To write back in defence to Head?(75 Posts)
So the school my kiddies go to has a new Head Teacher this year. It is a small, gentle primary school that has always been very nuturing, but I, together with many other parents are finding the new Head difficult. My DD is a bright happy child who does well academically, sports wise etc. at school. At the very beginning of term, she picked up a diarrhoea bug and poor thing was very sick with it and was off school for just over a week (school policy being 48 hours after the last diarrhoea or vomit). I spoke to school daily to keep them in the loop and also requested for work to be sent home - but none came.
Last week I recieved THE most extraordinary letter from the new Head saying shed been reviewing attendance and DD attendance for the first half of term was 76% ( 7 out of 60 something days) and the government recommendation was 95% to ensure she was keeping up academically. She said in a very threatening tone that she personally would be keeping an eye on DDs attendance henceforth and if it was not up to scratch DH and I would be hauled in to defend ourselves to her AND the school homelink worker (with vague further threats)!!!
I think the thing that has riled me the most is that when DD was ill I actually went in and talked to the Head about it because I was so worried about DD.
It's not as if we had gone on holiday or I just felt like keeping DD at home for shits and giggles, or that the Head didnt know about WHY Dd was off - she was genuinely very sick.
AIBU if I were to write a pretty strongly worded letter in defense telling this new Head where to stick it? Am positively raging, or is this normal practise? The old Head teacher would never ever have done anything like this when a child was ill, so AIBU because essentially we've been spoiled and this type of letter is normal practise regardless of the reason for absence?
Can you go above this new Head (board?)and reply thanking Head for their concern, but as you explained to Head on (date & time) , your daughter had been off once with serious illness and you find it insulting that despite the fact you went in and requested work home, the Head thinks its appropriate to raise this issue again. Explain politely your daughters previous awesome attendance record and suggest the Govts recommendation does not include extended cases of illness such as this.
Likely its a system-generated letter, I'd be pissed off with this too.
I think you may find its a system generated letter with the head's name on it. Generally, the rule is to ignore the letter if there has been a genuine reason for being off.
My head pulled me aside last week so warn me that a letter may be on its way as my DD2's attendance has dropped below 90%. As she has been genuinely ill twice this year so far, I will be forwarding the letter into the best place for it ..... the bin.
I would write a very stiffy worded letter reminding her of the fact you went to see her and that the work you requested for DD was not forthcoming.
I'd also add a sentence at the end stating that you found the tone of her letter far too pointed and that in future you'd appreciate the use of less accusatory / threatening language as it is unnecessary .
I don't go looking for 'fights' like this but I also don't like people thinking they can speak to me however they think they will. My Father is the same he would always call people out if they pissed him off.
I don't mean just randomly starting some sort of war of words but call her put and make her justify her threats to your face.
It sounds like she's trying to make her mark and needs a bit of a wing clipping, just like showing a toddler the boundaries!
I would write, yes. First school should have marked your child as sick (possibly did) but also to have this letter on file, in case there is a future query. We received a similarly worded letter after a hospital stay for a problem which was started from an injury at school - also early in the school year so it upset the attendance stats. It might be a standard letter as the threats sound similar, perhaps the new head, being new is doing things by the book and has sent out several such letters for every child with below the government recommended attendance and not realised that it has also gone to children who were sick!
Thanks all - its kind of how i felt too like shes trying to stamp her mark! Ive just been so angry because the entire letter is just so threatening i didn't want to just write one of those angry letters and then end up regretting it for the rest of my life!
Some brilliant suggestions here too, thank you!
The head won't have personally written the letter, it will have been sent to anyone with below the required attendance (and yours was very below, hence you got the very stern version).
Lots of pressure on schools to improve attendance and if now you decided to take your kid for 2 weeks in Ibiza they would be able to say you were warned and escalate appropriately, where they couldn't if you hadn't been warned.
It's all very impersonal, even though it feels very personal.
Please don't expect work home. If a child is sick, then let them get well. Let them read, or read to them or with them, that's about it. Sending home worksheets, apart from being a ridiculous amount of work for the teacher to compile, which generally never gets done, is not going to actually help your child learn anything.
I just was about to say what MidniteScribbler said! If your DC are ill they are ill and in no state to be doing school work. Maybe a little bit of reading together at most. Let them get better.
Deep breath and ignore...
And don't ask the teacher for work for your poorly DC!
I would definitely write back pointing out that the school knew very well the circumstances of your dc's absence. Its important that you put it on record just in case there are further repercussions or your dc has another bout of illness at some time
People will be along soon to defend it and tell you not to take any notice because the sniffy tone and threats are intended for neglectful parents, not you, but personally I think that's a shit argument.
If she'd only been of 7out of 60"days then it would be just under 90%.
She'd need to have missed around 15 days to have that percentage.
I'd query the maths.
There is a huge push nationally on attendance. The only days my Ds has missed he has been sent home from school (he was fine in the morning). We still had a gentle reminder about attendance at parents evening.
The first half term would have been 30 something days (6 ish weeks).
...or I just felt like keeping DD at home for shits and giggles
Well, maybe not giggles
Attendance is measured in sessions not days. 7 days is 14 sessions (morning and afternoon).
I would bat it back to them and ask for their infection control strategies to prevent these things spreading around school. are they ensuring that children wash hands etc.
i would aslso ask whther thye are aware of the effect of calculatig percentages atthe beginning of the year as mathemeatically each absence is worth a greater percentage as there have been fewer days to calculate.
The first half term would have been 30 something days
They work in sessions don't they? So, 60 sessions.
Just over one week could be 7 days, 14 sessions, which gives the 76%
I would write back.
I am sure it is a standard letter. However, the system isn't working if the letter ignored the fact that you have already discussed this with the head.
It's a complete waste of time ad money to send out warning letters that will create bad feeling on the assumption that most parents are going to ignore them.
Please don't go asking the teacher for work DD has missed out on, They are busy and overworked enough as it is!
If your child is so sick that they can't go to school, I really wouldn't ask for work to be sent home!
Ignore the lette-it's a standard one sent out by the office.
Drives me nuts this attendance thing. My friend's daughter is a high achiever, potential Oxbridge candidate and they got a letter from the school about attendance after daughter had had some serious health issues. We've just had one about our younger DS age 16 having 92% attendance. He'd had a stomach bug.
What on earth are we as parents supposed to do if our children are sick - the whole thing is ludicrous. I do think though that it's a standard thing - attendance drops below a certain figure and a letter gets automatically generated.
Our school have automatically generated letters that have to be sent or they face sanctions from the LEA.
When my daughter was off for 8 weeks, they actually phoned to say a rather stern (aka really quite threatening and rude) letter was coming to me but to basically ignore the message and tone because they were already working with us to get eldest back to school.
I would certainly check if your school are tied by the same red tape before challenging the letter. They may think that you'll ignore the tone precisely because you have been in open communication about your DD.
If not and your head is just on an ego trip then escalation as per other posts would definitely be my next steps.
It's not an ego trip - it's an automatically generated letter that the system requires the head to send. Fume at home, get it out of your system, then ignore it. There's no point writing back.
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