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Thoughts on Attendance Certificates etc for kids...

(218 Posts)
expansivegirth Sat 20-Apr-13 09:01:39

Our school has just started giving out attendance prizes for children. This is an infants school. The children are 4, 5, 6. and 7. The attendance prizes - certificates or a pencil... - are given both to individuals and to classes.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. This policy is seriously arsing me off.

I feel it's deeply unfair to hold children accountable for the fact that heir parents choose not to bring them to school or struggle to get them to school on time...

I feel it fosters feelings of failure and resentment among the class. Thus those kids who care about attendance end up feeling cross with the children who, for whatever reason, don't turn up at all and bring down the class average.

Also the school does not discriminate between absences. A sick child, a child with feckless parents, a child on authorised holiday - they all count equally towards absence figures. A child who is ill ends up not getting a certificate - or worse - getting told off for low attendance - even though she's been throwing up all night.

These are VERY YOUNG KIDS. Anyone able to defend this policy please?

(Other than a Govian attempt to train obedient workers who are able to adjust early to unfair employment laws).

Startail Sat 20-Apr-13 18:44:52

DD got a meant meter before Easter for under 94%(all absences before Xmas) and a beautiful certificate for 100% in term 2.

She's in Y7 not primary and the sarcastic voice she used to read out the smarmy letter about her much improved attendance was absolutely hilarious.

DD2 loves school she had a stinking cold and an ear infection. It's the first time she's had a whole week off in her life. She was still not herself a week after going back to school.

ipadquietly Sat 20-Apr-13 18:49:28

Just to set your minds at rest (?). IME (fwiw) children have never been upset for not getting attendance awards.

gabsid Sat 20-Apr-13 19:29:46

DS is in Junior school, we have them, but I don't pay much attention to them as its not DS's fault if he has a flu.

radical - probably not though, because attendance is linked to achievement, that's why they do it.

tethersend Sat 20-Apr-13 19:35:01

"The school is taking action to ensure they have good attendence because it can be a huge factor in progress"

Since parental income is a far better indicator of academic achievement, why not reward those children whose parents earn more than, say, £30,000?

They could always nag them to earn more.

SunflowersSmile Sat 20-Apr-13 19:58:17

Not always just certificates though- sometimes special treat while others work or school trip....

tiggytape Sat 20-Apr-13 20:11:14

ipadquietly - some schools have attendance ipod raffles or attendance related outings but that's not really the point:

Either attendance certificates are so nice to win that the mere prospect of one will motivate children to nag their parents not to keep them off school (and therefore it is unfair for disabled children to never have the chance to win something so great)

Or the certificates are so rubbish that disabled children don't care at all that they can never win one (in which case what's the point of havign a certificate scheme that nobody cares about winning?)

You can't have it both ways

ipadquietly Sat 20-Apr-13 20:19:34

Obviously, tiggy some schools want (need?) to take attendance to another dimension!

At my school, none of the children even comment on the certificates given out at the end of the year (1 or 2 in a school of over 300!) It's usually the teacher's children who get them! grin

tiggytape Sat 20-Apr-13 20:26:02

Exactly tethersend.

Ermisch and Francesconi concluded that a mother’s education is a very powerful predictor of her children’s educational achievements, particularly for daughters.

So if we're rewarding factors beyond a child's control that statistically affect educational outcome, let's introduce a "my mummy's clever" certificate and all the children who don't have graduate mum can nag them to join the Open University.
Of course, every time a new piece of research came out, we’d have to adjust the certificates accordingly. I think many children could build up quite a collection to add to the my mummy sends me to school with diarrhoea / I’m lucky not to have a condition that affects all aspects of my life attendance certificates

You might have guessed it is something I feel strongly about having 2 children affected by these things and who would be very hurt to be left out of a reward scheme due to something that messes up a lot of things in their lives already.
If you have a child whose life revolves around tests and worry and appointments the last thing you need is for them to be left out of yet another thing that they can never be part of.

I am lucky - our school disregards time off school related to disability but the rest of the world also accepts people with disability sometimes have more time off (employers have to allow for this for example) so it is wrong for some schools to teach intolerance to it by not making the necessary allowances if they insist on these schemes.

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 20:33:40

At the school I teach at (secondary), children taught in the SEN department are eligible to receive 'raffle tickets' for all sorts of stuff. This may be for good behaviour, not swearing during a lesson (hard for one or two of them), staying in their seats etc. Once, raffle tickets were awarded to two children who spent their time when withdrawn from an MFL lesson wrapping the SENCo's children's Christmas presents (don't get me started on that one). These raffle tickets are used in an end-of-half-term raffle for the chance to win all sorts of inexpensive stuff. Mainly chocolate (great idea for some of them haha).

The non-SEN children may feel very aggrieved that they have no way to win these tickets. However, very few SEN children tend to win Maths Challenge certificates. Few (probably due to the nature of the school and the SEN children within it) ever get awards for sport. The list goes on.

Most schools have a range of awards that allow all children to achieve some, but maybe not all.

Most children will find that there are awards they have very little hope of achieving.

What's the solution - ban all awards that not all students can achieve?

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 20:44:36

I must say, though, I think that any award that is disproportionately large compared to the number of students who can achieve it is very questionable given the supposed limits on schools' budgets.

FatherSpodoKomodo Sat 20-Apr-13 21:27:18

ipadquietly I have a child who was very upset not to get the attendance treat his brothers got. He was in Reception so still young, and had caught everything that went round that year resulting in a lot of time off and 93% attendance. Both his brothers had 100% and got to go to the cinema as a treat. It was very hard explaining to him why he couldn't go. After all, he couldn't help being ill. I had to keep him off, and a couple of times he got sent home, so the school knew he was genuinely ill.

I don't really agree with attendance treats because the kids that turn up all the time are going to still turn up anyway, and the ones with parents that can't be arsed still have parents that can't be arsed and don't care about the treats, and it punishes the genuinely ill ones or makes them/the parents bring them to school while still ill.

auntevil Sat 20-Apr-13 21:57:37

Another one here ipadquietly that has children who get competitive with each other for attendance certificates. Reward for 100% over 3 terms is a £5 book token. My children can't qualify.
This again is all down to medical appointments that are not bookable outside of school hours as the clinics they attend for medical conditions do not run at user friendly times.
The saddest part is that they miss maybe an hour and a half from school once or twice a term, and for this they can never achieve the certificate.
When I brought up the discriminatory aspect with management, it was met witha shrug of the shoulder.
I totally get the correlation between progress and attendance, but do we have to let children this young believe that life is unfair and there's nothing they can do about it.
The other aspect that winds me up about this is the registration times. If your child has an appointment that means they miss 20 minutes at the start of the day and then they come in, they get marked absent for the whole morning. If someone leaves directly after registration and does not return until afternoon registration, they are marked in. Who misses the most education?!

tethersend Sat 20-Apr-13 22:08:34

"What's the solution - ban all awards that not all students can achieve?"

Nobody is saying that children shouldn't receive awards, just that they should only be rewarded for stuff they've actually done.

Not only do attendance awards penalise children for circumstances outside their control, they reward them for exactly the same thing. That's absurd.

Primary aged children are not in control of their own attendance- to reward them for it is to make a mockery of other awards won on their own merit.

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 22:51:38

Examples of awards that, at primary level, are actually "outside the control of the chidren"

sporting ability (dependent, in part, on the ability of the parents to engage in extra curricular activities)
any academic achievement
artistic achievement
musical achievement
conduct ('disablist' against children with behavioural problems)
home learning

Examples of awards that children are in control of:


So, that leaves just one award.

You could say 'effort'. Wow, I wouldnt' want to be a teacher with the responsiboility of deciding who has made the best 'effort' at something. That would lead to no end of problems.

As I have already said, a good school gives awards for all sorts of things.....

Virtually all children will be 'eligible' for some awards, and not others.

All children should, if the scheme is a good one, be eligible to achieve some award.

I don't think any school sponsored award should be disproportionate in its cost compared to the number of children eligible to achieve it. Why can't a certificate in assembly and a letter from the head teacher be enough?

tethersend Sun 21-Apr-13 00:00:29

Radical, we agree on the ridiculous nature of effort awards. I wrote my PGCE thesis on exactly that. Effort grades and awards are absurd and should be scrapped.

Examples of awards that, at primary level, are actually "outside the control of the chidren"


Agreed- parents decide whether the child attends or not.

sporting ability (dependent, in part, on the ability of the parents to engage in extra curricular activities)

The key words being 'in part'- children can still be rewarded for the part which they are in control of, eg sportsmanship, improvement on previous achievement etc.

any academic achievement

I disagree that children are not in control of their academic achievement; whilst there are undoubtedly extraneous factors affecting this beyond children's control, this is not the same as having no control over academic achievement at all. You cite 'progress' as being within a child's control- this can and does relate to academic achievement.

artistic achievement

As a former art teacher, I can assure you that children are in control over their achievement within the subject in the same way as they are with any other subject. No natural aptitude, whilst often motivating, is required.

musical achievement

You don't think that children can decide to spend time practising to improve their musical achievement?

conduct ('disablist' against children with behavioural problems)

As a teacher working with children with behavioural difficulties, I dispute this. Children are not always able to modify their behaviour to the standards of a typically developing child, but it is an exceptional case for a child to have no control over their behaviour whatsoever. Applied Behavioural Analysis for example, is one methodology which rewards changes in behaviour, and has been shown to be very effective with children with autism.

home learning

I agree that this is somewhat outside of a child's control- that is to say that I believe there are too may extraneous factors affecting outcomes to make rewarding a child for work done at home a sensible practice. Mind you, I don't think there should be any homework. At all.

ipadquietly Sun 21-Apr-13 00:01:02

As I said - we only do manky little certificates at the end of the year and about 0.02% of the children get them!

Agree totally with everyone about bigger rewards.... obviously a child is not in control of whether s/he goes to school or not, AND has to build immunity to all the bugs which takes some children longer than others.

(Trips to the cinema? £5 vouchers? Where did that come from? shock)

janji Sun 21-Apr-13 00:06:52

The last day of term is prize giving day at my dds (aged 6) school. The children sit though an hour and a half of prizes (the outcome of which are always the dc of govs/PTA... The more negative side of ind ed) including full attendance. My dd received full attendance in reception class but not in y1 and will not have achieved it in y2 (both times due to illness). Last year she was so upset and eager to achieve full attendance she proceeded to get dressed whilst vomiting on her bed, down the stairs etc. the pressure and feeling of failure is ridiculous. This is an award that mainly requires luck (avoiding term time illness) and not a real reflection of achievement at all IMO.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 21-Apr-13 00:12:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fudgemallowdelight Sun 21-Apr-13 00:24:11

Attendance awards are crap. They reward children for being fortunate enough to be healthy, or perhaps for being sent to school when they have a sickness bug and spreading it around.

They discriminate against diabetics who need to go to the diabetic clinic regularly, so can never get an award, plus children with other chronic medical conditions.

CointreauVersial Sun 21-Apr-13 00:40:46

I understand why several of you are against the idea, but don't let DD2 hear you.

She's currently in Y5, and hasn't missed a single day of school ever. She's holding out for a really big certificate in a year's time.

She know she's lucky to have excellent health, and a mother who cares about getting her to school every day (and doesn't take term-time holidays). But it has taught her that good attendance is important in life, and she is valued for turning up every day. I suppose that counts for something.

soontobeslendergirl Sun 21-Apr-13 00:51:15

well, as someone who had (albeit very healthy) children and where the eldest didn't miss a day of school for 5 years and the only recognition he ever got was a certificate one year that was dated 1996 (he was born in 2000) that was a photocopy and where they didn't even bother to write his name on, I can't help feeling annoyed on his behalf. Especially as he was badly bullied for a long time and I'm sure he didn't always feel like going in.

No-one seems to see an issue when it's pointed out repeatedly that attendance goes hand in hand with performance and that some children are not attending enough. This is in a school where the HT has to ask parents not to give their child the day of for their birthday!

I don't think rewarding for attendance when it isn't in the child's control is necessarily right, but I equally think that children who personally make an effort to attend regularly do deserve some kind of recognition.

soontobeslendergirl Sun 21-Apr-13 00:52:59

....I now don't make the effort to ensure my child has 100% attendance. If they were a wee bit under the weather I would always have suggested that they go in and see how they feel - now I am more inclined to keep them off.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sun 21-Apr-13 01:12:23

I'll tell DS2 not to have a long, drawn out asthma attack during term time, shall I , so that he has a chance of achieving a 100% attendance award? Or tell his Physio to run her clinic after school hours so that he has a chance of achieving a 100% attendance award?

Why should these absences not be discounted, as a reasonable adjustment for his disabilities? Why shouldn't the Equality Act cover my DS2 just because he is a school age child?

MTSgroupie Sun 21-Apr-13 08:36:57

It is a fecking piece of paper that is produced in Word and sometimes laminated if the teacher could be arsed. Hardly something to get heated up over.

My DCs use to come home with 'certicates' for helping the teacher tidy up or for sitting nicely on the carpet during story time. After the initial excitment my DCs became indifferent to the whole thing.

SunflowersSmile Sun 21-Apr-13 08:51:48

MTSgroupie- as I and others have said - not always just a certificate but extra fun time at school or even a cinema trip out...
Big deal for children.

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