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Attendance we go again

(54 Posts)
Anastasie Tue 17-Nov-15 17:08:10

I've just had a letter in DS2's book bag (he is 8). Basically saying his attendance is at 92.2% (how many sessions is that? I don't know) and that if it's up to 96% by Dec 4th, he'll get to go to a pantomime for free.

I'm reluctant to support this strategy as I feel it is unfair, counterproductive and irrelevant as I make the decisions about his attendance, not him.

It seems so short sighted. I'm not even going to tell him about it - imagine how he will feel if he doesn't achieve it due to illness?

WHY do primary schools do this? Secondary, where there may be a problem with truancy, then sure - good idea. In some ways.

Primary - I totally don't see the point, unless it is to provide a useful carrot for parents whose children don't want to attend, and who give in rather than try to address the causes of this?

If that's so then they are presuming rather a lot in sending it to me.

If not, then I can genuinely see no point to it at all, except to get their figures up?

MM5 Tue 17-Nov-15 17:42:24

Why do they do it? Because it actually works at improving attendance in many schools!

Do I agree with it? No! Do most schools agree with it? No!

But, schools have to be seen to be doing something and likely, if they have got to this point, they have tried everything!

The next step? Giving parents vouchers for getting their children to school! Seriously! The excuses I have heard are incredible and what the child says bears not resemblance on the most persistent absentee children.

BTW... National expectations have increased regarding persistent absence. It use to be 85% and now it is 90%.

Anastasie Tue 17-Nov-15 17:48:35

I did think perhaps it is aimed more at those who do keep their children at home for spurious reasons.

I can see how that would work.

I think I just dislike being lumped in with them. If it's presumed my child's attendance will increase purely by virtue of his wanting to win a prize, then they are sadly mistaken.

MM5 Tue 17-Nov-15 17:50:40

Likely, it is any child under 95%. You just happen to fall in the category for whatever reason. Don't take it personally.

Anastasie Tue 17-Nov-15 17:58:05

Thank you, I won't - I may have let the HT know of my misgivings though and I did ask that my child isn't informed of the pantomime thing.

He already feels too responsible for things and it would make him worried.

mrz Tue 17-Nov-15 18:18:31

mrz Tue 17-Nov-15 18:19:21

Sorry wrong thread

roguedad Tue 17-Nov-15 20:47:06

I'm sick of the attendance obsession. My wife has complained to the head of our DD's school about the policy of the associated senior school head shaking the hands of all the kids who've been 100%, at the end of year prize-giving. We think it stigmatizes kids who've been sick. Our older child missed out one year because he'd had to go to hospital following an injury at school!

We pay no attention to this nonsense.

MM5 Tue 17-Nov-15 21:21:07

You can blame the attendance obsession firmly at the feet of government and Ofsted.

I suppose the question is, should we ignore absentees?

Who's responsibility is it to ensure children go to school? Parents, right?

Who gets told off, has an officially writer report written , about how rubbish the attendance is and that the SCHOOL has to get better.

No responsibility belongs with parents, correct?

Wolfiefan Tue 17-Nov-15 21:26:25

At just over 90% he's missing nearly 10% of his schooling. Is there a particular reason?

IoraRua Tue 17-Nov-15 22:04:52

It's all about pester power. In the school I teach in we have parents who likely would never send their children in if we didn't put on some exciting activities and make school a fun place to be.

Do we like having to do it, not particularly, but you do what you gotta do to get them in and learning.

jellyfrizz Tue 17-Nov-15 23:06:02

So much stupidness. As a infant school teacher I sit through assemblies where it's built up to be such a big thing. As though the little loves have any control over whether they are at school or not.
Well done to all the children who aren't sick or don't have parents that aren't able to get you to school everyday!
It's all your fault if you were ill or your parents have problems (like you don't have enough to deal with) year 1 didn't win the attendance award.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Tue 17-Nov-15 23:22:07

You would think the stats would reflect genuine illness so they attend 100% of the time the could. DD missed out because we had an early optitians appointment, she arrived at 9.20, had she`d been `late` she would have got a certificate!! (When she got to class to put her bags away and then sneak into assembly, she found a boy had been left behind and was destroying the classroom)

MM5 Wed 18-Nov-15 05:21:54

Genuine? How do we know it is genuine?

I have had parents lie to me about illness or medical appointments. The little ones then tell you that they were actually late up the night before and slept in, went to the closest so amusement park or some other reason.

Hard to sift the truth from the lies and God forbid if the school questions the parent as we are jus meddlesome jobsworths.

But, then comes the government beating us over the head because attendance is not good enough and what we are doing about it.

Seriously, at what point will parents who cause these troubles be held accountable?

redcaryellowcar Wed 18-Nov-15 06:19:38

I appreciate what posters say about deciding if attendance is genuine or not, but imo why even discuss it other than with parents of the children who are struggling to be in school 'enough'.
it maddens me that parents will bring in desperately ill children, probably in part due to work commitments but possibly also linked to maintaining good attendance only to infect other children who then legitimately will have time off. My DC was awaiting a tonsillectomy last year meaning each and every bug hit him hard, so he missed a lot of preschool, not ideal but just one of those things, he's now tonsil free and seems more resistant to bugs or they aren't knocking him for doc like last winter.

exLtEveDallas Wed 18-Nov-15 06:21:52

I don't like attendance awards for the way that they stigmatise the chronically ill - it's not the child's fault they are asthmatic, have eds, have a liver disorder, or even need dental treatment etc.

However, I can see the way they work with children that need to 'man up' about very minor illnesses - the sore throat, the 'tired because I spent most of the night on the X box', the stomach ache that could be solved by having a poo... It's amazing how a quick mention - "Oh that's a shame Bobby, you were at 100%, but I'll phone mum now" suddenly becomes "Ah it's OK miss, I'm feeling a bit better now"

I think there should be an allowance made for medical appointments because children don't get a say in when they are held, and for those children who have a known chronic illness.

fitzbilly Wed 18-Nov-15 06:29:25

Don't blame the school, they have a lot of pressure on them to show they are tackling attendance. Schools can't pick and chose who they send letters to, it has to be based on percentages. It is ridiculous, the school know it is ridiculous, but their hands are tied.

IguanaTail Wed 18-Nov-15 06:41:13

Routine medical appointments can be organised during the 13 weeks holiday.

People on MN seem to have no grasp of the volume of lies that are told to schools about absence. Even though there are many threads on here where posters advise people to lie to the school and take the day off ("and have fun!!") people insist that anything schools do to encourage attendance is bad. The patterns start in primary school. When we get the attendance certificates through from primaries we know damn well that those are the patterns we can also expect. Every few Fridays off. A few additional days after the holidays. Lateness during winter months. Lateness on a specific day of the week. Repeated medical appointments taking the whole day. Sporadic attendance where every week is broken 3 days in, 2 out. Next week 4 days in, one out. Next week in all week but 2 afternoons off for medical appointments.

We have had chronically ill children who have had major transplant operations with far better attendance than many flakey families. A child absent for 2 afternoons a week on dialysis whose attendance was higher than many.

You cannot have an attendance intervention system just for the kids whose parents are liars and/or have no interest in education. It has to be for everyone. Yes, ideally children would only stay off school if they were really ill but trust me that is nothing like the reality.

Sirzy Wed 18-Nov-15 06:46:41

I don't agree with any sort of prize for attendance, but at least the rate of 96% is one that should be achievable to most otherwise healthy pupils.

Still doesn't tackle those with chronic health conditions though whereby schools still seem to think it's ok to discriminate against them.

IguanaTail Wed 18-Nov-15 06:59:22

What about those without chronic health problems who are just susceptible. How about those whose parents lie and say they are ill because they can't be bothered to get them out of bed? How about those who are never normally off but have a week off with a shoulder injury? There are a gazillion permutations and yet schools are judged on their attendance figures and asked to show what interventions they've done. They can't just turn around and say that they don't really believe in that.

IguanaTail Wed 18-Nov-15 07:00:12

Plus with many kids, the carrot of something held above their heads can actually make a big difference.

exLtEveDallas Wed 18-Nov-15 07:04:01

Routine medical appointments can be organised during the 13 weeks holiday

Not in my experience Iguana. DD needed two teeth out at the back of her mouth and it had to be done in day surgery. She had a pre op appointment that was in the middle of the day in September that was fine because she was able to register before and after but the actual appt was for a full day in October. When I asked if it could be done in the school holidays the nearest appointment (remember this was September) was at Easter!

A friend has also recently had 3 surgeries for her sons grumbling appendix cancelled - he finally had it done last week but has already missed 6 days of school for pre-op appts and the cancelled surgery days.

Also, some routine medical appts cannot take place at local hospitals - another friend whose child has an illness has to take them to a hospital in Brimingham every six weeks when they live in Worcs - it means a day off school every time.

That's why I believe allowances should be made for medical appts and known illnesses.

MythicalKings Wed 18-Nov-15 07:05:13

It's grossly unfair. I'm glad this didn't happen when my DSs were at school. Both suffered from chronic asthma and had very poor attendance in the winter months. The schools were very understanding and sent work home.

It's discriminatory and I'm surprised someone hasn't made an issue of this.

SpangleDragon Wed 18-Nov-15 07:09:48

Turning it around's not your child's fault if they can't run as fast as other children, and don't win the race on sports day? Or if they study as hard as they can but someone else still does better...

I'm not saying that the presentee-ism is right or wrong, but all through our lives we miss out of things that are beyond our control

Sirzy Wed 18-Nov-15 07:11:20

With regards medical appointments you also have to remember that everyone aims for the holiday/after school ones where possible and they simply don't have enough to go around.

With one of his consultants Ds is on 2 monthly appointments. We don't get much choice of appointments because all the best have well and truly gone by that point!

He has been on another waiting list for the past 6 months, when that appointments comes we are taking in no matter what time!

Other appointments are at the children's hospital an hours drive away, they can take a few hours so often it does mean a whole day off school.

Thankfully his school are pretty sensible and we work together to make sure Ds is supported whilst off. They only do certificates for attendance which although I don't like I can sort of see why they do them but if they tried to do trips etc without making reasonable adjustment then I would soon be complaining!

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