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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).

TeenAndTween Wed 24-Apr-13 14:34:19

My DD was given a book at the end of both y1 and y2 for having 100% attendance for the whole year. The school gives certificates for 100% for a term.
Now, I agree she is lucky not to have been ill, and lucky I don't take her out of school for holidays.
BUT she is unlikely ever to get awards / be in teams for any of the following: sport, maths, spelling, music, anything else academic
She is also unlikely (imo) to get voted to be a school councillor, or a house captain or whatever when she is in Y6.

Also, one of the reasons she gets 100% attendance is she/we are never late. THAT is partly because she is well behaved, gets ready for school in the morning without messing about, walks to school without messing about.

So, you know what? I am fine with her getting an attendance award.
(I am also fine that this year she won't get it as she has had a couple of days off sick, thems the breaks).

I do disagree with large rewards such as discos / trips out etc.

tethersend Tue 23-Apr-13 22:13:12


radicalsubstitution Tue 23-Apr-13 20:56:19

The over-emphasis on 'if the school doesn't meet this then it can't be more than this' is making the whole Ofsted system meaningless, in my opinion Enthuse.

I am waiting to hear what they're going to say about nurseries - 'if all children aren't potty trained, with fewer than one accident per week, by the time they are 3.5, then the setting can be classed as no more than Requires Improvement'.

Gove will then go on to say that toddlers in Singapore are out of nappies by 15 months.

Enthuse Tue 23-Apr-13 20:39:01

Sorry. iPhone. Enemy of fluency and grammar.

Enthuse Tue 23-Apr-13 20:38:15

That is a real question. Our school is now
Having pressure put on it from the local education authority to increase attendance. Even though absences from the school are rarely truancy related (unsurprisingly as kids are 4 -7). So while attendance awards may have ever been a long time since when did having less than perfect attendance matter so much to an ofsted grading that schools have to be more relentless in it's pursuit?

Enthuse Tue 23-Apr-13 20:21:40

Isn't it govian in the sense that this governments emphasis on rule following and formal structures means that ofsted now has tongive more weight to attendance ... Hence attendance
Certificates that are more about box ticking than actually solving truancy and absenteeism amongst those groups where absence indicates a problem...

Talkinpeace Tue 23-Apr-13 18:11:26

At the fairly small school where I was a governor we submitted two sets of absence data to Ofsted.
One including a child whose medical problems linked to their statement meant they were off for up to half a term at a time
The other excluding that child.
The head, CofG and staff all agreed that if Ofsted ever penalised the school on the basis of the former set we would shout LOUD from the rooftops.
They didn't.

mintyneb Tue 23-Apr-13 16:49:30

Well I'm totally gobsmacked!! DD has come home from school today with a certificate for 100% attendance last term. This is despite her missing two registrations for hospital appts. Her school must be doing something right :-)

Doesn't explain why she didn't get one for the winter term where yet again she had hospital appts but never missed a day for sickness or anything else. Will have to find out why...

Dinky I am so sorry to hear how your DD is being treated, that is absolutely appalling :-(

radicalsubstitution Tue 23-Apr-13 16:35:17

Attendance awards are not a new thing and not Govian.

I would admit they have escalated out of all proportion from being a photocopied certificate to being a week's all inclusive in the Caribbean, but 100% attendance certificates have been around for decades.

I once worked for a company that gave a bonus to anyone who took no leave (other than holiday) at all during a year. The only exceptions were jury service and compassionate leave for death of a spouse/parent/sibling. The company's attitude was that you were paid wages for sick leave, the bonus was there to recognise attendance.

Naturally, this was pre-Equalities Act days. It takes many organisations many years to catch up with Equalities Legislation, and schools are neither the best nor the worst at this. Organisations often need a gentle or not-so-gentle nudge to move them towards more Equitable policies in general.

Schools unknowingly break the Equalities Act all the time. For example, our school will only allow full-timers to hold any management posts. This indirectly discriminates against people such as myself who, through disability, can only cope with part-time work. It also could be argued that it discriminates against women.

I am all in favour, and would encourage anyone with disabled children to point issues out to schools. I am also in favour of schools being required to carry out an Equalities Impact Assessment on any rewardssystem.

Prolonged non-attendance at school over long periods can be an indicator of other, very serious, issues - as in the Ishaq case. A 100% attendance certificate is never going to help here.

OP, to answer your question - there is a direct link between attendance and attainment. However, I have failed to find any evidence that awards for 100% attendance do anything to improve attendance itself (as it didn't with my former employer). It is so hard to achieve, for so many reasons, that it becomes unattainable to the majority and thus 'not worth the bother'.

There is, however, a growing body of evidence that employee attendance bonuses are, in fact, counter-productive and that's why most companies are scrapping them in favour of other, better, ways of managing absence.

As in everything else, schools are likely to be at least a decade behind private sector organisations before they cotton on.

duchesse Tue 23-Apr-13 15:33:43

Actually I'm beginning to hate the way the various performance indicators set by the government are applied in a seemingly unthinking, insensitive fashion, used as ends in themselves rather than as part of the process of educating the whole child, and many schools say they have no choice but to behave in a crashing boorish way in in children's lives because this is imposed by central government.

It's not, they're simply in a race to get the best marks without once stopping to wonder if it's a race they really need to be in. angry

nappyaddict Tue 23-Apr-13 09:50:44

I believed their policy to be discriminatory, so contacted for advice and they told me to contact the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. They told me that it is discriminatory, and any absence for a SN, disability, or long term medical condition should be logged separately and discounted when the attendance awards are given out, as 'reasonable adjustment' needs to be made to put them on a level playing field with all the other DC.

My son goes to a special school for moderate learning difficulties so you'd think they would make allowances for medical appointments. However, they don't. I have also received many letters about his poor attendance which upset me a lot as he was genuinely ill or at appointments. It made me consider sending him when he was poorly just so they could send him home again. sad

bubblesinthesky Tue 23-Apr-13 09:46:10

I hate them.

DD is in year 2. In year 1 she had 100% attendance and got a certificate. I pointed out to her it was in short a certificate for not being ill. Last term she had some kind of flu bug with a very high fever and vomitiing so I kept her off school. She spent most of the 2 days fretting that she wouldnt get her attendance certificate this year and asking to be taken in. If anything it made her iller worrying about it sad

DorisIsWaiting Tue 23-Apr-13 09:37:40

I think this is the problem with poster saying it's just a bit of paper and no diffferent to wnning a sports award etc.

In different schools it can result in exclusion from a special activity, and bullying as a result of class attendance awards (shit on a whole new level!).

Attendence awards are different as the child has no control over their attendance (at primary). The DC's school has star learner awards that recognises when children have worked hard or sat still (if that is hard for them). All children should have the possibility for being able to achieve an award. They also have positive play awards for playtime. They seem to have seen the light with regard to attendence awards if they still do them (I don't think they do) absolutely no song and dance is made of them.

What galls most is the fact that children with health problems already have to face far greater challenges than the average and have NO chance of achieving. To compound this insult schools like Dinky's then rub salt in the wound, providing a bouncy castle to celebrate with those who either didn't get ill or went into school and made other children ill too.

Dinky- I second the others ask the equalities commisiion for support in challenging this for your DD and others in her situation. Contact the governors etc maybe post a thread in SN if you need help drafting a letter etc.

expansivegirth Tue 23-Apr-13 09:04:48

Dinky - please challenge the head on this.

Please look at Tiggy's post up-thread in which the equalities commission says that health problems/disabilities etc cannot be counted against any attendance award.

duchesse Tue 23-Apr-13 08:50:27

What I think might work with the erm, more feckless parents is if the head teacher rang the house and enquired whether the parent(s) needed someone to come and pick up the children. Hopefully the embarrassment ought to be enough to get the parent out of the house and down the road with them. It ought to be fairly easy to tell which families vs illness are just having a duvet day as all the children would be off at once. And attendance should not be affected by routine and planned medical appointments- that would solve those issues. All the parent ought to need to do is show their appointment card or letter and for the absence to be logged formally, ideally in advance if possible.

duchesse Tue 23-Apr-13 08:45:46

Dinky, I would keep her out of school for the bouncy castle day and do something fun together instead. And make sure her teacher knows why.

flatmum Mon 22-Apr-13 20:32:27

I agree with op it's stupid. The only time they don't attend is when they're sick which they can't help or when their parents take them out of school which they have no control over.

Shouldn't be in use until secondary school IMO

Dinkysmummy Mon 22-Apr-13 20:31:36

The thing is I will have to be very careful how I tell her because what are my chances of getting her to the appointments if she knows she will miss out on the bouncy castle because she has appointments? Or next year when she remembers why she missed the bouncy castle?

I have been thinking about approaching SENco about this.

missorinoco Mon 22-Apr-13 20:28:17

We get them. I find them pointless,DS has no interest in them at all. I should be getting the certificate though, not him. If it were up to him he would be watching Cbeebies all day long in his pyjamas.

And I should get double points for pushing a double buggy to get DS there in the snow.

tethersend Mon 22-Apr-13 19:55:17

Oh, Dinkysmummy, that is just ridiculous. Not much makes me angry on here, but that does.

Make them tell a 5yo little girl that she can't go on the bouncy castle as she has SN. Then ask them how that relates to the Equality Act. I'd go to the papers with that, actually. It epitomises everything that's wrong with attendance awards for young children.

Dinkysmummy Mon 22-Apr-13 19:31:22

I haven't read the whole thread but this is my take...

My dd is 5, in her previous school we were living in a hostel which was the other side of our large town. I got her to school (despite her undx'd sn which she has just been granted DLA for) every day on time despite having to leave at 7.15am ... No certificates for attendance or prizes, she didn't know any different. She already knows she has to go to school. I didn't expect a thank you or a well done or her to get a prize... I just had to get her to school as by law if your not HE, and they are not sick they have to go.
New school new place 10 minutes down the road - dinky comming up to having appointments and assessments for her sn, means she won't be able to attend the bouncy castle day for the end of this term attendance prize which all the other kids will be talking about! That she will know about, but I have to try to explain why she can't go.

I much prefer no prize. If we had missed one day in previous school it would not have mattered at all, she would be none the wiser.
I haven't turned into a feckless parent who can't be bothered to get their kid to school, my dd has SN.

YY, good point expansive - I think Ofsted probably does give too much weight to attendance figures. Maybe if they had a better sense of perspective about it schools would focus on other important aspects of learning and children's well-being more as well ?

Fudgemallowdelight Mon 22-Apr-13 15:54:22

OP. My understanding it that without good attendance and/or the school doing initiatives like attendance certs to increase attendance, then the school can't get an outstanding ofsted. So i suppose it is ofsted we should really be annoyed with

Jellykitten1 Mon 22-Apr-13 14:32:05

MTSgroupie (if you are still reading) to answer your question "Jelly - why would an award for 'great listening', for example, be more meaningful?"

It's because it is something that would be down to him and him alone, not because your SIL (or whoever takes him) got him to school on time every day/he didn't happen to catch novovirus last winter. That is why it's more meaningful. Great listening is a real skill that even adults don't do well most of the time. Whereas good attendance for a young child is attributed to not happening to be ill AND having a parent/carer who cares to get them to school.

expansivegirth Mon 22-Apr-13 13:50:48

OK. Just to say again - I think it would be so useful if someone who understands the Mumsnet site were to take the information that the poster who questioned the equality commission came back with - and put it in a place where everyone can see it. That is: if your child has a disaility/chronic illness etc the school is acting improperly if they allow this to be counted against the chlid's attendance in relation to attendance certificates etc.

However, for me this isn't the main point, which is: I am still unable to locate any evidence that such schemes increase attendance amongst those children with chronic absenteeism due to truancy/bad parenting (as opposed to children with committed and involved parents who allow occasional days off). Given that these persistant truants are the only children for whom there is likely to exist any meaningful correlation between attendance and later educational outcomes - it's surely crucial to demonstrate this link before allowing Ofsted to give weight to attendance figures.

(And there's my last question: how much weight does Ofsted give to attendance? How much weight does it given to attendance over something like pastoral care?).

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