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AIBU school lateness and office staff...

(133 Posts)
Splandy Thu 10-Mar-16 10:50:36

My son was late for school yesterday. On days when my husband isn't at work until the afternoon, he does the morning drop off. I catch up on a bit of sleep until the baby wakes for his morning feed. Yesterday, my husband developed a migraine during the morning and woke me up, telling me I'd have to do the school run. I hadn't fed the baby, so had to rush everything, feed baby, prepare lunch etc. We were at least twenty minutes late. When we walked into the school reception, a member of staff was there and said 'why are you late, mom?'. I found it strange and paused for a moment before saying 'we overslept', as I really didn't want to go through the whole long winded explanation. I've never been asked this before. They just direct you to the lateness record where you can give a reason. I think it's quite rude to ask this in front of everybody, I have no idea who she is and may not want to discuss things in front of loads of other parents. There have been times when reasons for lateness were very personal. Telling her why I'm late doesn't change the fact that I am, and she doesn't note anything down as I still have to fill in the record. It felt like she was just being nosey. I noticed that a dad came in with his children after me and wasn't asked, though have no way of knowing whether he has an agreement to come in later than usual.

This morning, managed to get there late again. Was, again, unavoidable. Baby managed to throw up over three outfits, got poo up his back... All went wrong. We were less than a minute late. My son stood at the bottom of the playground and didn't run up to go in after the line of children. Their policy is that, once the door is closed, that's it. He's told me that children don't even get marked late when that happens because they hav not taken the register by the time they get in there. So I took him to the office, and this member of staff was there again. As we walked in, she put on an incredulous voice and said to my son 'oh, you're late again!' as though trying to make him feel bad about something over which he has no control. We were so 'late' that I walked back home with all of the other parents. She again turned to me and asked why I was late. It really bloody pissed me off. I think the tone of voice she was using was what really got to me. So I gave her a look and said 'because we are'. I probably looked pretty pissed off. She did a bit of an awkward laugh and I walked off to fill in the late record.

Am I being unreasonable? We've only been late this year once before this week, it has unfortunately happened two days in a row. I think publicly asking me why I'm late, which seemed intentionally done to embarrass me, is out of order. I hadn't showered or eaten breakfast or anything, I was out of breath from bloody running and generally feeling irritable. I really don't know whether I was unreasonable to give her an explanation.

Floggingmolly Thu 10-Mar-16 10:54:29

Why did your ds stand at the bottom of the playground instead of joining the line of children going in?

WorraLiberty Thu 10-Mar-16 10:56:42

think it's quite rude to ask this in front of everybody, I have no idea who she is and may not want to discuss things in front of loads of other parents.

You were 20 minutes late at that point. If 'loads of other parents' were within earshot then presumably they were all 20 minutes late too? In that case I can understand why you were asked and I expect they would have been asked the same question.

YABU anyway I think. I understand it must have made you feel uncomfortable, but lateness is an issue for a lot of schools as it's disruptive to the whole class.

It's understandable that they'd want to know why, and I don't think they can be expected to take every single parent aside, and ask in private.

Cuttheraisins Thu 10-Mar-16 11:01:36

Schools have to take a much harder line on lateness. Not only is is disruptive for all the other children, it's also disruptive for your child. I know that it is hard and occasional lateness is fine but if you could be a fly on the wall in a school in the morning, it's often the same families who are late over and over again. Schools are judged by Ofsted and absences and lateness are noted. Our school does that too, and has serious measures in place to stop some families from being consistently late. The council can get involved, and in some cases lateness can be a sign that someone is t right win the family and they can provide extra support (this recently happened for a family with parents separating and having issues with visiting rights, etc)

Splandy Thu 10-Mar-16 11:03:41

I have no idea, he was convinced that he couldn't go in at that point, seemed to think that it was a lost cause and the door would be shut by the time he got there. There weren't lots of parents there yesterday, perhaps 2 or 3. I don't think they were there for lateness. They were talking to other members of staff, not office staff. The dad who came in after me wasn't asked.

There were a large number of people there this morning, but I was the first name for the lateness record today, so no idea why they were there. There have been a few occasions where at least half of the class have been considered 'late' and school refused to accept they went in earlier than usual. Suspect it may have happened this morning as I did think we'd get there just on time and saw three parents from my child's class coming in as I was on the way out.

I don't expect to be taken aside and asked. I don't see the need to be verbally asked at all. I'm happy to write it in the book as I always have.

Splandy Thu 10-Mar-16 11:07:17

I'd understand if we were consistently late, but we're not. And he won't have been marked as late for today because he'll have arrived at the class at the same time as his classmates, but through a different door.

NickNacks Thu 10-Mar-16 11:08:19

You need to factor in unexpected delays in to your routine. Three times in less than two terms is a lot to be late and 20 minutes late is very late! You should definitely not be surprised at being questioned why and it's probably a good thing that you're a bit embarrassed by it.

Fooshufflewickbannanapants Thu 10-Mar-16 11:09:11

Why did you have to prep lunch before you left? misses point

MatildaTheCat Thu 10-Mar-16 11:09:20

I can't understand why, on the first occasion, you didn't just say, 'Sorry, my husband was taken ill.'? That would have been fine.

The school clearly has a strict policy on lateness and you have to abide by it or explain why. Maybe not your fault but YABU to be so affronted.

Splandy Thu 10-Mar-16 11:13:39

Unfortunately, I really can't factor in poo up the baby's back or sick down himself when we're all strapped into the pushchair and ready to go. He needed three outfit changes this morning. I was up earlier than usual and still hadn't showered or eaten breakfast by the time we left, so really do consider this unavoidable! It's not usually a problem and the only other time it has happened was when he was about three weeks old. In fact, the staff member who greeted me then commented on the fact that I was doing well to have not been late more with a new baby. What on earth could I have done to get there thirty seconds earlier this morning??

BreconBeBuggered Thu 10-Mar-16 11:14:25

It may be that your school is very random about timekeeping and calls children in early to catch you out, but most parents don't have any idea what the normal procedure for late arrivals is. You say you're happy to write in the book as you always have, which does suggest an unusual degree of familiarity with the protocol. However if staff wanted to speak to you in person, it should have been done more privately.

GoblinLittleOwl Thu 10-Mar-16 11:15:57

Once the register is closed lateness is regarded as an unauthorised absence; schools have all sorts of ways of getting round this, but you do have to give an explanation.
If you know you are going to be late, ring up in advance: husband ill, baby sick.

Splandy Thu 10-Mar-16 11:17:36

Haha, my husband doesn't like doing sandwiches the night before, they go soggy, so does them on the morning. Obviously, none of this had been done so I had to do it. You know what, I don't really know why I didn't say he was ill. I was surprised that I'd been asked so loudly and cheekily. No other office staff do this. My thought process was more that we were late because I had still been sleeping, obviously not usually a problem. I did write the actual reason on the book. Just not sure why she felt the need to ask it as well.

NickNacks Thu 10-Mar-16 11:20:00

Of course you can! You have to when you have a baby. Everyone who has more than one child has to do this. Poo and sick happens with little ones but you need to leave extra time in your planning so when it does happen, it doesn't make you late.

So if they have to be in at 8.50 I would aim to be in the playground for 8.40.

10 minute walk means I would leave no later that 8.25. Start getting shoes, coats etc on at 8.20.... Etc.

You have to work backwards adding a little extra time than the maximum you think it would take for each job.

Your son will learn how to do the same and it's a great skill to teach them.

WonderingAspie Thu 10-Mar-16 11:20:34

YABU. All parents that are late have reasons/excuses. It's a pain for the school to constantly have children turning up late and it is disruptive to the class. I see it all the time when I am walking home. It must be very frustrating for them. Your reasons for late are not really the schools concern.

I don't see how you were questioned in front of loads of parents when you were 20 minutes late, were they all just hanging around or was there loads of you who were late that day, meaning the staff were already pretty pissed off.

Katarzyna79 Thu 10-Mar-16 11:20:58


I don't think its the receptions business to know, unless it's form filling requirements. most people are late because they're up late or something unaccounted occurs i.e your husband was ill, childcare arrangements fall through. Also I know what you mean regarding babies and vomit, they do that especially if you've just fed them, and need to go out straight away. Of course they will, the food has not settled. My son used to do that just before a health visitor check up, always without fail all over his buggy or all over my carpet just as I was picking him up from a nappy change lovely right? lol

Relax it's not like you are always late, try not to let it upset your feelings.

GooseberryRoolz Thu 10-Mar-16 11:22:40

Sometimes clusterfucks happen.

I think I'd have raised my eyebrows at the cheeky baggage and asked for the late book.

mogloveseggs Thu 10-Mar-16 11:22:55

Sounds like that member of staff is a nosy beggar lol. Lateness with a new baby is sometimes unavoidable. Could you leave emergency dinner money to one side so if you're running late you won't have to sort dinner out? That's what we do if something delays us.

Splandy Thu 10-Mar-16 11:23:28

Haha, they're not usually random about timekeeping. Has just happened a couple of times. My son has probably been late once or twice a year during the past few years, so I'm aware that I need to take him to the office and sign the late book. That's not quite the same as being a frequently late person and knowing it all inside out. They do send back reports with green, Amber and red for lateness, absences etc. He's always been green. The register wouldn't have been closed today. The 'late' time I entered in the book was the school going in time. He would've been taken to the cloakroom while everyone else was taking off their coats.

Astrophe Thu 10-Mar-16 11:24:22

The school has a late register, all the office lady should do is direct you to that and follow through on any other procedures re lateness. It's not her business to know the reasons, let alone to ask publicly.

If there is a problem with lateness, the relevant staff member should speak with you -head teacher or whoever-not the office lady. I think she sounds like one of these people with a boring job and an over inflated sense of her authority.

Sorry you've had some bad mornings, OP. They can be unavoidable, no matter how well one plans. 3 baby vomits! Who would ever factor in enough time for that kind of delay!? And if you were only a minute or two late after all those setbacks, it sounds like you DO have some delay time factored in, because to sort out three go its and a poonami would add at least 20 minutes to my morning.

abbsismyhero Thu 10-Mar-16 11:25:08

i was asked why i was late by the staff i told them life happened this morning you're lucky we made it grin

AdrenalineFudge Thu 10-Mar-16 11:25:09

In fact, the staff member who greeted me then commented on the fact that I was doing well to have not been late more with a new baby

I don't think that member of staff should have said to you either. Being on time isn't something to celebrate. It sounds like you've just had a bad couple of runs, it isn't like you're late all the time.

Cacofonix Thu 10-Mar-16 11:25:20

Lateness is a huge burden on schools - very disruptive and doesn't teach children a good ethos about punctuality. Granted you say its only happened 3 times, maybe that's true. But you really do actually have to factor in time for poo explosions and three changes for baby. My kids have never been late for school. Ever. It's not rocket science - you organise yourself so you have extra time for unforeseen problems. I had one child in a full body cast and elaborate changing of nappies problems for three months. Eldest child was still at school on time. Everyday. So YABU because the office staff have to pull you up on it.

listsandbudgets Thu 10-Mar-16 11:25:24

Yesterday was unavoidable as you had to take him at the last moment when you werenn't expecting to.

However, babies get sick and poo at the most inconvenient of moments. To avoid this you need to pull your whole morning schedule forward with a view to arriving at least 10-15 minutes early to school not just on time. 40gives you a space if something goes wrong.

I do sympathise. Its hard. When DS was new born DP was working away most of the week and DD's school was about 45 minutes away by bus and foot. She needed to be in school for 8.30. We used to leave at 7.30 aiming to get to school at 8.15 - that was always fun after being up most of the night with a screaming baby. Sometimes the bus didn't come in time and we'd only just make it racing into the playground for 8.30 for dd to join the line. If I overslept poor ds used to get a jumper and snow suit bundled over his pyjamas before being stuffed in the pram and breastfed on the bus . How glad I am DP is home a lot more these days now. I was sleepwalking wreck a lot of the time

UsernameIncorrect Thu 10-Mar-16 11:25:48

She was a nosy cow. You get them everywhere.

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