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back to sick notes

(9 Posts)
PastSellByDate Sat 28-Feb-15 08:10:09

Hello

you may remember quite a number of threads about schools requiring sick notes for absences - e.g. www.mumsnet.com/Talk/primary/a1629999-School-wants-GP-sick-note-for-any-further-absence

In a fairly garbled report on BBC Breakfast this morning (Saturday 28 Feb) we parents either have to provide a sicknote for 1 day's absence or 3 (which is the current statutory requirement). Schools no longer can take it on parents' word that a child was sick, but need independent confirmation from a doctor.

Now I do wonder if this isn't rather a lesson in unintended consequences for the DfE - who as you recall banned term time absences such as family holidays/ funerals/ weddings/ etc.... didn't specify exceptions or provide actual guidance to parents (let alone HTs) on how this should be managed - so each school (dependent entirely on their personality/ ethos) has adopted their own systems.

In my little corner of Birmingham parents go off on holiday a day or two before the end of term and fairly regularly call in saying their child is sick - it's 'girl scouts' like me that put off holidays or in fact take less holiday now, because it always is more expensive during school holidays.

So DfE boffins - do consider that ordinary folk, who want to follow the rules are seeing 3 things:

people flagrantly lying - oh little DC was ill and upon return hearing little DC talking to their kids about Disneyland Paris. And seeing that it's pretty well known DC went to Disneyland Paris but no sanction is taken.

anger - that honestly writing in requesting time off for a family event (say a wedding or a funeral) is declined. (Who are you to decide what is or isn't important in a family's life). The classic was St. Mediocre only allowoing 1 day's absence for a Scottish family wedding - and not allowing time to travel up and back by train (the family had request 2 days off - they cleverly responded by asking the school to arrange childcare and getting the child accompanied to them in Scotland - school allowed them to take 2 days).

exasperation - for those of us who feel this is 'the system' we have to work within it - have to fill in yet more forms and provide evidence and worry about whether we'll get approval or not.

I get that chronic absence is a problem - that 'the statistics' show a direct link between attendance & performance (I guess the quality of the teaching isn't much of an issue) - but I would put it to you that it is rather different for a well performing child with parents desirous of including them on a trip abroad, because of work related activity and a child who is poorly performing in the same situation.

and of course let's not get into those workers whose jobs require them to be in work during the summer (e.g. police/ travel industry/ etc....) - as I remember was discussed for those working the summer 2012 Olympics for example who wanted to take their family holiday prior to June 2012.

So DfE - whilst you're issuing edicts - how about requiring schools to provide information to parents about what work will be missed/ was missed during absence and supply 'catch-up/ homework' materials in advanace for approved absences or after the fact for illnesses, unapproved absences, etc.... Because it has been my experience that that rarely happens - even in a case of chronic illness where a child was off ill for weeks due to hospitalisation.

Ionacat Sat 28-Feb-15 10:52:24

I didn't see BBC Breakfast and I'm confused by your post. Are you saying that for all schools, all parents have to provide medical evidence that your son/ daughter is off sick?
I've done a quick google as I would have thought this would have been headline news especially in teaching world and although this is the policy in a few schools for more than three days, or for persistent absence. I can't see anything making it apply to all schools.

mrz Sat 28-Feb-15 10:58:07

The BBC report was very clear that only a tint minority of schools are asking for sick notes.
The parents group representative seemed to be saying it was ok if they followed the work place example of needing a note after seven days, while the headteacher representative said he didn't think schools should have a blanket policy but rather focus on regular absentees.

Eva50 Sat 28-Feb-15 11:53:54

I wonder if attendance figures are worse in Scotland where there isn't any of this nonsense. I have had a child in primary school for the last 15 years and this year, for the first time, we got a letter pointing out the disadvantages of taking holidays in term time. No one I know has ever had a letter about their child's attendance and hospital appointments are almost always in school time. I have never had this questioned and with two with sn's and two with problems with their vision we attend more than our fair share of appointments.

I have never taken term time holidays but have taken each of my three out for an odd day to play in music festivals. I have, twice, taken ds3 off for an (Friday) afternoon to travel to watch his brother play in an orchestral concert and consider these trips to be of huge educational value to them. I have always discussed it beforehand with their teachers and not had any objections. I would not dream of sending my dc's to school if they were unwell. I read on Mumsnet of people sending children with temperatures and a bottle of Calpol (our school wouldn't allow this). Sick children should be at home not out and about infecting others.

Perhaps there are some who take advantage of this more lenient stance but I don't know of anyone and my children's learning does not appear to be adversely affected by being kept of when they are unwell.

tiggytape Sat 28-Feb-15 16:41:42

Generally schools are not overly intrusive about occasional illness and certainly not intrusive about time out needed for medical appointments which cannot be arranged in the school holidays (seeing a consultant or speech therapist for example)

This is definitely not something all schools do or will do at all - just a tiny number for a small number of problematic cases where yes, I suppose there is concern that parents are lying (3 siblings in the same school always "ill" for identical days and come back with stories of Disneyland and other trips the following week). Mostly schools have no reason to be so official about it and they aren't.

It sounds more that you object to the policy at all rather than how it is implemented in the extreme cases. Time off in term time is not banned. It is just severely restricted to exceptional and one-off events which may include a funeral but may not include a 3 week holiday for a wedding in Australia for example.
Heads are trusted to decide what is exceptional and a one off event but if you wanted it more strictly defined, I suspect even fewer occasions would be permitted than is currently the case.
For decades the system was based on parental judgement with a 10 day expectation built in but unfortunately, it turned out: parents don’t cancel their May holiday just because little Freddie had 2 weeks off with chickenpox and then got Norovirus and an ear infection for another 2 weeks off. And people didn’t restrict it to just one holiday per year but threw in a few extra day trips, visits to granny, long weekends and duvet days as well. And people weren’t sensible about avoiding term time holidays at times when their child had fallen behind at school or even at times when their child had a GCSE exam to sit!

mrz Sat 28-Feb-15 16:50:10

I don't think any schools have a problem when children are absent if they are genuinely ill.
Nationally there are almost half a million pupils classed as persistent absentees... so a problem. From the BBC account it seems that the school has decided on a blanket policy requiring all pupils to provide evidence if they are absent more than three days (not a common policy) rather than single out the "problem" pupils/families. It was described as taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut which pretty much sums it up.

meditrina Sat 28-Feb-15 16:52:47

I thought the BBC report was hideously muddled.

It seems that one it two schools have attempted to ask for sick notes for all medical absences (? to avoid stigmatising those they think are taking the piss, it's required of everyone). But there is zero support from anywhere else for this (and stiff opposition from any doctor who has heard of it).

Adults in work can self-certify themselves for 7 days, and no-one has put forward a convincing reason why they cannot also self-certify their children for at least the same length of time.

IreneA78 Mon 02-Mar-15 15:09:08

I have heard nothing about this! If any of my DC are ill (primary or secondary) I have just sent in an email 'DC is unwell and won't be at school today' on the first day of any absence.
I don't share any medical details with them at all and certainly won't be getting sick notes.I bet GP surgeries are thrilled about this surgery-clogging idea!

user1484429451 Sat 14-Jan-17 22:00:17

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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