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School have said dd's absence due to illness is unauthorized.

(33 Posts)
MonsieurleJuge Wed 27-Feb-13 21:02:45

Sorry this is so long but I would really like some advise.
My dd is in Yr2 and unfortunately she has had 3 periods of sick this school year. In September she was absent for 5 days for tonsillitis. In November she was absent for 3 days with diarrhoea and vomiting. In February before half term she had another 3 days off school because she had a very high fever and was in a lot of pain. Following a visit to the doctors on the 2nd day of absence she was diagnosed with blocked and infected sinuses and an ear infection and prescribed a course of antibiotics. So in total my dd has been absent from school due to illness for 11 days or 22 sessions.
I have always rung the school at the beginning of absence and normally every other day thereafter, and I have always written a letter confirming my dd was ill when she returns to school. The School Secretaries normally treat these phone calls with hostility and suspicion, basically like I am lying. I have complained about other things and I do not think I am particularly liked at the school.
After my dd was absent in September I received a letter saying that the school would like to have medical evidence in future to prove illness. Unfortunately despite ringing 3 times that week when my daughter was ill the secretaries did not mention this on the phone, otherwise I could have provided something from the doctor or kept the label from the prescription. But by the time the school asked for this evidence I no longer had anything.
When my dd was ill in February the Secretaries did ask me a couple of times for the proof of the prescription when I rang the school. So when my dd returned to school I sent it a letter stating why she was ill, I stated the name and details of the GP we saw. Who incidentally said she would be happy to verify that my dd was ill if the school contacted her but was not happy to write a medical certificate for a 7 year old. When the antibiotics were finished I sent in the label to school.
Today I have received a very brief and unhelpful letter from the Head saying that my dd's "absences will no longer be able to be authorised unless they are accompanied by medical evidence". The letter is accompanied by her registration certificate which shows that for the last period of sickness my dd's absence was unauthorised on day 1, bizarrely authorised on day 2 when we went to the doctors and got a prescription, and unauthorised again on day 3 of absence.
I feel really angry and upset. Surely I have provided all the evidence I can, I provided proof of a prescription medication that should cover the entire period of sickness. I just don't like the tone of the letter that seems to assume that I have been lying. My dd does get sick quite regularly, in fact this year is probably one of her better years. But if she does get sick again I will feel so nervous contacting the school in case they don't believe me. And obviously something like vomiting cannot be verified by a prescription or a doctors appointment.
I would like to write a letter of complaint to the Head but please help me with some rational points I should make. I am feeling distinctly irrational, I think the school have been very unfair and illogical. I would make an appointment with the Head but I have not found that very productive in the past. Has this happened to anyone else?

HecateWhoopass Wed 27-Feb-13 21:08:20

No, sounds awful.

Can you get the doctor to write to the school, confirming all illnesses that s/he has seen your daughter about? I know they said they would confirm if the school wrote, but it seems more like the school is trying to punish or bully you in some way than that they want actual confirmation, so perhaps the GP writing to them (I know you'll have to pay for that, but it would be worth it) might do the trick. Copy to the LEA?

And perhaps contact the LEA for advice? See what the official position on this is?

clam Wed 27-Feb-13 21:21:17

Oh for God's sake, I despair of some schools, I really do!!
Whatever happened to common sense?

<<am a teacher>>

lougle Wed 27-Feb-13 21:35:26

I had similar. I moved my DD. The concept of rigorous sickness monitoring is fine.

The terrible attitude and open hostility, along with clear implication of lying/Fabricated illness was my limit.

thewhistler Wed 27-Feb-13 21:38:42

Yes, happened to me years ago when Ds was little.

Awful head. Ds had rare condition meaning he was ill every 3 weeks and off for about 5 days each time. There was no dx at that point. School hounded me and refused simultaneously to give dc medication when he fell ill. Were going to report me to social services etc. Refused to believe me when I said we were going round specialists etc.

I wrote to school , to form teacher copied to head and chair of governors saying that I assumed they didn't want my v ill son when he was v ill. I too was concerned about what he was missing and would be delighted to cover the ground with him if they told me what to do.

After a few shots of them refusing point blank to give medication (otherwise he was in danger of death or brain damage) I wrote to head, cc chair, pointing out that they were In loco parentis, and that if my child died or was brain damaged as a result if their failure I would bring this to the attention of the LA, the local MP, the local press and the Secretary of State for Education.

I was not loved but my dc was ok and they gave him the medication.

Dromedary Wed 27-Feb-13 21:42:28

I would just put down the facts, including the GP not being prepared to write a medical certificate for a young child, and that you are concerned by the way that the shool has been reacting to occasional and clearly genuine illness. The school won't care, but it may help if they try to get you into trouble with the council. Keep it short and reasonable. Keep a copy.
Our school is very like this. Not a good enough reason to move a child though, if the child is happy there.

stargirl1701 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:45:49

Could the School Nurse be of some help here? They take over the HV role so are a perfect liaison between school & GP.

bubbles1231 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:53:09

Our school nurses have no communication with GP , my GP told me. They are run by a separate department. It's up to parents to pass the information between the two. I was somewhat surprised.
Son's hearing test at school turned up a possible abnormality - advice was that it should be repeated. GP was never informed. I had to go separately to GP to request auiology appt when I heard nothing after 6months.

MonsieurleJuge Wed 27-Feb-13 21:55:39

That's what makes me so angry, that I don't think the school does care. They seem so concerned about their figures that they are lacking in common sense and compassion. I would definitely consider moving my dd but she only has a few more months there until she starts Junior School. I am just frustrated that my word is not good enough for them. I might contact my GP, she is lovely with my daughter and enquire about her writing a medical certificate for all dd's periods of absence even if I pay for it. That might placate the school for a while, or at least be on my record if I am contacted by an Attendance Officer. Strangely the School Nurse is visiting the school next week so maybe I should go and talk to her.

LilyAmaryllis Wed 27-Feb-13 22:06:59

Its very odd, they would be very quick to send her home from school if she turned up with tonsilitis/d&v/fever!

I don't have this with our school, I just ring up and say "DC is not well" and they don't even ask for details of specifically what illness it is.

Just carry on doing what is best for your DD

And what Dromedary said

ravenAK Wed 27-Feb-13 22:18:06

I would be tempted to write a stiff letter saying:

'As previously advised, here are my GP's contact details, should you wish to verify any of my child's previous absences due to illness with them.

'I will be continuing to send dd to school unless she is too ill to attend, or I need to keep her off following d&v/infectious illness to protect other students.

'Obviously I would prefer that you do not inaccurately record occasions on which my dd has been ill as 'unauthorised'; however, ultimately this is a matter for you.'

She won't be affected by however they record absence, be it 'ill', 'unauthorised', or 'abducted by aliens'!

'Too many' absences just make their figures look crap when Ofsted come calling, hence they are badgering you. Really not your problem! Let 'em get on with it.

<am also a teacher>

admission Wed 27-Feb-13 22:20:22

Schools are quite rightly trying to ensure that pupils are in school when they should be. The whole point of whether it is authorised and unauthorised absence is irrelevant, it is the total level of absence which is important.
To be honest as an inspector high unauthorised absence would tweek my curiosity much more than authorised absence because it is suggesting that the school is not following up on absences. I would definitely be asking what they do about such absences.
Why is this school getting so het up about it,I haven't a clue. If you have informed the school the child is ill and followed that up with a letter confirming that, what else can they reasonably expect? Clearly somebody is getting their knickers in a twist over absence data and I think you can only hope that something else comes along shortly to divert their attention.

nennypops Wed 27-Feb-13 22:32:56

GPs tend to charge for writing letters confirming sickness. You could try telling the school that you can't afford to pay for medical evidence and if they want it then they will have to pay for it.

Dromedary Wed 27-Feb-13 23:08:49

Our school is obsessed with attendance figures, and thinks it is justifiable to harass parents to death over it. They keep a record of every ONE MINUTE of lateness. Write threatening letters about educational social services officers and fines. Demand medical evidence. Pretty much accuse you of lying if your child misses even one day of school due to illness. Never ever authorises missing school, however good the reason (ok maybe if the child wants to attend a parent's funeral). Just makes you love the school.

Fairenuff Thu 28-Feb-13 12:21:31

What was your dd's attendance in Year 1?

It just seems strange to me that the school would ask for confirmation from a gp after just one period of sickness in September.

ThingummyBob Thu 28-Feb-13 12:32:11

Sounds awful for you OP sad

If it was me I'd simply ignore their silly requests. It makes no difference to you or your dd if the sickness absence is authorised or not, it only matters to the school.

Let them flap, let them harrass, but smile, ignore and carry on as you are with regard to informing them. If they involve any other agencies then give them the details as you have here.

We are talking about a Y2 primary child here with three instances of sickness over a 6 months period. I can't imagine any outside agency with enough time to get concerned about it at all tbh.

ThingummyBob Thu 28-Feb-13 12:33:00

time on their hands

mytwo Wed 22-May-13 16:34:12

I really know what your going through. My son is at secondary school and has asthma, food allergies and suffered a hip injury in January. All of these have resulted in days off school. Now his attendance record is low they mark him unauthorised. I paid for a letter from the GP to explain his health issues, I have a letter from a chiropractor explaining his injury. It makes no difference. At the end of the day the school gets to a point where stats only matter. Due to attendance records they get graded into red, amber or green, only just found that out! I have been sent leaflets explaining the fines I may get if it continues. How they expect me to make him better is beyond me. Today I took him in even through he had been sick that morning!
You must feel very frustrated, I know I do. I don't really know where to turn. I think I will wait until the warning letter arrives from the educational welfare office, then I will appeal. If you leave it and pay you have no right to appeal. Like you, I feel like a criminal with a truant son. When in reality I'm a mum trying to care for a sick child.
My advice is to get a letter from the GP it cost me £16 but its worth it just to have proof for when things get rough.

mummytime Wed 22-May-13 16:45:59

My advice is not to take your sick children into school. Then let the school try to take you to court. Any fines will not be enforcable, and the EWO who they may threaten you with can actually be quite helpful with ridiculous schools.

I still blame Gove for this, imposing stupid targets,; and making life so hard that most people with common sense wouldn't want to be a Head anymore.

saintlyjimjams Wed 22-May-13 16:53:54

How ridiculous. They can't really want a sick child I school. I would actually ring the EWO in the council, explain the situation & ask him/her what procedure they would like you to follow. Then write to the school saying you have spoken to the EWO and are following their advice.

LaurieFairyCake Wed 22-May-13 16:55:22

Send her in. She'll only vomit or shit on the floor once before they call you frantically.

At which point you can saunter in and say loudly 'will this sickness be authorised'

<half joking>

adoptmama Wed 22-May-13 16:57:47

Ask the GP to simply note on a sheet of his prescription pad the dates of the illness and confirmation of his seeing your child and prescription given. The school need to have proof of the reason for absence; lots of parents now simply say their child is sick when they are really going on holiday.

From the school's point of view, you say they sent a letter and asked you in September to provide medical evidence to support future absence but you didn't, so the fact that your child has been absent since then without evidence from the doctor him/herself can be a red flag.

I understand you are upset and annoyed with the school but they are required to track absence, report unauthorised absences etc. so they are simply trying to do (yet another burdensome thing) required of them by law (which does not mean I am saying the school have handled this perfectly either).

So you have two issues: one is the need to provide evidence your child has been ill during the dates of absence. You cannot simply give the doctor's details to the school and ask them to contact him/her as the doctor is bound by confidentiality issues and cannot disclose. Therefore you need to ask the doctor to provide proof of illness; a letter with dates etc, or simply a signed note on his prescription pad as my doctor does. The second issue is whether you feel the school has communicated in a professional, helpful and timely manner. If you feel they have not, then that issue should be discussed with the head teacher. If you are unsure what constitutes 'medical evidence' ask for a copy of their policy on this and on reporting absence/authorising absence so you can give them what they need.

kilmuir Wed 22-May-13 17:01:16

How awful.
Don't tolerate their bullying.
My DCs school always ask if they can be told nature of illness, not sure they can demand the info.

LtEveDallas Wed 22-May-13 17:02:39

To be honest OP I reckon you should just think 'stuff em'. Don't let yourself be worried about this. Your child's absence shouldn't matter a jot to you. If the school want to mark him as unauthorised it's they that will suffer, not you and not your child.

I'd smile, continue as you are and put any more letters from the head unopened in the bin.

kilmuir Wed 22-May-13 17:03:25

I have 4 children, and have never taken them to GP when they have been ill and off school. So what. 'evidence' would i have to prove diarrhoea and vomiting for example.

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