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Can the school legally ask for a Doctors sick certificate for absence

(45 Posts)
lateSeptember1964 Tue 02-Dec-14 08:55:54

I have received a letter from the school stating that DS recent absence has to be be covered by a sick note/certificate from my Doctor. If I fail to produce the certificate then his absence will be treated as unauthorised. Are they allowed to do this?

My concerns are that sick certificates are usually issued after several days absence. Secondly there will be a cost for a sick note as it falls outside of the NHS remit. As a healthcare professional I am very conscious of the Government Directive for cutting GP hours. I may have to wait 48hrs for an appt resulting in extending his time off school. I know the school are meeting their targets but surely no law has been passed stating parents have to conform to this?

Surely if I phone in an absence he can not just be classed as unauthorised.

SockDrawer Tue 02-Dec-14 09:01:10

Are you able to give a few more details? Has he been off now for a long time? Or has he had many individual cases of absence from school?

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Tue 02-Dec-14 09:08:28

I don't know but my doctor was extremely cross about being asked for a bottle of Piriton with a pharmacy label on when ds's school insisted on it. I think his exact words were ' For goodness sake what are all these ridiculous time wasting exercises schools insist on? Tell them not to waste my time' shockgrin

So I told the school and that was the end of that and they made do with the bottle I bought from tesco, so I would suggest that you just ignore it and see what happens.

lateSeptember1964 Tue 02-Dec-14 09:46:17

Thanks for responding. He has had absences on two occasions since September. The first for a stomach bug 2 days and then a cold for 2 days.

Unexpected Tue 02-Dec-14 09:58:38

Nonsense. I would ask them to point you towards the relevant legislation which says you have to produce a medical cert for this absence. No need to be nasty about it though - you can say that you will need it in order to persuade the overworked doctor to produce a cert for you under these circumstances! If he is ready to go back to school though, I would send him, no need to wait for the doctor's appointment (and I would be surprised - pleasantly - if you even manage to get a non-emergency appointment within 48 hours). When school fail to produce the relevant bit of legislation, I would also ask them to confirm that they will be meeting any cost levied for the production of this medical cert for absence as you can't afford it!

duplodon Tue 02-Dec-14 10:01:48

While there is never any need to be nasty, I wouldn't be pretending I agreed this was necessary either and that it was just a Mean Old Doctor being disobliging.

DontPushTheButton Tue 02-Dec-14 10:52:24

Would the doctor even agree to a sick note for a cold? And if the doctor did, wouldn't the child have to have been seen at the time? And who takes a child to the doc for a cold?! Otherwise the note would say 'mum says they had a cold. Hath' which is what the school has anyway from you. Madness!

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Tue 02-Dec-14 10:55:16

Duplodon - it was more exasperation than being mean, it made me laugh. I went back to the school and told them the doctor said it wasn't necessary especially as we already had a care plan and they were welcome to ring the surgery if they wanted to- but they didntwink

WillkommenBienvenue Tue 02-Dec-14 11:01:41

I just gave the school details of my GP and told them I'm sure the GP would be happy to give them a certificate if that's what THE SCHOOL wants.

I did get one from an overworked A&E consultant another time, much to my shame, because I felt so bullied by school and thought they wouldn't believe us if we didn't have one.

lateSeptember1964 Tue 02-Dec-14 12:41:56

Thank you everyone. I will ask for the legislation while pointing them to Government legislation on cutting the paper workload for GP's. Then I will give them permission to seek a sick cert directly from GP informing them that there will be a cost.
My only worry is that my phoning in or writing as per school policy will still result in an unauthorised absence. Or do you think this a threat which will be dropped once they have no ground?

lateSeptember1964 Tue 02-Dec-14 12:45:09

While I don't want to think this is personal I do think I have been singled out. My older son has had poor school attendance due to undiagnosed then diagnosed severe Crohns disease. Life has been in turmoil and eventually we have had to deregister him and put in place Home Schooling.
I really think this attendance officer now thinks we are disappearing off for long weekends.
Obviously I won't say this to her but it does feel like that.

PausingFlatly Tue 02-Dec-14 12:46:53

I'm always tempted to suggest a letter to the school saying they are very welcome to have THEIR doctor visit and certify the sick child, but you won't be wasting NHS time on the school's admin issues.

Hurr1cane Tue 02-Dec-14 12:49:38

Seriously? My DS was off all of last week, for the entire week, because he was in hospital. School sent a get well soon card but didn't once suggest that he needed to doctors note confused

Hurr1cane Tue 02-Dec-14 12:50:00

And I've never asked for one as a teacher in my entire career.

youarewinning Tue 02-Dec-14 12:54:00

dame my DS school had a named bottle saying to give as directed by consultant!with a care plan and his epipen. When Consultant said DS needed the medicine 4 times a day to control his allergies school insisted he needed another identical bottle with this stated on. Wouldn't even accept the consultants report from the consultation as proof yo give daily.
My GPs reaction that that was unforgettable grin

I agree we need more info OP.

WillkommenBienvenue Tue 02-Dec-14 12:54:04

You are probably noted for having lots of absences and schools are probably checked to ensure that they have made sure that parents are being honest with them.

Just make sure they have copies of any appointments that you do get paperwork for, even if it's just an appointment card, other than that they should have to contact the doctor themselves. It's ridiculous really.

youarewinning Tue 02-Dec-14 12:55:46

Oh sorry x posts. Yes it does seem to be they have personal suspicions if there is a school policy that just requires a phone all and note.

WillkommenBienvenue Tue 02-Dec-14 12:58:44

youare the dispensing of medications is written up in some rule somewhere as I had a row with school about it and the head sent me the paperwork with it highighted. It's a health and safety issue to ensure that your child's medication is dispensed correctly by staff.

It's still a crock of shite though and anyone with half a brain would know that you're not in the business of overdosing or undermedicating your child and if you were that would be a CP matter so feel free to call SS.

All they need to do is take the parent's word for it and leave that responsiblity with the parent. Doctors do it so why can't schools.

Pointlessfan Tue 02-Dec-14 13:05:38

I used to be a head of year with responsibility for attendance. In rare cases we do ask for doctor's notes but usually if a child had very low attendance, EWO involvement and prosecution is on the cards (Education Welfare prosecute rather than school). Even if you do need a doctor's note you can call/write in as usual and submit the doctor's note when you have seen the doctor, school can authorized it then.
I feel your pain though, once when I was off leading up to a holiday school requested a sick note but the doctor wouldn't write one as I hadn't been off work long enough. It was a right pain!

youarewinning Tue 02-Dec-14 13:11:00

I know! I work in school and am a trained medicine dispenser! We have umpteen checks to do before dispensing it. These are recent changes tho. This incident was 5 years ago. What was confusing was te bottle "as directed by consultant". Which try were happy to give a double dose in a reaction as directed by consultant in care plan. But not 5ml at lunchtime as directed by consultant in latest plan iyswim?
Didn't help that the receptionist wasn't the nicest person on the planet to start with.
AND that when my DS was given the epilen school were all "oh we are trained --off you trot--" about it and said they'd call school nurse in to redo care ok an and they'd "let me know if I'd be invited yo that meeting".

I should probably have got over it by now grin

prh47bridge Tue 02-Dec-14 18:14:40

Are they allowed to do this?

Yes they are.

Contrary to the opinions expressed up thread, schools do not need legislation permitting or directing them to do this. There is no legislation preventing them from doing this therefore they are able to do it (and would argue that they are fulfilling their responsibilities under the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations).

Whilst there is nothing to stop a school doing so, they should not adopt a policy requiring a doctor's note for every absence. They should only ask for a doctor's note if your child's absence is long term or repeated, or they have grounds for believing that the sickness is not genuine.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 02-Dec-14 18:17:46

We do this where attendance is very low. We wouldn't for two two day absences.

Pelicangiraffe Tue 02-Dec-14 18:31:36

Your DS has only had 4 days off this term - is that about 94% attendance - so not too far off average attendance this academic year. School sounds very pedantic. I would write and ask why they are demanding you waste GP time when your DS has only had 4 days off ill to date. Ask for the legislation permitting them to demand a note and suggest they pay for the note out of school funds if they they must

Pelicangiraffe Tue 02-Dec-14 18:33:13

Some of the kids I worked with had properly low attendance - 20% or 65%.

Pelicangiraffe Tue 02-Dec-14 18:39:36

At the end of the day, you are the boys parent and it's up to you to decide if DS is well enough or not. The school can either accept your word as truth or kick a fuss up. Your son doesn't belong to the state or the school. The states/schools ideas about attendance levels, education etc are all subjective

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