughtymummy Sun 07-Oct-12 05:16:39

I do think it is a good idea to have someone able to get the school within an hour. When dh and I both were both working away, we chose to employ a nanny so that she could collect ds if necessary. Now we have made a positive decision not to work away on the same day.I do not think asking for a local contact is unreasonable. FWIW I am worrying about going to a freinds for lunch next week (approx 1hr 15 from school) on a day.when dh is also away

nooka Sun 07-Oct-12 00:41:08

It's not weird to be friendly, it's lovely. But it just isn't how many areas work any more. In areas with high turnover like London you often just don't get to know your neighbours. Everyone goes to work and then in their spare time they don't tend to socialise locally. Having friends that live an hour or so away is very normal, and many fewer people live close to family any more.

If you are a working parent you don't tend to get to know the parents of your children's school friends, because you don't meet them very often. Certainly not well enough to ask them to be an emergency contact as that's a fairly large favour IMO.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 07-Oct-12 00:30:27

Maybe its an area thing. Parents round here are all friendly and don't find it weird at all. As parents are friendly so are dcs and as they mostly play together and have play dates, parties, attend clubs and activities together aren't strangers to one another.
I'd hate to live in a place that wasn't like this and it was considered weird to befriend people with a common interest. However, there are some parents I know who I wouldn't want as a contact but I wouldn't approach them or put name on their list.
I am so glad my dd is not at school missing out on an education because the people who are supposed to be teaching her are busy looking after somebody elses sick child, because they feel it weird to be friendly.

Murtette Sun 07-Oct-12 00:05:24

Toddler DD is at a private day nursery. When she started, I was asked to fill in a special emergency sheet which involved providing mine & DP's mobile numbers plus one other emergency contact number. The emergency contact number had to be a local phone code so they knew that that person could get to nursery within 20 mins. I was quite proud of the back up plan I cobbled together using various friends who'd gone back to work part time but was told that having a different emergency contact for each day was too complicated so they just took the first person despite the fact that, on the other two days, she will be at least an hour away. And they insisted on having my mobile number despite the fact that we have limited coverage at home so, on the day I work from home, the landline is the way to get hold of me. Sigh. Luckily the day DD cut her head open at nursery was the day I was working from home but was at the surgery waiting for an appt with the GP when my phone went so had reception.

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

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

It took a hour hmm

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

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

Sounds to me that school have had an issue with this and are trying to resolve it

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