The Attendance Officer!

(33 Posts)
Mumof1plustwins Tue 17-Jan-12 21:24:29

Has anyone else had experience dealing with the attendance officer?
I had an unpleasant meeting with one because my DD (5) attendance has fallen to 81% (they would like it to be above 85%)
But it's only because of illness, the birth of her twin brothers and again illness (they were admitted to hospital for a few nights)
But the attendance officer abruptly stopped me and said her only concern is dd (and she got her name wrong!)
But whether she's interested or not I still have 3 children.
I just wondered what anyone else's experience with them is like?

OP’s posts: |
Hassled Tue 17-Jan-12 21:31:11

I'm a bit confused why the Attendance Officer (I know them as Educational Welfare Officers - I'm assuming they're the same) was hanging round the school? My only advice would be to co-operate, or at least appear to be co-operating. Some Local Authorities are very heavy handed re attendance, and pass this on to the schools, but 81% is certainly low - that must add up to a lot of days of missed lessons.

Mumof1plustwins Tue 17-Jan-12 21:41:45

Yes they're the same and she works between dds school and the school up the road.

She hasn't missed much, sometimes lateness (you try getting on a bus with a double pram during the school run!) and absences unexplained, ie I failed to inform them, but I did actually, but their encouragement to use the schools website didn't work! I received a phone call the next day asking why I hadn't called! hmm

I now have to get up half an hour early to be able to get the bus and turn up at dds school 45mins early! Which is fine, I'd rather she be early than late but I just thought the AOfficer was very unsympathetic and wondered if anyone else has dealt with them?

OP’s posts: |
Gumby Tue 17-Jan-12 21:44:50

Could her dad do the school run in the morning before he goes to work?

Mumof1plustwins Tue 17-Jan-12 22:14:39

Unfortunately not, because he starts work at 6.30am!

OP’s posts: |
debs227 Tue 17-Jan-12 22:20:18

Is your DD reception or Year 1? I am also quite shocked that the Education Welfare Officer is involved, she is only 5!!

Wolfiefan Tue 17-Jan-12 22:26:46

81% is very low. She is averaging one missed day a week. They may be keeping an eye out to make sure you are not keeping her home for reasons other than illness (you would be amazed!) and that she is not refusing to attend etc. She may only be 5 but perhaps they are worried about her settling. I would keep a note of her attendance and when you contact school etc so you can set them straight if necessary.
Respect for double buggy on bus! Wow!

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3duracellbunnies Tue 17-Jan-12 23:08:12

Do keep a note of attendance yourself, and check regularly with the school that they are matching. The school put down a day spent in hospital as a family holiday!!!! Not once I went in and told them that 3 children in a waiting room for 5 hours was not my idea of a holiday, they had been told, it was in the diary, and they soon changed it.

It is tough having one baby on the school run, let alone 2 and a bus ride, you have my sympathies.

RiversideMum Wed 18-Jan-12 07:19:51

Are you sure this was the EWO? The school or a group of schools may employ an Attendance Officer to keep tabs on whats going on and to "investigate" (in a nice way) what is going on with families where absence rates are high. We're lucky if the EWO sets foot in school 1 day a term and then appointments are made with families via the school if necessary.

DeWe Wed 18-Jan-12 11:41:08

I'd have thought that the concern was her missing school because of the birth and illness of her twin brothers. Her own illness I doubt they'd worry about, but they may be concerned that if she misses any time either of her brothers were ill then she could miss a lot. Just a thought.

MamaMaiasaura Wed 18-Jan-12 11:45:41

Are there any other mums close who could take her if needed? Empathise with her being poorly and that it's hard with one baby let alone 2. As you've had twins could a student nursery nurse do placement with you? That might help with time keeping.

dixiechick1975 Wed 18-Jan-12 13:49:40

I'd take it as an opportunity to get your back up plans in place for the next time you can't take her.

DD missing school for any reason other than her being ill will ring alarm bells.

Do you have phone numbers of other mums nearby? if not get them asap. Another mum may be willing to take her.

If no mums nearby (sounds like school is a distance) do any local childminders do that school run?

Can your DH start later and drop her off at breakfast club.

Your DH's needs to check his firm's policy and statutory rights re parental leave and flexible working. He may have right to family emergency days etc. It is just as much his responsibility to get her to school.

Are there any schools nearer to you to avoid bus journey? If so are would a move be in the best interests of you all.

Hope you manage to get things sorted.

Mumof1plustwins Wed 18-Jan-12 18:05:25

Thanks for all your replies, not sure what the attendance officer was doing there, think she had a meeting with another parent so they fit me in.
My OH is supervisor to 5 drivers and lorry maintenance, if he starts taking time off etc he'll lose his position and possibly his job.
no other parents I know live close enough to pick her up/drop off.

Im sure it will work out, just need to get up earlier and set a back up alarm and try avoid illness! hmm

I was just quite taken aback at the lack of support she offered, in fact she offered none, and told me if I don't improve DDs attendance shell take me to court!
She said shes sympathetic as she's also a mother but she certainly didn't come across that way hmm

OP’s posts: |
BoysAreLikeDogs Wed 18-Jan-12 18:28:19

Yes, unauthorised absence from school carries with it the risk of prosecution

By law, all children of compulsory school age (five to 16) must receive a suitable full-time education. For most parents, this means registering their child at a school and once your child is registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly. If your child fails to do so, you risk getting a penalty notice or being prosecuted.

Birth of a sibling or family illness is not normally acceptable as a reason for absence

81% attendance will have triggered intervention, and hopefully you'll be able to sort this out

Bit hmm that the EWO offered no support to you, that's not very good sad

teacherwith2kids Wed 18-Jan-12 18:39:52

Had a discussion today as a baby sibling for one of my class arrived in the early hours of this morning, the 5th child in that family.

The child in my class was not in this morning, and there was a discussion about whether the absence could be authorised (because as many of the staff are mums we could see that getting the children to school this morning was somewhat tricky, as the family live in a particularly remote part of our rural catchment and the mum was still in hospital)

The answer was 'no', it couldn't be authorised. The dad dropped the children at school at lunchtime, profusely apologetic.

While half a day of absence in the hours immediately following a birth, though not authorisable, is understandable, we would be very concerned if a child was off school for longer than that following a new arrival, or if they were off simply because their siblings were ill. It's 'understandable' at an 'oh that's tricky' level, but it is not an exucse for a child to miss school and I'm not at all surprised that intervention was triggered. Our EWO is very 'helpful', in the sense that she is a woman on a mission to get children into school and is prepared, in the nicest possible way, to blast through all obstacles in her path .. but that hasn't stopped her taking families from the school to court when their absence levels didn't pick up...

NettoSuperstar Wed 18-Jan-12 18:46:14

I had contact with the EWO last school year.
I'd not phoned in to let school know DD wouldn't be in, she was off for three days.
It was entirley my fault, but I was very unwell at the time too (I have brittle asthma).
The EWO called me, and I explained the situation to her, and did admit it was entirely my fault, but let her know why it had happened.
She was lovely, and called school and explained on my behalf, as the school haven't always been particularly understanding of my illness.

NettoSuperstar Wed 18-Jan-12 18:49:23

DD's absence wasn't authorised btw, I didn't ask for it to be, nor did I expect it.
I was just grateful the EWO was understanding.
The school really aren't, and if it wasn't for DD having loads of friends there, I'd seriously consider moving her.

teacherwith2kids Wed 18-Jan-12 18:57:02

Netto, I think that's what i mean about our EWO being very helpful - in your position she would have thought of mechanisms for letting the school know that took account of your illness, would have got actively involved in working out a plan for what happens in the event that you are ill again, sat all the parties down to thrash through the issues, got a documented plan in place with support for your DD etc etc etc.

But equally, she stands for no nonsense if there is no real reason why a child is not in school IYSWIM?

cory Wed 18-Jan-12 19:17:35

I've had a lot to do with EWOs since dd has been suffering from chronic health problems and anxiety/depression for the last 8 years and I have found that they have ranged from the extremely understanding and helpful to the actively stupid. (So probably like the population at large then grin)

In this case, I can see that she was worried that your dd's education was being affected by factors that weren't really to do with your dd and which, if you didn't get them sorted, could add massively to any absences your dd incurred in her own right. But she should have taken time, made an appointment, sat down and talked to you about solutions.

Tgger Wed 18-Jan-12 19:45:23

Hi there. I would definitely do a bit of networking to see if you can find someone other than yourself to take her to school if the occasion demands it. There are bound to be times in the future when it's tricky for you to take her and would be great if you had one or two people on hand to step in for you. Other parents might surprise you and be happy to come out of their way for an emergency/one off- or do you have any neighbours you can build a relationship with with this in mind?!

Other than that I would go for moving school if there is a nearer one as having to take a bus sounds like a bit of a faff and if you are nearer the school you will meet more local parents which is a big plus in my book.

dixiechick1975 Wed 18-Jan-12 21:08:17

Just to clarify as an employee your DH has the legal (statutory) right to to take unpaid parental leave/request flexible working. He can't be sacked for exercising a statutory right. See the direct.gov website.

He would also be taken to court for her non attendance if it gets that far.

I think you will be suprised how many people would help if there was an emergency.

My DD is 5. I had to have an operation in a hospital over an hour away under GA. Had to be dropped off at 7.30am. DH and DD took me and then he dropped her at school. He requested and work ok'd different hours. Had aftercare club on standby for DD depending on what time I was released. I told the teacher just in case DD was upset and several parents immediately offered help if I needed. As did a friend with older kids at a different school. Never even crossed my mind not to send DD to school TBH.

HolofernesesHead Wed 18-Jan-12 21:18:45

I'd definitely agree with trying to find a little group of people who may be able to help out on the odd occasion if your twins are unwell. My dh leaves for work before 6.30 a.m. so there have been times when my wonderful friends have taken one of my dc to school while I've looked after the poorly one at home.

Clawdy Wed 18-Jan-12 21:23:37

Even if you decide to change schools,the new school will not be sympathetic to a child missing school because of sibling issues. Why should they?

Tgger Wed 18-Jan-12 21:33:18

Of course they won't be but OP is all new to the school game and has baby DTs so a bit of explanation,support and suggestions in how to get DD to school would have been more helpful than a "telling off"!!

saggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 18-Jan-12 21:50:20

81% is pretty low TBH.

You say she hasn't missed much but that's almost one day a week not in school and it does add up. Maybe theAO could have been more sympathetic but IME sympathy is often misconstrued as a green light to carry on as you are. She's basically trying to let you know that 81% is unacceptable and as they're your children it's your responsibility to get them into school.

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