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To not understand the fuss over attendance?

(321 Posts)
CestLeWhy Thu 12-Jul-18 10:21:28

disclaimer: I didn't go through the state schooling system in the UK, DS is in reception, so I have no experience of school quotas/ funding/ social services. I'm not trying to be goady, I'm genuinely asking.

What is the fuss about attendance? I see so many posters proudly stating their kids have 100% attendance, and that is to be celebrated as it shows they are very conscientious, but why is it such a big deal?

DS just received his reception report and got 'Exceeding' in every category and glowing praise (not even a stealth boast, I am so proud) but his attendance was below 90%. So what? He's only 5. If he's poorly, which he is often, I keep him home rather than send him in for a miserable day for him and disruption to the class. A large chunk is also accounted for as we are from a different country so I take 2-3 days off a year for him to celebrate our cultural holidays. I think it's more important for him to grow up assimilating both cultures than attend every single day. I don't want to drip feed, we had a family emergency which caused some of the days off, but even without, his attendance would have been below 95%.

I can understand lots of reasons to monitor attendance: it can be a safeguarding indicator, it's important in higher years where they learn at a very fast pace etc but I just can't understand why it's considered so important in isolation for all year groups.

Educate me, please, MN!

Bloodyfucksake Thu 12-Jul-18 10:37:40

As far as I understand its one of these situations where some people took it too far, their kids were hardly ever in school and never on time and therefore didn't succeed at school.

Schools are now under pressure to make sure children attend as often as possible.

Your children will obviously do well. Some kids come out of school not being able to read and do simple maths. I think its those kids they are trying to encourage.

Thatssomebadhatharry Thu 12-Jul-18 10:38:40

Unfortunately in the UK the government deals with issues by focusing on stats and bringing these down. (I think they must have memos on SMART targets) So rather than deal with a tiny minority or parents who can't be arsed to get out of bed in the morning to take their kids to school they go after everyone. It wont ruin otherwise good children to be sick or even have a two week holiday (as long as it is not a particularly important time of year -not including primary testing as this is not really important) but the stats go down if they go after the good parents or the bad ones.
They do the same with the the benefit system again a tiny minority of claimants screwing over the system, but they go after everyone.

user1471468296 Thu 12-Jul-18 10:40:38

Low attendance can trigger an Ofsted visit in an otherwise well-performing school - that's why schools make a fuss over it.

upsideup Thu 12-Jul-18 10:42:04

I dont get the fuss either, my kids have every single year had attendance below 95% from holidays, illness and random days off but they needed and benefitted more from the days out of school than they would have in school.

OkMaybeNot Thu 12-Jul-18 10:45:08

Carry on as you are, it sounds like you're doing fine.

I pay absolutely no attention to the little percentage mark that comes home every year, which is always 'not ideal'. DS is exceeding targets, he's happy, adjusted, and he will stay home from school when he's ill.

chocolatestrawberries Thu 12-Jul-18 10:45:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

schoty77 Thu 12-Jul-18 10:50:07

I don't get it either. We're now in New Zealand and they don't care. DD often if off school (illness, a few mental health days) and as long as I send a note it's fine. Have also dealt with school system in the US and they weren't bothered either... must be a UK thing?

Fredthefrog Thu 12-Jul-18 10:52:26

What precious posters have said. Also if your child has chunks of time off even from year 1 they well miss some key learning which may not be covered again in the same or even that year. Maths topics tend to be split in to weeks so going a way for a couple of weeks means your child could miss that learning. It is also hard to teach on going things like story writing if children are continually popping in and out. However as you say no one wants an ill child in school so ypu have to weigh things up.

Bigkingdom Thu 12-Jul-18 10:52:57

I’m with you. I have no idea but usually those kids with 100% attendance are the ones forced to go to school ill and spread the germs to the rest. Us responsible parents keep our ill kids at home and do what a parent is meant to do, care for our own kids.

Jessicabrassica Thu 12-Jul-18 10:53:15

There's also a small matter of learning which happens in school. I've seen fb posts complaining that their child doesn't understand their homework. No. When the topic was taught, the child was playing at a water park somewhere hot and sunny whilst the rest of the class learned how to do long division. When the child returns from holiday, they need 1:1 sessions with a teacher or a TA to catch up on the work they missed. Teachers and TAs don't usually have spare capacity for this so other children have to ho without the support they need just because one child's parents chose to have a nice holiday in the sun.

LellyMcKelly Thu 12-Jul-18 10:54:22

Because they’re missing out on learning, because the teacher has to use already overstretched time trying to help them catch up, because it’s not just you doing it - half a dozen parents in every class think a cheap holiday or a day off every time little Johnny has a minor sniffle and that’s 6 kids behind with the curriculum that need help to catch up, because you think your rights as a parent outweigh your responsibilities as a parent. Just take your kids to school. They get 12 weeks off a year. That’s plenty of time for other activities.

ProfessorMoody Thu 12-Jul-18 10:54:39

I'm a tecaher and I'm against attendance rewards. I think they're appalling.

ProfessorMoody Thu 12-Jul-18 10:55:02


I am one, honestly grin

llangennith Thu 12-Jul-18 10:57:02

Schools are marked down if attendance is poor so they go on about it. Nobody else cares.

AliMonkey Thu 12-Jul-18 11:00:22

I agree with posters that the key issue is those with really low attendance, though there is a clear link between attendance and achievement in the stats, even at low level of absence, eg see But agree it's less of an issue in reception and KS1.

My DC have always had really good attendance, but we're just lucky that they have hardly ever been ill - and it's probably fair to say that if I was a SAHM I would have let them stay at home for eg bad cough but, as I'm not, they went to school (obviously doesn't apply if eg they had D&V). But I am amazed by one of DS's friends who has had 100% attendance throughout their seven years at primary - how can a child never ever be ill on a school day?

But I do feel that the whole "publicly celebrate attendance with awards in assembly" thing is just wrong - eg a child with ongoing medical issues may do really well to get to 80% whilst another with no such issues might be doing badly to get 90%. The schools should instead be focussing on those with really low attendance where there is no good reason, not on those with good reasons for their days off.

PerfectlySymmetricalButtocks Thu 12-Jul-18 11:03:17

DD was once off for 5 days with Dr & V, I got a shitty, very harshly worded letter from school, I pointed out to the attendance officer that if I'd received that letter when DS1 was in hospital (cystic fibrosis) I'd have cried. She said they'd have taken steps to make sure he didn't get ill. Wonderful understanding of CF there. I told DS 27, he said "My consultant would love to know her secret." hmm

PumpkinPie2016 Thu 12-Jul-18 11:03:28

Schools are under a lot of pressure to keep attendance above certain levels so that's why they are so keen on it.

As a teacher, if a child is genuinely ill then of course they should be off and I will do all I can to help them to catch up.

Holidays however are a massive bug near of mine! There are 13 weeks of school holidays to go away and yes it is expensive but save up or go somewhere cheaper!
It makes me even more annoyed when parents want work setting the child will miss - just send them to school and they can do it with everyone else angry

PolkerrisBeach Thu 12-Jul-18 11:03:47

Below 90% is quite low though, if you break the school week up into 10 attendances a week, one morning and one afternoon each day, that's equivalent to missing more than half a day each and every week.

That's a lot of absence, however you want to spin it. I do agree that some degree of absence is inevitable - kids get sick. Some kids with medical conditions get sicker more often and for them the 100% attendance is unachievable.

But alarm bells should definitely be ringing for a child dropping under 95%, especially if there are no serious underlying conditions. OP says a "couple of days" off for cultural holidays but that would still mean attendance of 98% plus. In my experience, some parents do keep kids off with a slight sniffle or cough, if I kept mine off for every slight cold they'd never be there.

IntercontinentalButtCrack Thu 12-Jul-18 11:06:37

1. There is a large body of verified evidence that shows kids who miss school more have worse outcomes educationally.

2. The state (i.e. Our taxes) are paying for the staffing and facilities whether the kids attend or not, so in a sense kids who miss school are costing us all money for nothing

3. Low attendance disproportionately affects kids on low incomes, looked after children, and children who have safeguarding concerns, so the monitoring of attendance is especially important for this children, but must be fairly applied to all children to avoid discrimination

4. If you still decide to keep you child home that's up to you. You may be fined, but for a lot of parents that's a trade off they are willing to make.

5. There is lots of verified evidence that giving percentages for attendance, talking about it and encouraging it means kids attend school more

6. Yes, ofsted look at it, because it's crucial to good outcomes for the vast majority of children, and especially so for disadvantaged children. Every child matters, and it would be very wrong for the education system to not give importance to the thing that has the most impact on outcomes, whichever is attendance.

7. All the school improvements and high quality teaching in the world won't help kids have good outcomes if they aren't in school to participate.

8. Low attendance in reception year actual year has a bigger impact than subsequent years. This is attributable to slight differences in reading and writing then having a knock on effect that's is really hard to catch them up on as they move upwards through the school.

Disclaimer: By good outcomes I do not mean academic testing. It applies across social and emotional development, art, music etc. There's are stats to back all this up that you can hunt out via ofsted if you're really interested. Kids who are ill should not generally be in school but schools are obliged to be proactive in finding out why kids are off school because parents have been known to tell fibs about the reasons!

PirateWeasel Thu 12-Jul-18 11:07:04

What @Thatssomebadhatharry said. You're not the type of parent and your DC is not the type of child that this is intended for. It's meant to discourage the small minority from taking the mickey. Like employees in the workplace, kids should be in school unless there's an excellent reason for them not to be. Illness is an excellent reason. Unfortunately there are lots of stupid reasons why some kids (and employees!) end up not going in.

Ammst3rdaammm Thu 12-Jul-18 11:07:21

Attendance is monitored in the world of work too, so I think that it's good to start early. If you don't attend school and don't achieve good grades, it has an impact on your life as an adult

CestLeWhy Thu 12-Jul-18 11:10:42

Thanks everyone, I understand it's hard to argue w statistics, so every absence is important for the school, but parents get so het up over them too.

Cadencia Thu 12-Jul-18 11:11:14

My DD has a 100% record this year. I must admit to feeling a little proud about it. Not as proud as I am about the 'exceeding expectations' she has received, but I think it shows that both she and I prioritise the importance of going to school, and I see that as a positive thing. Obviously, it also shows that she's lucky and is very rarely ill.

unintentionalthreadkiller Thu 12-Jul-18 11:11:37

My kid's attendance is 93% for the year (reports came home yesterday) they were off for a long time as very ill with chicken pox and the spots wouldn't scab over, and then a virus that kept them off another couple of days.

I don't care as I know they are genuine reasons but they are really upset they are not going to get the attendance treat - which is a trip to the local park to eat ice cream.

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