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To think that attendance recording at school is unfair

(139 Posts)
ICompletelyKnowAboutGuineaPigs Tue 26-Mar-13 11:24:35

So not actually attendance recording per se. I understand why schools monitor attendance and why this is important.

But at my DS's (aged 6) primary school they reward attendance (100%) at the end of every term with a special assembly, a certificate and extra 'golden time' in the afternoon. Now DS has not missed a full day of school or been late this term BUT he has had some appointments during school time. He is currently being assessed by the ASD team and they requested assessment by Speech and Language therapy and Occupational Therapy. The school know about this and the services have liaised with the school to keep them updated. No complaints so far, the school have been great.

The appointments are made by the services and so on 2-3 occasions he has had to miss an hour or two of school - but I always pick him up as late as possible and drop him off afterwards. He hasn't been awarded his attendance certificate because of these occasions. AIBU to think this is a bit unfair? I can't decide if it is discriminatory and whether I should take it further or whether the school are being perfectly reasonable because he hasn't been IN school 100% of the time (my friend's DD, however, has received her certificate despite leaving school early due to illness so I'm not sure what their exact criteria are).

I have spoken to the school SENCO/attendance monitor and he actually agrees with me but says he has to work within the guidelines. Should I challenge the guidelines or just it go?

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Tue 26-Mar-13 13:45:34

But if they r sick they r sick??? A certificate won't change that. How can a parent help a child maintain their attendance? They r children the parents take them or arrange for them to be taken. Since when is the attendance of a primary age child down to the child? There's not a choice in going.

landofsoapandglory Tue 26-Mar-13 13:45:52

And the diasbled/chronically ill/child with SN gets more and more pissed off sitting through 11 years of assemblies watching other DC get certificates and prizes for attendance, knowing they never ever will no matter how much they encourage their parents!

Sirzy Tue 26-Mar-13 13:47:46

The CHILD might be pleased to get an attendance certificate and ENCOURAGE the parent to help him or her keep up good attendance.

"yes mum i know I have a throat infection but I really NEED to go in so I get a certifcate"

Replace throat infection with chicken pox/D and V/chest infection or anything else they will them go on to pass to other children meaning those who are more vulnerable due to illness/disabiltiy end up missing even more time off school

landofsoapandglory Tue 26-Mar-13 13:52:54

YY Sirzy. I had a letter from DS1's HT at college because his attendance was low. DS1 has whooping cough, the college knew that because they sent letters out. The HT said he had nearly 3 weeks off in one go (before a 2 week holiday otherwise it would've been longer) which wasn't good when they are doing A levels. I agreed and asked if he had had wanted whooping cough, and he said no, and he had small DC who didn't want it either!

You can't bloody win!

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 13:53:19

But goldmandra as you have said above, children are rewarded for effort so why do you think that a long term sick child won't have the opportunity to be rewarded for other things? Even if a child's attendance is only 50% due to medical conditions, there are still many, many things in terms of their efforts AND achievements at school that can be rewarded.

You can't justify an unfair and distressing process which is penalising children for already being at a disadvantage in so many ways by saying they can get rewards for other things. That's like saying I'm not going to pay you all of your salary this month because I sent you on a course so you weren't in the office but, it's OK, you can still compete with the rest of the staff for the prize for the highest sales figures.

These children are already at a disadvantage because they can't always be in school. My DD gets very upset about having to catch up on what she's missed and not knowing about developments which have occurred when she was in hospital. Is it going to make her feel better if I tell her she has to applaud those who are healthier than her for being that lucky and then she can be grateful for the opportunity to get an award for having the most housepoints?

ilovexmastime Tue 26-Mar-13 13:53:43

YANBU, I've thought this ever since our new head introduced the idea. My DC don't need time off for health reasons, but there are plenty of kids who do and I think it's really unfair on them.
As a parent who, in the past, when my DC were younger, has taken them out of school to go on holiday, I can honestly say that this policy would not have made an ounce of difference to my decision to do so.
Hey kids! Do you want to go on holiday, or do you want to get your 100% attendence certificate?

landofsoapandglory Tue 26-Mar-13 13:53:50

*had whooping cough. He doesn't have it now, thankfully.

Mosschopz Tue 26-Mar-13 13:54:16

I manage attendance in a large secondary school. It's not that ofsted would want to see schools 'being seen to be doing something', the reality is an Inadequate or Requires Improvement rating if attendance is not good enough and no school will risk that. 100% rewards are all well and good (you'll always get parents who push for this to be rewarded) but 95%+ are better as they allow for students who have had the odd medical. You'd be surprised how many 'days off' 95% is!

Hulababy Tue 26-Mar-13 13:54:44

I dislike 100% attendance certificates, especially at primary school.

1. Children at primary usually have absolutely no influence in whether they go to school or not. They are sent/taken by a parent, or not. If a parent decides not to send them, the child cannot go.

In this case, if there were to be such awards, tbh, they should just go direct to parents. At the end of the day they are really the ones responsible for a child's attendance.

2. It encourages parents to send ill children to school. They then infect all the other children and the teaching staff. The illness then spreads. I would far prefer poorly children to stay home and be cared for, rather than being upset and miserable at school. I am at home ill at the moment, signed off til after Easter. No doubt the original bugs came from school. We have had so many children coming in ill this year. I know it is hard for parents when they have work, I work too. But it's just not fair on anyone.

3. It is unfair for children with long term illness and disabilities who have appointments outside of their control, which have to take place during the school day.

So maybe have two different awards instead:

1. Well done parent; you sent your child to school.
2. Well done child x. You were not ill this year.

But can I add another one...

3. Well done parent. You sent the ill child to school and have contributed nicely to the school's decline absence record for other children and staff.

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 13:59:12

I'm NOT talking about genuinely ill children or suggesting for one minute they go into school unwell. There are plenty of circumstances where attendance is at least part down to the child: the child who puts on an illness to get out of school, the child who persuades his parents not to go to school but go out shopping instead (I was that child!). Maybe it doesn't happen so much in your neck of the woods, but there is plenty of absenteeism for poor reasons. It's THOSE children who certificates are aimed at.

Hulababy Tue 26-Mar-13 14:01:48

190 teaching days for children in a school.

A week's absence = 97%
A fortnight = 95% (well just under)

Sirzy Tue 26-Mar-13 14:02:56

And you really think a piece of paper is going to change that attitude?

Does it not matter that those certificates will upset the child who has no choice but to miss a lot of school? is a childs happiness a worthwhile sacrifice in order to possibly persuade one or 2 children they may want to attend to get a certificate?

Hulababy Tue 26-Mar-13 14:03:42

Dancergirl - with those children a certificate will not make the blindest bit of difference. It's a piece of paper. The reasons for those children not attending will be quite deep generally, a school certificate will not solve that. It requires way more work on the part of schools and parents working together. The time and effort in producing such certificates and/or rewards would be better spent working with such children on a 1:1 basis.

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 14:04:41

So write to those parents individually. Call them in for meetings with their children to discuss how to solve the problem.

Put the older children on some sort of reporting system which requires them to explain absences face to face and make arrangements to catch up with the work every time.

Just don't use a blunt instrument which kicks the children who are already down!

I still can't see how attendance certificates at the end of term are going to make any difference to the decisions a five year old made if in some crazy world they were able to decide whether to go to school! At primary age the rewards and sanctions which work are those which are applied at the time, not weeks later.

tiggytape Tue 26-Mar-13 14:07:58

I believed their policy to be discriminatory, so contacted 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.

Good for you - I agree with you 100% and have something similar for my DCs. Both have lifelong medical conditions that make 100% attendance impossible. It is not just a case of bad luck and getting a tummy bug one week - they have hospital appointments booked upto a year in advance that have to be in term time as that's when the Consultants see them.

No employer would be allowed to (for example) withhold a staff bonus on those grounds so if the school want to make a big song and dance about 100% attendance (which frankly is a ridiculous thing to reward - largely it is dictated by being lucky not to get ill or having feckless parents who drag children into schools with all sorts of nasty bugs) then they will have to include children who have 100% attendance apart from absences directly related to disability.

If schools are just recording it, then it is up to them but if they are going to do a whole reward scheme around the issue then they must make exceptions for children with lifelong illness or disability.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Tue 26-Mar-13 14:08:44

Again, instead of a certificate which sets up the majority of kids to fail what is wrong with giving children jobs and roles within the school. It having a show and tell at the end of the week so all children can look forward to doing it.

You cannot surely believe that a certificate at the end of the year which must children would probably have forgotten all about given it takes a year would work. What about weekly incentives to get all children excited about being in school that a child who is ill still has the following week to look forward to

Pandemoniaa Tue 26-Mar-13 14:16:35

Maybe it doesn't happen so much in your neck of the woods, but there is plenty of absenteeism for poor reasons. It's THOSE children who certificates are aimed at.

I absolutely agree. Which is why it is important that attendance schemes are not used like a heavy implement to beat all children over the head with. In too many cases the children that suffer from ill-thought out systems are precisely those who aren't absent for poor reasons. Inadequately thought out and unfairly applied policies do nothing to motivate people or bring about meaningful change in those areas where change is necessary.

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 14:25:48

Nicely put Pandemoniaa smile

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 14:45:26

hulababy if its 'just a piece of paper' and of so little importance, why are we even having this debate? Why do parents even care about a piece of paper? Are you saying it matters to the good attender and not the poor?

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 14:56:09

You're missing an important point there Dancergirl.

Most parents wouldn't give two hoots about the certificate. The children who have to sit and watch others be praised and rewarded for being lucky feeling that they are being implicitly criticised for being ill or disabled care a great deal.

auntpetunia Tue 26-Mar-13 15:02:11

There's a way to get round it...make appointment late in the afternoon so dc gets their school mark, or mid morning let them in for mark then pick up and take back before afternoon register.

tethersend Tue 26-Mar-13 15:23:42

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

jacks365 Tue 26-Mar-13 15:28:54

New ht at my dd school brought in a 100% attendance reward. My DD was excluded from it as she had missed one day of school, her and another boy had been attending a young persons conference as representatives of the school now that was unfair and yes i complained the school has now dropped the rewards system from 100% to 95%

DD3 also has medical appointments regularly but i insist on out of school times and get them but she's under the physiotheraphy dept so they work later hours.

No school should reward 100% attendance unless very very exceptional so for example at my secondary school i recall 1 boy getting a special mention for 5 years of perfect attendance that i see as ok but termly no chance.

IShallWearMidnight Tue 26-Mar-13 15:30:47

LOL at being able to make appointments at a time to suit you grin. DD2 has 3 monthly appointments on a Wednesday afternoon (as that's when the clinic runs) and it takes us door to door about 90 minutes to get there, assuming no waiting for trains or buses. So that's at least a whole afternoon off for a 3.45 appointment.

And then there's the orthodontist appointments, again at a hospital, this time only 30 minutes drive away. But the clinic she needed runs 4 times a year and appointments are like gold dust, so you take whatever they offer you, regardless of when it is.

Hulababy Tue 26-Mar-13 16:03:35

Dancergirl - to me, it is just that. To some young primary aged children it means far more.

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