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School sent threatening letter about 4yo son

(33 Posts)
Anyusername Tue 05-Apr-16 00:05:35

Hi Mumsnet people,

I never posted on here before but here goes. I had the miss fortune of waking up to a nasty letter about my sons attendance, they said it was just under 90% but I can see they made an error on the form and his attendance is actually just over 90%. He is 4 in the reception year and I only kept him off when he has been ill. The school sent me a letter saying the school and the local authority are monitoring his attendance because his attendance is under 90%. I rang the local authority and they told me that because he is 4 he is not even compulsory age anyway. The school letter says those who achieve under 90% each year are classes as persistent absentees yet he has only been at school 7 months. The letter was sent on the second and I remember the receptionist was not pleased with me because I had a grumble because I had to wait whilst getting my son for a dentist appointment because she was dealing with paperwork , after waiting 5 minutes I told them my concern I am going to be late for dentist app, they told I am ignorant and I replied with I told them the day before that I would be collecting my son early, no apology, just told me they never got the message. Could the school be acting in a sinister way because of the dentist situation? I would never imagined that attendance is closely monitored for 4 year olds in reception years and the local authority told me themselves there is no legal requirement, even though I have sent him whenever he has been well,

Thoughts please?

VinceNoirLovesHowardMoon Tue 05-Apr-16 00:07:38

It's automatic. Don't take it personally, just bin the letter and shrug.

GraysAnalogy Tue 05-Apr-16 00:10:05

It's automatic and I think I'm right in saying they're obligated to send something like this to warn you. It's not a slight against you personally smile

Nobodyspecialanymore Tue 05-Apr-16 00:20:07

I wouldn't put up with that! Did they actually call you ignorant!
Can you change school?

jeanne16 Tue 05-Apr-16 07:04:48

Schools are under massive pressure to keep attendance above 90%. This is looked at by Ofsted Inspectors and could affect their overall rating. Parents always want schools with Good or Outstanding ratings so need to do their bit to help the school.

NaughtToThreeSadOnions Tue 05-Apr-16 07:52:40

Yes even though they don't have to monitor attentence until the term after the child's 5th birthday, most tend to treat reception in the same way as the rest of the classes as there will be 5 year olds in that class. It really does sound like the standard automatic warning letter there are many threads about them on here.

I do think having a grumble about being kept waiting when the secretary is by your own admission busy is a little rude, sorry but I do, school office staff are often head teachers PA School Business Managers, first aiders, and a. Million other things, I appreciate that you were worried about the time but maybe allow a bit longer in future? It's a learning process for you as well as your son.

nobody over reaction you'd change school cos you exchanged 'words' with some one who works there. Good grief!

LIZS Tue 05-Apr-16 07:56:58

You probably signed an attendance policy which agreed to this. Also appointments to be kept outside school hours unless emergency. Tbh at 4 I wouldn't worry overly.

Hi op, please take this with a pinch of salt.
My dd is in reception too and her attendance was terrible up until February when she was finally diagnosed with asthma and received different medication.

School sent numerous letters out and I went to see them and explained that i was very aware of the importance of attendance but my dd had been ill enough to warrant her absence, it was under 80%.
My ds has been through same school and now in secondary and they know how good his attendance always was and that I'm not the type to keep dc off for no reason etc but it's procedure.

I then explained that I was aware that dd would not reach compulsory school age until the term after she turned 5. She was 5 in February so will be compulsory as of next Monday.
However, this will not cloud my judgement if dd is genuinely unwell.
Luckily her new medication has massively improved her condition and the school are very pleased with her attendance but are under a lot of pressure to keep attendance on and above a certain level.
I did sometimes feel it was personal but it really isn't smile

Nobodyspecialanymore Tue 05-Apr-16 08:33:41

If I was called 'ignorant' by a member of staff, I would certainly consider the culture at that school not something I was willing to tolerate.
I'm shocked that anyone would think it acceptable!

irvine101 Tue 05-Apr-16 11:20:33

My ds's attendance was always under 90%, and always received letter from school. But, it came with a handwritten note saying we don't need to worry about it, since school knows my ds's health condition. It was just a official letter that school need to send to all parents. We never had any problem.(He is yr3 now.)
What I did was always made sure I made the copies of appointment letter, card, letter from doctors, etc. and sent it to school for evidence.

Anyusername Tue 05-Apr-16 13:59:17

I read through these and from what I gather these are automatic letters that get sent out when attendance drops under 90%. I think it is wrong that schools send out these letters before setting up a meeting with the parent to discuss the attendance. It almost feels like the school goes behind the parents back. As for getting called ignorant because of the dentist fiasco. To clear it up for the couple of people that thought I was rude about it: as soon as I got to the school I was made to wait in the school reception. There were 2 other parents when I got there, I appreciated that but what irritated me is that I waited 5 minutes and the receptionist didn't even ask me why I was there. At that point I only had 15 minutes to collect my son and get to the dentist which was 10-15 minutes away so I told them I was going to be late if I don't get my son now. It was then the receptionist made unwelcome comments. It was a different receptionist that took the call when I warned them I was going to be collecting my son early the day before and according to the receptionist when I was collecting my son, the message never got to her, so in my opinion I was innocent in the matter since it was the schools communication at fault there, also there was no reason whatsoever the receptionist couldn't have collected my son and then dealt with the other two parents paperwork whilst I was travelling to the dentist. It is the same as when ordering Pizza, if I rang to order a Pizza and went to collect it in store.. I wouldn't expect to wait for everyone else in the shop making new Pizza orders to cook before the staff started to cook mine.

fingles Tue 05-Apr-16 14:14:31

OTOH, I expect you pay for a pizza, hmm? Either way, I guess you can always take your custom elsewhere. I'd say stop getting so uppity, paste on a smile, and forget about it.

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Tue 05-Apr-16 14:19:57

Why didn't you complain that a member of school staff called you "ignorant" ?
The only time I can imagine that being remotely excusable would be if you'd given her a mouthful of verbal abuse first...

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Tue 05-Apr-16 14:22:07

I would send them a letter back correcting their mathematical mistake including showing working out of how I had arrived at the correct percentage.

IdaJones Thu 07-Apr-16 11:22:58

I told them my concern I am going to be late for dentist app, they told I am ignorant

I can't get over this bit. They actually called you ignorant because you said you were worried about being late for the dentist appointment? shock

coffeeisnectar Thu 07-Apr-16 11:32:05

Ok you need to develop a bit more understanding of the school system.

Your dc is your only child at that school. However, they have hundreds of dc at the school and lots of issues to deal with. From your point of view you've received a letter which you feel has gone behind your back. From the schools point of view they've got x amount of pupils across the whole school with poor attendance. So they send out the letters automatically. If there is an issue with your childs health it is down to you to contact the school and ask to meet with the teacher/HT to explain any issues and why there may be times that they cannot attend. You can't expect the school to be phoning every parent to arrange interviews to discuss things. You need to be proactive.

You said there were two other parents being dealt with so you needed to wait to be seen. You can't just shove in with the attitude that your needs are greater than theirs. It is ignorant to expect to be dealt with before others who were there before you. In future leave more time to be seen.

In future either arrange dentist appointments outside of school hours or send in a note the day before with your child saying that you will be collecting him at x time. However, schools finish around 3 so ample time to sort out dentist after that or in half term etc.

And I'm not sure what your dc has been off school with as you don't say but unless they are nearly dying or infectious just send them in. If it's a cold, they can cope. If it's a slight temp then dose them up on and send them in. If they get more poorly during the day school will call you.

Ginxed Thu 07-Apr-16 11:46:31

I'm shocked that someone in the school office would call you ignorant, certainly where I work it would be inexcusable. However, complaining that you had to wait behind people who were there before you is very rude and entitled. I wonder if you were rude to the other parents, and this is why the member of staff reprimanded you?

Leaving only 5 minutes to collect your child isn't really long enough, if the class were doing PE and your child had to change out of their kit, or they needed the toilet before leaving, by the time they have done this and collected their bag, homework, lunch box etc you would be late anyway.

BertrandRussell Thu 07-Apr-16 11:50:34

What did the receptionist actually say?

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Thu 07-Apr-16 14:48:16

Durrrrr Bertrand, it went like this:

OP "Excuse me, I really have to rush, I am going to be late for a dentist's appointment otherwise"
Receptionist "You are just so ignorant aintcha"


The bit I am still a bit flummoxed about is how "paperwork" in the OP, morphed into 2 living (and presumably breathing etc) other parents in the subsequent post.

apple1992 Thu 07-Apr-16 15:40:37

He might only be 4, but he'll soon be 5. 90% and below is categorised as 'persistent absence' by the DfE, not specifically your child's school, and the school has a duty to ensure good attendance and challenge persistence absence.
90% is really low, that is a day off every fortnight, I would be concerned. The letter won't be 'automatic' and in fact, I am surprised they have not written to you sooner. Why don't you ask for a meeting?

With regards to the receptionist, were you in a queue? Or were you just waiting?

apple1992 Thu 07-Apr-16 16:08:30

Also, the letter would likely be stating facts of the law (ie. As a parent you are legally responsible to ensure your child attend school regularly) and they have to make you aware of possible sanctions (ie. penalty notice or prosecution). These are not threatening, just informing you of the facts.

sleeponeday Sun 15-May-16 12:39:41

apple they aren't facts - a child under 5 isn't of compulsory school age.

OP the letters are automatic. They get sent out by every school, because they have to show OFSTED that they take attendance seriously. Just forget it, honestly. They sent us one last year and DS had missed school due to scarlet fever and because he had hospital appointments for SEN, amongst other things. They don't have a choice because if they started cherrypicking the attendance letters then people would get really angry! They have to have a blanket policy once you cross that threshold, so it's fair.

The receptionist calling you ignorant was bloody rude, though. But I'd let it go, because you don't want a hostile relationship with them - receptionists are gatekeepers, and you have several more years to go.

sleeponeday Sun 15-May-16 12:41:37

And yes, they are automatic apple. How could they not be? The head even warns parents in the weekly newsletter this time of year that any parents whose child has that level of attendance will be in receipt. I imagine in extreme situations (a child in hospital, for example) they don't send them, but they do otherwise.

Ilovewillow Sun 15-May-16 13:04:35

They have to send the letters re attendance even if the absence was ft a perfectly sensible reason I.e. 3 weeks off for surgery etc. I don't think they are being deliberately nasty. The discussion in the office sounds like a different issue and if they called you ignorant without good reason I would raise my concerns.

sleeponeday Sun 15-May-16 13:19:39

Yeah, the only case I can think of where I am certain nobody sent one was when a child had an accident so severe they spent months in hospital, the first part in a coma, and has life altering injuries. Those parents have dealt with more than anyone should ever have to, and there is no way on this planet the school admin would generate or the head sign a letter to them.

For the rest of us, if our kids drop below the threshold, out a letter comes.

I do think it's a bit ridiculous for a 4 year old, though. I mean, you don't have to send them at all.

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