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received attendance letter from school and now been called in by head....

(49 Posts)
Marmaduke3 Mon 26-Jan-15 19:48:07

hi. my little one is in reception year at school. she is constantly picking things up.
she had a sickness bug in december and on another occasion, a terrible cough/temperature.
at home over the xmas holidays she was completely free of any bugs.
this year, after 3 days back at school, she was off with a hacking cough, temperature, and laid out in bed for 3 days as white as a sheet.
that was two weeks ago, and tonight she came home from school, and was in bed asleep at 4.30!!!!!! so doesnt look like she will go in tomorrow.

i received a letter saying her attendance was below 85%, and i have been asked by the head to come in for a meeting to discuss her attendance.

i take pride in being a great mummy, we have a clean home, she eats well, in fact she loves her food.
however, there are so many friends of mine who are taking theirs in ill.
and it doesnt seem fair because its always my child that picks it up. i now feel nervous everytime shes ill, because of the pressure from the school.

any ideas on what to say to the school at this meeting????

mousmous Mon 26-Jan-15 19:51:08

2 issues
- if your dc is ill keep them home
- have you seen a gp? unless it is her first winter in a bug infested school/nursery setting it does sound like she is ill a lot

MisForMumNotMaid Mon 26-Jan-15 19:51:50

I thought attendance figures didn't kick in till yr1. It seams a shame they're putting so much pressure on.

Just hold your ground. She's well fed and looked after, you don't keep her home for a sniffel nor get a doctors note for every bout of sickness. Just be honest. These figures pressures are rediculous.

CakeMakesMeHappy Mon 26-Jan-15 19:54:14

I guess just explain that she is genuinely poorly. Hope she feels better soon.

Marmaduke3 Mon 26-Jan-15 19:56:09

yes, it does seem like shes ill a lot, its draining, because i cant bare seeing her poorly, shes my pride and joy.
other children in the same class dont seem to get as much, but i know some of them bring them in after they have been up all night coughing with temperatures etc.
i also think hygiene is a major concern in reception.

BackforGood Mon 26-Jan-15 19:58:36

Below 85% is pretty low.
Schools have to be seen to be challenging all those with attendance lower than 85% (but it's a lot higer when the checks kick in in some schools - 90% or 92%).
Of course it's not a good idea to let things just pass in Reception, as that's where habits start to form. MisFor
There are always genuine absences that get caught in the line though, of any crude system like picking a % point - explain each absence and I'm sure there won't be any issue. The school will be able to demonstrate that they are being pro-active, some other families who are actually being a bit lax, may be jolted into improving attendance. Job done.

jwpetal Mon 26-Jan-15 20:42:52

if your little one is not yet 5, then attendance does not matter and they cannot hold you to account as she is not yet at legal age to start school. Once they are 5, the school can meet with you, but just explain to them the issue. It is well known that children get a lot of illnesses in reception. My gp said that they will not give letters to schools and do not want their office clogged up with 'minor' illnesses. that this has been explained to the LEAs. Stand your ground as you know what is right for your daughter. On a side note, it is worth having a general meeting with the gp to see if maybe there is an underlying issue such as low iron or vitamin d deficiency. it could also be worth questioning the school on their hygiene in class and their assurance that children are not attending school when they should not be such as with fever etc.

admission Mon 26-Jan-15 21:00:59

JWpetal, whilst you might be right about the fact that the school cannot hold OP to account, the bottom line is that others like Ofsted are holding the school to account for all pupils in the school, including reception children. So they will be concerned that attendance is low and be trying to improve it. It is a fact that attendance in nursery and reception is usually lower than other year groups in primary schools and part of the reason must be that they catch everything at this age whereas they do start to gain some immunity as they grow older.
If the child is genuinely ill then there is no issue and this is going through an exercise that the school needs to do. Just be positive about the fact that she will be in school as far as is possible.

Marmaduke3 Mon 26-Jan-15 21:07:14

thankyou, jwpetal, that was really helpful!!
i hadnt thought about a possible vitamin d or iron deficiency.
i have already questioned the schools pastoral support re lack of hygiene, and i will most definitely do it again at the meeting.
they simply say, they cannot account for what every child is up to, e.g. when going to the toilet, because they dont have enough staff.

mousmous Mon 26-Jan-15 21:12:12

no, but they can do a handwashing rollcall when at the start of the day, before eating, after playground...

morethanpotatoprints Mon 26-Jan-15 21:14:01

This is ridiculous OP, just ignore them.
It is a box ticking exercise to show Ofsted they chase absences up.
They would have had a field day with my parents, I was never in school as had really bad asthma, before the time of inhalers.

All my kids missed lots of school during reception and y1 was bad but not as often as reception.
They pick up lots at this age and are exposed to previously unexposed bugs.

Don't worry, just go and tell them what you have told us, there's newt they can do about it.

What a state we have come to when parents are worried about keeping their dc off school when genuinely ill.

I hope she is better soon and thanks to you, who is doing a fab job.

Lara2 Mon 26-Jan-15 21:15:11

jwpetal - it doesn't matter if your reception child is 4 or 5, once they are attending school full time, they are legally bound the same as any other child to attend everyday, unless there is a formal agreement with the staff at the school that they attend part time.

meditrina Mon 26-Jan-15 21:24:14

If using schools, you do not have to start your DC before the term after which they turn 5. But if you choose yo enrol them, they should attend.

You cannot be fined before a DC reaches statutory age, but other attendance management policies can be activated and that is what appears to have happened here.

Yes, pupils new to group settings come down with a lot of illnesses, and winter (cool, damp) does seem to be a peak time for random viruses. The school will have seen all this before, and it might help if you see this as a chance to work in partnership with the school. They need to check that there is nothing else going on, rather than just a run of bad luck with illnesses, you get a chance to show how co-operative you are whilst getting all the medical stuff firmly on record.

Marmaduke3 Mon 26-Jan-15 21:31:30

hi Morethanpotatoprints.... that was so kind of you, thankyou!!
i totally agree, its all paperwork, to show ofsted they are doing their job properly.
they seem to pull in good parents like myself, but they dont appear to question those who bring their children in ill, e.g. there is a 48 hour rule, if they are sick, not allowed back until 48 hours have passed. and i know parents who havent kept to this.

Quitethewoodsman Mon 26-Jan-15 21:43:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 26-Jan-15 21:47:56

Please tell me that people are posting about nurseries by mistake and it isn't a considered policy at nursery?

Nursery is childcare, surely up to the parents.

MisForMumNotMaid Mon 26-Jan-15 21:51:53

At my middle DC's school they had to do a sharp U turn before Xmas on the attendance letters. Parents were so intimidated by the last round of them that the school had an awful bout of sickness. Teachers and TA's were dropping like flies and attendance did drop to an all time low.

I don't believe in keeping them off for a little cold but at 4 they are so vulnerable to picking up every bloomin bout of everything. It isn't necessarily habit forming. It is a vicious cycle. If they're in recovery from one thing they're more vulnerable to the next.

Hold your head up, be honest with them. They're just covering their bases and its not easy to pick the good parents based on a spread sheet of info.

I feel that these things go in phases. If she gets it all out her system now, chances are next year she'll be the one with the attendance certificates.

clam Mon 26-Jan-15 21:52:37

That will be 85% of the school days so far this year. If she had no more days off this academic year, then the % would look better. If a child had one day off in the first week of September, their attendance would be 80% at that point (1/5 absence).

LifeHuh Mon 26-Jan-15 21:57:59

Where I am it has been a terrible winter for illness, particularly the cough/ temperature / feeling like death that goes away and then comes back just as you are relaxing...
So what you are describing sounds par for the course for many people here. (My teenage DS , who usually manages full attendance, had two separate bouts of illness before Xmas)
Explain to the Head exactly what you have said in your post- your DD has been genuinely ill, the school need to follow up on absence but they don't want genuinely ill children in school.

Monica101 Mon 26-Jan-15 21:58:49

Don't be bullied by the school OP if they take that tone with you (hopefully it is more out of concern they want to talk to you).

Just stand your ground, be calm and unemotional about it. Say she is quite prone to getting ill recently, when she's too ill to come to school you obviously don't send her. If you want to fob them off a bit then say you will be starting her on vitamins to hopefully improve her immune system.

justdrifting Mon 26-Jan-15 22:02:28

My DD was exactly the same in reception. She never went to nursery and was looked after by grandparents, just seemed to take a while for her immunity to kick in.

I would go to the meeting and just explain that these have been genuine days off.

AgentProvocateur Mon 26-Jan-15 22:15:17

Quitethewoodsman, it's not 1.5 days off a week - it's less than one. It's still quite a lot though, over a term.

Quitethewoodsman Mon 26-Jan-15 22:17:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Quitethewoodsman Mon 26-Jan-15 22:19:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

clam Mon 26-Jan-15 22:22:39

But averaged out over the year (assuming no more illness), that would be around 93%, which is "acceptable," (unless they've changed the threshold again, which they might well have).

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