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Threatening letter from school regarding DD's attendance

(265 Posts)
Sofi88 Fri 15-Nov-19 06:38:25

We received a letter from DD's school yesterday saying DD's attendance is below average, and hence not good enough and had to be improved. The letter was threatening, and the words "Be Careful!" was highlighted in huge letters. The letter goes on to say that we have to make sure DD is in school every day from now on, so that her attendance improves. It also states they may contact the Education Welfare Officer if it does not improve.

Thing is though, DD has been off sick ONE day in the period this letter refers to, and I have picked her up early to go to medical appointments three times. One of these times I picked her up at 12 (only available appointment), but the other two I picked her up at 3:20 - ten minutes before I was due to pick her up anyway.

DD has a medical condition, which she has so far been treated for by her GP and a specialist nurse. She has actually had less appointments than normal this term, due to her now being transferred to a specialist paediatrician at the hospital. Our first appointment there is in December, so her GP and the nurse have told us to simply wait for that appointment unless there are any concerns in between. The school knows about her condition.

And also, she had one day off due to illness, where we phoned in and explained she was too ill to go in, which they said they were fine with. DH then went in at 3:30 to pick up her homework. Apart from this one day and the three times I've had to pick her up early due to medical appointments, she has had no absence!

Doesn't my child have a right to get treated for her condition, as well as a basic right to stay home when she is too ill to go in? Apart from this letter, we haven't received anything else - like them asking for medical evidence, doctor's notes etc. We have simply got the impression everything has been done right. The teacher has not mentioned anything when I've picked her up early for a GP appointment. You'd think they ask for medical evidence before sending out a threatening letter like this? A note from her GP would be no problem at all to provide. Would be a lot nicer to have them ask for that, rather than this threatening letter!

Does anyone know anything about this?

Singlebutmarried Fri 15-Nov-19 06:41:30

I had the same letter after a bout of chicken pox.

Work out the percentages as it works on sessions that they are registered for so a day is 2 sessions.

We missed 8 sessions due to the pox. It bought the attendance down. But this was in term 1 so by the end of the year it was back to above the required level.

Fairymad Fri 15-Nov-19 06:43:02

Did it have the feel of a generic letter, as we got one warning us to watch my dd's absences only they sent it 2 weeks after the summer term ended!
Otherwise I would talk to the attendance officer (or equivalent) to get it put on her record about the preexisting condition she requires regular treatment/appointments for.

Sotiredofthislife Fri 15-Nov-19 06:43:22

It will be routine. Don’t worry about it. Keep a note of appointments etc as evidence but schools are obliged to follow up on absence and show they are trying to manage absence.

shearwater Fri 15-Nov-19 06:44:01

Do they know about her medical condition?

I'd just email back basically what you've said here. Remain polite. Start with "I was disappointed to receive the letter dated x regarding my daughter's attendance record."

I know schools have to worry about and keep an eye on attendance but this does seem disproportionate and heavy-handed of them.

WaterSheep Fri 15-Nov-19 06:44:36

So she could only have been marked as absent for 1 day and one afternoon?

If so yes the letter seems very heavy handed. Did it specifically name your DD, did it come home in her bag, or was it sent via the post? I'm just wondering if it has been sent home with the right child.

thaegumathteth Fri 15-Nov-19 06:44:59

I hate the automation of these letters - we got one once because dc has been off a lot. I agree but it was because they had whooping cough and were seriously not up to school!

Soontobe60 Fri 15-Nov-19 06:45:03

You can ask school to provide you with a copy of her registration. Thatbwill show her actual attendance in days and %. We look for attendance below 90% to trigger a warning letter.
Being picked up 10 minutes before home time will not count, as she will have received her mark for the afternoon session. A day off sick is 2 sessions and being picked up at 12 will be 1 session. How many times has she been late? They count towards absences. Being 5 minutes late after registration may count as a half day absence.

Fatted Fri 15-Nov-19 06:46:26

It's likely a generic letter. Our school sends out emails about attendance, good and bad. Problem is I only get them for my eldest. Absolutely nothing about my youngest.

Rainwilds Fri 15-Nov-19 06:46:30 kids have been off poorly LOADS since September. I wouldn’t give it headspace.

Sofi88 Fri 15-Nov-19 06:46:32

I know they have to be strict about attendance, and I agree with that. I would never take her out of school for a holiday or anything like that. But shouldn't they separate absence due to illness and unauthorised absence? And then send letters like this to parents whose children have unauthorised absence, and rather ask for medical evidence from parents like us? She's allowed to be off sick, but going on holiday during term is not ok, is what I mean

TheSecretJeven Fri 15-Nov-19 06:47:24

The school will be monitored by their LEA or equivalent for absence or sickness levels, so its possibly an automated process. At this stage of the term you might have hit a trigger point which you wouldn't have done this time next month or term. I heard of a child with 50% school attendance but the context was that the report had been drawn up on the second day of school and they'd only missed one day of school (to attend the meeting in question) but the bare figures looked dreadful.

Reachedsohigh Fri 15-Nov-19 06:47:33

So she's had one and a half days off since September? What percentage was on the letter?

Sofi88 Fri 15-Nov-19 06:48:05

We have never been late! I'm actually quite stressed about being late, and we are always amongst the first to arrive when the gate opens. And yes, they know about her condition. We had a meeting with her teacher before she started. She's in Reception

AmIThough Fri 15-Nov-19 06:48:11

You'll probably find the letter was sent as standard by the admin team who send a generic letter to all parents with children who have absences.

Was the letter signed by someone on behalf of someone else?

If it had the head teachers name or whatever in the signature area, I'd write to them and just explain the circumstances and that you understand the school has to follow circumstances but that you've communicated well with them in the past and hope to continue your good relationship while your daughter gets the medical support she requires.

You'll probably get an apology and reassurances.

Russell19 Fri 15-Nov-19 06:48:34

Just to clarify the teacher will not have written the letter or have much to do with it. That is office/head teacher work, attendance is over the teacher's head. So please do not be annoyed with the teacher not giving you a warning.

If your daughter has a medical condition it may be useful to get involved with the EWO anyway. It's not necessarily a bad thing.

Reachedsohigh Fri 15-Nov-19 06:48:51

Authorised and unauthorised absence is counted the same for attendance figures. Sickness and holiday isn't separated.

ThisIsNotARealAvo Fri 15-Nov-19 06:49:13

What was her attendance? What percentage does she have? If it goes below 95 (in our LA) then it's cause for concern.

PastTheGin Fri 15-Nov-19 06:49:19

This is more than likely an automatically generated, generic letter triggered by a certain percentage of absence.
I would reply to the form tutor, head of Year and SenCo, reminding them of your dd’s preexisting condition and then forget about it and carry on as usual.
If you get referred the school will probably be told off for their heavy handedness...

Sofi88 Fri 15-Nov-19 06:49:19

THe attendance percentage is 95.83% which I'd say is quite good, but to them it's too low apprently

Reachedsohigh Fri 15-Nov-19 06:50:23

That's more than a day and a half since September. Ask to see the attendance record.

ThisIsNotARealAvo Fri 15-Nov-19 06:50:36

It's not good attendance if it's around the 95% mark.

PastTheGin Fri 15-Nov-19 06:51:14

I think your school’s threshold might be 96%. The threshold in my children’s school is 98%.

Sofi88 Fri 15-Nov-19 06:51:48

But what I've mentioned here is all the absence she's had. Is it possible she hasn't been registered one day, or something like that? Like a mistake on their part?

WaterSheep Fri 15-Nov-19 06:52:58

95.83% doesn't represent 1 1/2 days off since September.

Ask to check her attendance record.

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