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I Now HAVE To Have Evidence Of A Medical Appointment For EVERYTHING!! Ffs!

(85 Posts)
PurpleWolfe Tue 18-Mar-14 11:55:28

DS (7) brought home a letter from school yesterday "....DS's attendance has fallen to 89.62% for the academic year to date." "Blah, blah, blah.....I have been monitoring DS's attendance since the beginning of the academic year and it has continued to fall, month on month. As a result we will not be able to authorise any future absence without evidence of a medical appointment"! Signed by the headteacher.

I'm not angry - I'm fucking apoplectic!!! How bloody dare they!!! The headteacher knows me and knows I'm not a 'push-over' Mum! I've dragged DS in there lots of times (in tears) and had three way conversations with her and DS about how important it is to go to school and not say there's things wrong with him when there isn't! (He had a difficult time after the split from his Dad). I have three very strict criteria for keeping them home - either/and/or high temperature (have a very accurate 'in the ear' digital thingy), puking or the squits - and - unfortunately for me, I require evidence of the last two, not just their word for it (mostly due to DD's (12) fantastical claims of vomiting to get off school! See, I ain't falling for that ol' chestnut!). So, single Mum of three is going to have to trawl down to the Dr's for every raised temperature or dose of the runs??!! The Dr is going to be well chuffed with me, too!! I can't believe it, really. What makes my blood boil is that so many parents take their children out of school for holidays (not judging this action, btw, but have never done it myself) and seem to get away without any punishment at all - even members of the school staff do it ffs!!

I fully understand the implications on DS’s education brought about by reduced attendance. However, on each and every occurrence DS has been genuinely ill and therefore his capacity for learning is greatly diminished anyway – not to mention the fact that he would be passing on whatever illness he has to his classmates. On these occasions, had I sent him to school, the onus would have then been on the school to have to send him home again – as he was ill!! Oh, and, whilst I'm at it - how much crap will I get from them if I send him to school less than 48hrs after a bout of S or D!?!?!

I've had a long and successful relationship with this school (and headmistress) over the past 8+ years. Both my older children have been through the school without any attendance issues. I'm at the school every day, twice a day. Why did she not think to talk to me about this instead, and maybe try avoid this awful, punishing rule? I have had the basic 'Mum' decision of whether my child is too ill for school or not taken away! And, yes, I understand, too, that the 'flag' for this will have come from some sort of computer print-out and that it will be government guidelines to follow it up but - where does common sense come in? Where has the personal touch gone? Why is it not possible to take past knowledge of the family into consideration? Grrrrrrr!

DS is, on the whole, of good health. I have taken him to the Dr's in the past and he has been pronounced hale and hearty. He just seems to catch whatever is going round his school and his sibling's school. Just life, really.

I'm in the process of writing a letter of complaint about this. Calm, to the point and concise. (It's taking ages just to take the expletives out!)

This has all made me feel like a really bad parent and the next time they put a request out for friggin' cakes or donations.........!

Venting finished, rant over. Sorry. Ta.

Sheneverdid Tue 18-Mar-14 12:11:19

AND breath smile

It's just procedure. My Ds had several appointments during the first week back to school in Sept this year, which were beyond our control. It was either wait 6+ months for a new one or within school hours due to the departments closing by 4.30pm. His attendance dropped to 94.14% and we were passed on to the EWO so his attendance could be monitored even though the school were fully aware of why he was attending the appointments. 4 weeks later and we have been congratulated because his attendance is now above 95%.

As annoying as it is just ask whom ever is booking the appointment to send you a letter to confirm the appointment in the post, or if it is for the same day ask for an appointment card and get it photocopied next time you go in to school. I have heard that some schools are requesting 'sick notes' from GP's which they won't issue because Dc are not of working age. It's just another way for the government to control all aspects of our life.

PurpleWolfe Tue 18-Mar-14 12:25:38

Thank you Shen, feeling better now smile and breathing normally!

I understand it's just 'procedure'. I'm just struggling with the fact I will now have a 14 mile round trip for something to be 'diagnosed' by a doctor that any vaguely sensible parent can see easily - temp, runs, puke etc. Like I haven't got enough to do!

Thanks for your calming approach. smile

soundevenfruity Tue 18-Mar-14 12:43:18

I am quite a nervous parent so if my child regularly had diarrhoea and/or vomiting I would've checked that he washes his hands thoroughly and regularly and probably thought of having him checked for food allergies.

PurpleWolfe Tue 18-Mar-14 12:52:26

DS is really good at washing his hands Sound. He mostly goes down with raised temperatures. I was just using the S&D as an indication of how slight the illness would be for me to have to trek to the Dr's for some sort of 'evidence'. He has no allergies. Thanks.

slowcomputer Tue 18-Mar-14 12:59:21

The GP will require paying for any such letter as it isn't an NHS service so make sure the school pays for it not you.

LatteLady Tue 18-Mar-14 13:19:41

Ask the school where the DfE or the LA have decreed that you need to produce such evidence. The answer is that they don't, nor will they.

This is taken from the DfE School Attendance publication:

"Schools should advise parents to notify them on the first day the child is unable to attend due to illness. Schools should authorise absences due to illness unless they have genuine cause for concern about the legitimacy of an illness. If the authenticity of illness is in doubt, schools can request parents to provide medical evidence to support illness. Schools can record the absence as unauthorised if not satisfied of the authenticity of the illness but should advise parents of their intention. Schools are advised not to request medical evidence unnecessarily. Medical evidence can take the form of prescriptions, appointment cards, etc. rather than doctors� notes."

NHS England who manage the GP contract would descend into apoplexy if they were expected to tell GPs to write sick notes. I suggest you tell them that the GP will produce a letter, however your GP will expect the school to pay the administrative costs of c. �25 per letter and you will be furnishing the name of the school so that billing can take place directly.

As a Chair of Governors, if I discovered that my school was indulging in such behaviour there would be some very stern words between us. As others have said there is a lot of pressure on schools around attendance but this is no excuse for staff to over-step the mark and bully people. All that Ofsted and the Dep't want to see is that you have taken every step possible within reason to ensure attendance.

The request you have received is not reasonable.

PurpleWolfe Tue 18-Mar-14 13:33:24

Oh wow! Thank you Latte! I now have some facts to challenge their request! And you are right, I have felt 'bullied'. You are a star! grin x

teacherwith2kids Wed 19-Mar-14 17:27:01

In the run-up to a parent being prosecuted for non-attendance of their children, a school I worked at requested some evidence of illness for this child should it be claimed (attendance was below 80%, a typical pattern would be a day off, 2 days very late and 1 day on time for the regsiter each week).

The school accepted: evidence of appointment (an agreement had been set up with the surgery, with the help of attendance officers, by which they would confirm yay / nay whether an appointment had been made abnd attended), dated prescripton or dated label on medicine bottle etc (or, tbh, because it was a small family-type school, the evidence of the child with an evident temperature / sore throat etc produced for the school first aider / secretary/ all round rescuer to see). There was no expectation of a doctor's letter each time.

However, this was after a couple of years of poor and declining attendance and very much a last resort (it did go to court in the end). Not a first step.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 19-Mar-14 17:43:10

I'd email them photos of the toilet contents each time and tell them that that's their evidence.

ParanoidLucy Wed 19-Mar-14 22:20:25

They are being ridiculous and draconian as many schools just love to be. I would send them a sample if they are so desperate to see the evidence. I would only go to the GP if it was an illness I would visit them about anyway otherwise it's a ludicrous waste of the GPs time. TBH they can do naff all to insist on this ridiculous command so you could ignore it.

cory Thu 20-Mar-14 08:46:38

How can you get evidence of appointment when the surgery (quite rightly) refuse to see patients for ordinary D&V, because they don't want the infection spread to their vulnerable patients?

They will make out of hours to see D&V patients who do actually need to see a doctor, but there is no way the GP will stay at the surgery until midnight to get through a bunch of vomiting school kids he can't actually do anything for.

And of course there won't be any prescription: the "prescription" for D&V is "drink plenty of clear fluids and stay at home".

I think VivaLaBeaver has the perfect solution. That's more evidence than the GP would have to go on, and not putting anyone at risk.

magso Thu 20-Mar-14 09:00:34

Its probably a standard letter, with several signed by the HT at once. I once had an stroppy 'unauthorised absence' letter sent by mail for a day my Ds (5 at the time and with autism/SLD) had been excluded - so he was supposed to kept off!
Ds present (special) school got stroppy about ds attendance after an injury gained in school put him in hospital for several days and then required time off for recovery and physio. Its all statistically driven.
Annoyed for you too!

Technical Thu 20-Mar-14 09:02:08

It's not the school it's LEA guidance, but it won't/can't be enforced. The GP wont give you any such letter and you shouldn't take him to a surgery full of vulnerable patients anyway.

LatteLady Thu 20-Mar-14 11:48:27

Actually Technical, it is not the LAs who are driving this but the DfE led by the delightful Mr Gove. Until last September, HTs were given much wider discretion around absence, now the criteria have narrowed and this has spilled over to draconian monitoring of absence for whatever reason.

We have worked with parents to ensure that they know when a child is fit for school and much of the good work we had done would have been undone if we followed the OP's school procedures. Fortunately we have a sensible team in both the office and in our Leadership group, however there will always be some who take things to extremes.

Technical Thu 20-Mar-14 12:42:12

Yes, thank you Latte, my mistake. My point was it's not the school.

zipzap Thu 20-Mar-14 12:51:01

I would ring the doctor's surgery at a relatively quiet time and ask to speak to the practice manager about what their policy is about taking children in for a sick note when they have standard D&V bug, as school is now saying that you need to go to the doctor's should your dc be in this situation.

I am guessing that the practice manager will be pretty strongly opinioned on the matter as mentioned - you can then ask them nicely if they are OK with you telling the school in advance that you will not be able to take your child to the doctor if they have standard d&v as it is against the surgery's policy (particularly if it is sweeping through a school and there are loads of kids down with it I suspect). Also ask what they would charge for writing a note for other illness absences.

Then write to the head, asking them for confirmation that they will be paying the fee for the sick note directly to the doctor's surgery and also asking what you should do should your child have d&v given that you can't take them into the surgery as it is against their policy... And see what happens.

mrscog Thu 20-Mar-14 12:53:06

I think Viva's idea is a good one and as alluded to, as a lot of this is down to Michael Gove maybe you could copy him in as well -

mrscog Thu 20-Mar-14 12:53:41

And our Drs surgery would rage if you took a child in with D&V. They apply the 48 hour rule very strictly.

Martorana Thu 20-Mar-14 13:39:47

To be fair, 89% attendance over a year is 4 school weeks off......

cory Thu 20-Mar-14 17:35:08

Three weeks at the current stage of the school year, Martorana. Which could easily happen if a child has two bad flu bugs and a couple of D&V incidents. Which for a child with a slowly developing immune system is not beyond the realms of probability.

One flu bug and a couple of accidents resulting in hospital admission would also do the trick. Again, if you have a clumsy and accident prone child, this could well happen.

An immunology consultant once told me that from a medical pov up to a dozen virus infections in a year would not be considered abnormal in a child of primary school age- of course that doesn't mean most children of school age will ever get that, or that some of them won't be ill in the holidays or at weekends. But he refused to get excited about a child who had missed a few weeks off school due to virus infections.
I naturally was desperate and wanted him to do something. He told me there was no reason for my desperation and that there was nothing anyone could do except wait for the immune system to develop. His view was that Nature would deal with it in due time and that this was well withing the bounds of normal variation. My view was that I wasn't looking forward to having to remit that information to the headteacher. hmm

This is the problem: for some children the map does not accord very well with reality.

JellyBabiesSaveLives Thu 20-Mar-14 18:11:41

Yep, "medical evidence" doesn't have to be a doctor's note. I think photographic evidence of a medical problem should be adequate.

breatheslowly Thu 20-Mar-14 18:45:10

I think that zipzap's approach is a good one.

If you did take a child with D&V to the GP (if they were willing to see you), they would presumably ask what the problem was, record it and hope that you got out of the surgery without producing evidence. I can't see how that is much better than just telling the school yourself.

Nennypops Thu 20-Mar-14 20:58:54

In addition to asking the school to pay for any medical reports, point out the 14 mile round trip and say you will also expect them to pay for a taxi each way.

ZingSweetCoconut Thu 20-Mar-14 21:21:00


we had the same letter.
I was fuming.

all his absences were authorised - illness, school trip (!shock wtf!) and prearranged absence due to choir commitments (he is a chorister at a Royal Chapel).

In the letter I was asked to go in for a meeting to have a discussion about how his attendance could be improved.
I called the school and questioned what they meant by it, because short of a magic wand I can not possibly be in control of his health.
the whole conversation was fucking ridiculous.

the only way I could calm down was to remind myself that in Hungary having to provide a doctor's note was standard procedure, and we always had to ask for it.

but it's humiliating and fucking crap still

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