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to think I'm her parent, I get to decide if my daughter is too unwell for school?

(98 Posts)
Tinklewinkle Wed 06-Nov-13 11:05:38

My eldest daughter (11, in year 7) is unwell. She's had a stinking cough and cold for the last few days. She's carried on at school the last 2 days, but the lack of sleep from all night coughing has really got to her and she's completely exhausted. Last night she was up and down most of the night before finally dropping off about 5ish so when the alarm went off at 7 I decided to let her sleep and I'd send her into school later on if she felt better. If not, she'll be back tomorrow

Phoned school to let them know, just got answer phone so left a message explaining the above.

Just had a phone call from the rudest and most aggressive person I've ever had the misfortune to speak to Attendance Officer. My reasons for my daughter not attending school are "not acceptable" and I "need to get her in immediately". I tried to explain the above to her but she was so rude and aggressive, constantly talking over me, butting in and the phone call ended with her telling me she will be "taking this further and will be sending someone to our address to check, possibly following it up with the Education Welfare Officer"

I don't keep either of my children off school willy nilly, this is the first day off she's had (didn't have any time off at all last year, so it's not like she's always off with crap attendance), but I am her parent, so if I feel she's too sick for school, she's too sick for school

Would an EWO take any action?

SilverApples Wed 06-Nov-13 11:08:25

How much time has she had off since term started?
EWO look at numbers of absences, or patterns of late attendance and absence, say if she was regularly absent on a particular morning.
Yes, you should be the one determining if she's well enough to attend.

ReallyTired Wed 06-Nov-13 11:09:03

After 3 days off school your daughter needs to see the doctor for her sake rather than just to please the school. Surely its fine to self certfy for the first three days of any sickness. Otherwise its no wonder its impossible to get an appointment with the GP

I really don't think the EWO will care.

Aeroaddict Wed 06-Nov-13 11:11:30

That sounds bizarre. I wonder if they have somehow got confused and mixed you up with someone who has poor attendance. It doesn't make sense otherwise. Not that it would excuse her rudeness even if that was the case. I can't see how any action could be taken with one day off for a genuinely sick child.

Tinklewinkle Wed 06-Nov-13 11:13:33

It's the first day she's had off this term. None at all last year.

Never been late either.

BackOnlyBriefly Wed 06-Nov-13 11:15:22

It is up to you not some office worker trying to reach a target.

If they talked to me like that I'd want to report them to somebody, but I don't know if that would achieve anything.

TwoStepsBeyond Wed 06-Nov-13 11:23:28

I was expecting this to be the other way round, that you'd taken a sick child in and had them sent home, which is totally acceptable in my book, as I don't believe parents' motives for sending a child TO school are always about the child's best interests (I understand that for working parents this is a big consideration).

However, as it is the other way round and you are obviously not the kind of parent to keep her off school willy nilly, the woman you spoke to was completely out of order.

Perhaps she focused on the tiredness aspect rather than understanding that your dd has been ill for a few days too. However, even after a late night at Wembley for the school choir, our school has been known to allow specific children to come in late in order that they get a good nights sleep. Teachers are the first to point out how important it is that children are well rested.

Ignore her threats, anyone with any sense will make sure this goes no further.

MimiSunshine Wed 06-Nov-13 11:23:57

I would call back and speak to someone else in the office. Don't leave any more messages.
Be sweetness and light and Reiterate that your daughter is unwell as they will have noticed over the last two days and will not be coming in today but hopefully back tomorrow.
Then change your tone but not rude and ask if you were to make a complaint about a member of staffs behaviour and attitude, who would you make it to?

You don't need to actually do it, but shows that you don't accept being spoken to in that way. If the rude woman calls back again, tell her you object to her attitude and have considered making a complaint.
Having one day off sick does not a truant make.

Tinklewinkle Wed 06-Nov-13 11:27:24

I've just emailed the Head.

She was so rude, even if DD did have bad attendance, you just don't speak to people like that.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm her parent, I'm the one who was up half the night dealing with it, I'm the one who makes the decision, not some person on the end of a phone.

I feel like some naughty kid waiting for someone to come round and check up on me.

I'm sure they've got the right child - had her name, year group and tutor and my name right, so unless they've been entering some other child's information under my daughter's name then they've got the right person

poopadoop Wed 06-Nov-13 11:33:26

I think you are clearly justified in keeping your daughter off school - she is simply too unwell and needs to recover. The argument that you are her parent so you get to decide might be how you feel, but could come across as unnecessarily defensive - the simple fact of her being too unwell for school is more than enough. Unbelievable that person was so rude to you - how dare she, you're dead right to email the head

TeenAndTween Wed 06-Nov-13 11:33:31

Your mistake was explaining too much.
Next time just say 'she's ill' to the answerphone.

LucilleBluth Wed 06-Nov-13 11:35:03

Complain OP. I hate hate hate this emphasis on 100% attendance! it's like they are punishing the majority because of the few feckless parents who let their children stay off willy nilly.

I have had our head over a shitty letter she sent me when I wanted to book a day off take DS 1&2 to center parks. I told her in no uncertain terms that seeing as they are my children whom are both massively ahead of the game due to mine and DHs input that I will be taking out for one day regardless.

Please don't tell me what to do with MY children.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 06-Nov-13 11:35:24

That's awful

I have asthma & as a child I would often be up all night coughing, wheezing & struggling for breath.

The symptoms were usually gone by morning but I had days & days off school due to the general exhaustion if being up all night so I know exactly where you are coming from.

I take it whoever you spoke to us medically qualified ???? - thought not!

diddl Wed 06-Nov-13 11:37:00

Did they mishear the message & think that your daughter was off because she'd been up until 5?

Even so, no excuse for rudeness.

Don't you just tell the school that she's ill?

LucilleBluth Wed 06-Nov-13 11:37:02

That was an unintelligible rant blush

DowntonTrout Wed 06-Nov-13 11:39:03

I would be very angry to be spoken to like that. I'm glad you have emailed the head. If her attendance is as you say I would be asking why you are being threatened with a home visit and the AWO on her first days sickness in two years?

LadyVetinari Wed 06-Nov-13 11:39:35

YANB at all U to complain to the Head about this, but next time it'd probably be better to give the minimum information necessary - "She's too unwell for school today."

BrianTheMole Wed 06-Nov-13 11:39:35

How rude. I would ask for a copy of their complaints procedure and make a complaint. If your dd had loads of time off for no good reason, then thats one thing. But she hasn't. I wouldn't let her get away with speaking to me like that angry

I think someone has dropped a bollock and got you mixed up with some other family. How on earth can they justify a) being so fucking rude and b) questioning non-attendance after the first day off in a year and a half!

I would be 'fumming' (sorry cannot say 'fuming' without thinking 'fumming' these days grin)

Has DD had bad attendance prior to the last year and a half? confused

Tinklewinkle Wed 06-Nov-13 11:46:48


It says on their absent line answerphone message that you need to give reasons, just "unwell" is not acceptable. I'll email if I have to do it again

She's always had good attendance, 1 or 2 days off per year with the odd sickness bug. Nothing serious - she always seems to save up her illness for the school holidays

Unless they've been entering information incorrectly, they have the right child - right name, year group, form tutor, my name, phone number. I'll check, worrying if they can't enter simple information correctly though hmm

EldritchCleavage Wed 06-Nov-13 11:48:47

It's all so stupid and short-sighted and target driven. How is being rude and talking over parents and issuing empty threats about the Welfare Officer (they must be empty, given your DD's good attendance record) going to encourage parents to value and ensure attendance? That's the 'last straw' conversation with a parent who just doesn't care, not the 'first contact' conversation with someone who obvious does.

hermioneweasley Wed 06-Nov-13 11:52:05

I would definitely complain to the head, and to the governor with responsibility for attendance.

Mumsyblouse Wed 06-Nov-13 11:54:34

Take no notice of all this huffing and puffing, how absolutely ridiculous and inappropriate, you were right to let the Head know. You are the parent, your child is ill, you make a decision and it is not for them to tell her to get in there!

By the way the educational welfare officer is just a stupid threat to scare nice obedient families into making their sick kids go into school to up the attendance rates so that when the really troubled families or children that truant don't appear, their overall rate is high enough to take the hit.
The EWO is not interested in kids having one day off over a cold- we had a threat about this and my husband rang the EWO himself to see if there would be any issues with our proposed plans and the poor officer was most apologetic and ended up reassuring us, not the other way around. Another friend of mine had a visit from one (they are foreign and didn't know about the complete taboo on taking children to their home country coming back a few days after the start of term- they do now) and they were very nice and there were no issues at all. They have families where children are off for 25% of the time or more, or haven't been seen since age 14, they are just used like the boogey man to scare unsuspecting decent law-abiding people for their own very selfish target driven reasons.

Mumsyblouse Wed 06-Nov-13 11:57:32

By the way, call their bluff next time. Say, 'ok, thanks for that information, can I have your name and can I have the name and telephone number of the EWO so I can follow this up myself and find out the regulations?' And then call the EWO if necessary. This is just a real waste of time and resources and it is not ok to go around threatening parents over sick children, it should be called out.

Hey Tinkle don't put down to malice what you can to stupidity grin

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