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Am I being unreasonable about this letter from school re: attendance?

(82 Posts)
HuckleberryGin Mon 25-Apr-16 12:17:10

For background- I used to be a teacher until last year, in the same trust of schools that my children attend. So I know that the Trust have been warned and under scrutiny for their attendance figures from LA and Ofsted.

Received a letter today from attendance manager with the usual "attendance is important for performance" stuff. At the end of the letter it then said that "children should not be kept off school for minor illnesses and that if parents are in doubt to send the children to school and let the school decide"

AIBU to think this is a daft policy? As it happens I do send my kids to school with straight forward colds etc. But I have also had them catch impetigo, hand, foot and mouth, D&V etc where perhaps other children aren't being kept off. Also school aren't medical professionals!

I'm contemplating an email, but need to see if IBU first!

Newmanwannabe Mon 25-Apr-16 12:20:22

They are opening themselves up wide to litigation. Like you say they are not health professionals. How can they decide whether a child is well enough for school, it is the parents call (unless the child is sent by parents and needs to go home.. Then they could send them home).

PennyDreadfuI Mon 25-Apr-16 12:26:40

YANBU, absolutely. Since when are we as parents not capable of deciding when DC aren't well enough to go in?! A few years ago DD had terrible impetigo (no doubt picked up from another child who ws forced to go in). It was all over her face and the doctor advised her to stay off for a week to allow it to clear up a bit so it wouldn't be infectious. The school weren't having any of it. She'd been off for a week already with flu and I was told I had to send her in, despite it also being the depth of winter with 3ft of snow on the ground and a three-mile round trip walk to school. Naturally she got bullied and her best friend caught it, too.

And while we're at it, don't even get me started on awards for attendance. Treats for kids who were lucky enough to not be I'll all year? That's nice angry

NotCitrus Mon 25-Apr-16 12:45:41

YANBU! That's not the schools role!
A message suggesting if in doubt, get the child ready for school and bring them along as often they brighten up when they get to school, would be fine, but can you imagine the waste of time if school were asked to assess a dozen children each morning and then track down their adults to take half of them home again?

Ds's school does attendance awards but if the parent phones to say the child is sick or has a medical/professional appt, then that counts towards attendance, so it's mostly just standard lateness that leads to lack of award. Bit harsh if it's the parent's fault rather than the child I suppose, but does seem to help ds get his arse in gear in the morning (once we were late as dd suddenly got ill on the way to school, and he was marked as not his fault for being late and still got a cert).

witsender Mon 25-Apr-16 12:49:58

Our school said similar, mainly to get the kids in for registration at least. And infect half the class at the same time, thus resulting in more illness and more absence. hmm

araiba Mon 25-Apr-16 12:53:29

its a blanket letter

people seem to forget how useless some people are and the letter is aimed at them

clearly d+v, the kid shouldnt go, but how many keep their kids off for feeling a bit ill

getyourfingeroutyournose Mon 25-Apr-16 12:54:21

I'm wondering if a large proportion of parents are keeping their kids off school for ridiculous reasons and they are aiming the letter at them... I think an email to let them know you are more than capable of dealing with your own childrens illnesses is all fair and well but there are a lot of people who seem to keep the kids off for anything.
It's not the same thing at all but I had to keep DS off nursery for over a month because he went from illness to illness and they thought I was being silly until I showed them the prescriptions from the doctor for the flu he started off with and then he fell down the stairs (worst day ever) and then another 2 different illnesses and then flu again! (Note he had his flu vaccination at the start of winter!) The kid just had a really bad run of it but they genuinely thought I was making it all up. It doesn't help when the school start breathing down your neck but I appreciate they need to get their attendance up somehow... they might be desperate.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 25-Apr-16 13:00:06

I think it's a tough one really. For every conscientious parent who is making decent choices about whether their children are fit for school, there's another letting their children stay off at the slightest complaint mainly because they can't be bothered to take them so it gives them an excuse, or children swinging the lead to gullible parents. I suppose it also balances with those that will put a sick child into school as they'd rather not have them at home or don't want to take time off work.

Our local primary had to inform parents that having your birthday is not a legitimate reason for not going to school hmm as it was rife.

Although I'd have more respect for schools attempting to make sure that children didn't miss valuable time at school if they didn't spend weeks at the end of term watching endless videos. I'm not saying don't do fun things sometimes (I have fond memories of being able to take games in on the last day of school) but don't turn it into a week long event.

Collaborate Mon 25-Apr-16 13:10:27

YABU. If you are not in any doubt they are not asking you to send the child in. Children should not be kept off for a mere headache. If you're a reasonable person and you think your child is too ill to go in, then keep them off. It's only those parents who keep the child off at the drop of a hat who should be worried by the new policy.

soapboxqueen Mon 25-Apr-16 13:11:01

Well it does say "if parents are in doubt" not "your child isn't ill until we say they are". If your child is ill, they are ill. If you aren't sure if they are pulling a fast one or not sure if they are really ill enough to be off, they want you to bring them in and see how they go.

As pp said, some people are useless and will keep children off for the most ridiculous reasons. The kids who are sick through the night and come to school anyway to pass on their germs, will be in regardless of any letter.

Permanentlyexhausted Mon 25-Apr-16 13:18:34

I can't actually see what the problem is.

They're not suggesting they are medical professionals or suggesting they know better than the parents. They are simply saying that in cases where parents aren't sure whether they are ok to be in school or not, the school is happy to make that decision.

MammaTJ Mon 25-Apr-16 13:40:38

Ha ha, they can go fuck themselves as far as I am concerned!

They know nothing about my DCs medical conditions, they care even less about the stress they are putting on DD about SATs and the migraines it is causing.

Yeah, back to what I said in the beginning, they can go fuck themselves!

Collaborate Mon 25-Apr-16 13:56:04

Ha ha, they can go fuck themselves as far as I am concerned!

Charming attitude to have about your child's school.

I wonder what they think about you? hmm

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 25-Apr-16 14:00:59

Doesn't anyone try to build resilience in their DC anymore?

Topseyt Mon 25-Apr-16 14:03:28

I suppose they are referring to those occasions when you feel 50/50 about whether or not your child is well enough for school, and it is aimed also at those parents who keep their children off at the drop of a hat.

We all get those occasions, and have known "those" parents. For my 50/50 days I quite often did send them in, and 80-90% of the time it was OK. I just used to say to the teacher that she wasn't quite right with a cold or something and to give me a call if it was a real problem. My three DDs have often had 100% attendance, and almost never below 98%. We are lucky in that they have no medical issues and are so rarely particularly ill.

It is a daft policy, but very probably aimed at the daft parents who keep their kids off for a mere sniffle. It sounds like a rather patronising generic letter that was probably sent out to all and sundry in the hope of having some of the desired effect on attendance rates. Unless I felt it was aimed at me personally I would ignore it and file it in the recycling bin.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 25-Apr-16 14:05:14

My DS has a friend at school who misses a lot of school. He has trouble sleeping so is up late (playing computer games) and is therefore "too tired" to go to school in the morning.

I can't help thinking that he would be more ready for sleeping of an evening if he got out of bed and did a full day in school instead of sleeping until lunch time and coming in in the afternoon. I'm therefore not surprised he is not tired and has trouble sleeping in the evening, especially when the lure of gaming is there.

I am probably being extremely unreasonable though.

DiggersRest Mon 25-Apr-16 14:06:37

Yanbu. I would be pretty fucked off tbh and I'd be emailing to let them know I'm more than capable of deciding if my dc is too ill to be at school. 'The school is happy to make that decision' ffs.

coffeeisnectar Mon 25-Apr-16 14:07:05

I presume this is a blanket letter sent to every parent. I have just got the attendance report for DD and it tells you what the equivalent days off are for the percentage rates. ie equivalent to one day missed a week/fortnight etc.

I do know parents who keep their kids off for the most ridiculous reasons (raining for instance, seriously know a woman who won't take their dd to school when it's pouring with rain because it's not fair to take her out in that kind of weather - I'm not sure if she thinks her child will melt or something but crazy anyway. Also keeps her off for her birthday, has extra days off for going away for a few days then wonders why the school are pissed off that her dd's attendance is down at 70%.)

I would ignore and accept that this letter isn't aimed at you. But is aimed at the families who keep their kids off because they have a slightly runny nose or a small cut on their hand or something daft. Just keep doing what you are doing and just keep the school notified of what your dc has when they are off.

gamerchick Mon 25-Apr-16 14:09:37

Our school does the same, send them in so the school can decide if they're Ill and then you can go collect them.

Next sick bug he gets I'm going to do just that - take him in complete with bowl. A good half an hour in reception, send him for his mark while he's puking should do it.

We're not allowed to parent our kids anymore, we should just turn them over to the state when they're born.

BertPuttocks Mon 25-Apr-16 14:18:30

Even after 10+ years of having at least one child in school, there are still times when I'm not sure whether or not to send them in.

They stay off for the obvious things (D&V etc), go in if they have an average cold, but sometimes it's not always obvious. One of mine always sounds like a 40-a-day smoker when they get a cold and has a horrible-sounding cough. Yet they always feel fine in themselves and are happy to go to school.

I'm left to decide whether to be judged for being the parent who keeps them off with what is essentially just a cold, or judged for being the parent who sends them in when they are coughing everywhere. I'd be quite happy for the school to make the final decision on those days.

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Mon 25-Apr-16 14:20:02

Ynbu. Teachers are not medics. Yes neither are a lot of parents, but still parents know their child better than teachers.
A mere head heaven forbid could be the beginnings of meningitis.

Maryann1975 Mon 25-Apr-16 14:27:47

Send an email. I am so fed up with schools views on attendance. It is hugely inconvenient to me if the dc need a day off becasue they are poorly. It means I either have to take a day off work, DH (who works nights) has to be responsible for the dc while not sleeping ready for work that night or we have to hope that one of the grandparents has a free day and can help out. It is much simpler if they are well and can go to school. But, if they are poorly, they shouldn't be at school, so I don't send them and deal with it as that is the right thing to do.
I work in childcare and feel really sorry for children who are sent in when they are clearly unwell and should be at home, resting and being quiet. So, I don't think it will be the class teachers pushing for this, more head teachers, stuck between a rock and a hard place, up against government targets and council officials.
Don't even get me started on the ridiculous attendance awards which our school has started giving out this year. Well done to all the children who have Been lucky not to be ill or need to go to the doctors during school hours and also had the good fortune to be born without a condition that needs regular appointments at the hospital to monitor and treat the condition (at least an hour to the specaislist hospital, they are generally always running late and then the pre tests, actual tests and explanation takes another hour or so, then an hour back home, means we always miss a registration session, no attendance awards for us ever).

TeenAndTween Mon 25-Apr-16 14:29:14

I have on a number of occasions sent DD2 in when 'borderline' with message to ring me if she gets worse. Only twice in 7 years have I had to collect her. Mainly she perks up once at school and distracted.

expotition Mon 25-Apr-16 17:30:10

YANBU, especially because the context of the letter makes clear that they have an interest in keeping attendance rates up and therefore have a conflict of interest in making the decision. So might you, but it is your responsibility not the school's not only to parent your child but to make sure s/he gets an education.

EveryoneElsie Mon 25-Apr-16 17:31:30

YANBU. Infectious kids should stay at home! My DS1 is allergic to most antibiotics and has to fight off any infections himself.

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