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Low attendance help, it's just a numbers game

(7 Posts)
notamumadad Thu 10-Oct-13 19:01:56

As my nickname suggests I'm a dad not a mum but feel this is as good a place as any to share todays experience.

For various reasons my 14 year old daughter had a low attendance record in year 9 so we were invited along to a meeting at the school to see why and see how they could help.

The meeting was with a teacher and some external organisation (council attendance officer or something similar)

The meeting started well, the teacher was great and was sympathetic and helpful.

We then got to the attendance officer!!!

Her help/advice and what she effectively said to me and my daughter;

"It doesn't matter how poorly you are, try to go to school, get signed in, then immediately get excused and go back home."

Her reasoning for this was;

"It takes her department out of the equation"

Effectively the whole purpose of the meeting as far as she was concerned was a numbers game, as long as it's a tick in the attendance box is all that matters.

Have any other parents experienced this?

Cynderella Thu 10-Oct-13 22:37:57

I'm surprised this was said to you, as a parent, but not surprised that it happens. If children get sent home ill, it's not recorded as an absence. High absence is referred to the Education Welfare Officer attached to that school and I suppose, like us in schools, they have their targets.

If your daughter has genuine reasons for not being in school, they should be authorised by you the parent, and the EWO called in if there is a cause for concern. Ideally, that should result in a meeting to look for ways to increase attendance, rather than massage statistics. I genuinely believe that poor attendance reduces attainment but it has other consequences too. It's in everyone's interests to address poor attendance but, in your case, it seems as if it was a tick box exercise with a view to exploiting a 'loophole'.

Lottie4 Fri 11-Oct-13 10:03:18

Meeting sounds like a waste of time. Perhaps the officer was thinking along the lines that once your daughter was in school, she wouldn't want to ask to come home. Even though they are at comp, if a child is ill at my daughter's school, they can go to student reception and ask to go home, but the school does expect an adult to pick them up (I guess to cover themselves in case they get worse on way home). If she was to go in, perhaps, you could request that she only be allowed home if one of her parents comes to assess.

Might just have been a bad year and I don't know your particular circumstances, but what you want is help so your daughter does go to school.

notamumadad Fri 11-Oct-13 12:59:27

"Might just have been a bad year and I don't know your particular circumstances, but what you want is help so your daughter does go to school."

Yes, she has had pretty torrid 18 months with very irregular and heavy periods, was verging on anaemic at the best of times and got totally drained to a degree she was a danger to herself.

She is a very shy and easily embarrassed girl too, so sorting herself out at school was nigh on impossible.

Fortunately, she appears over the worst of it now, but I'm still not happy about her going in on some occasions but feel totally pressured that she goes in come what may and we have already had a couple of occasions where she has fainted at school.

Although she is 14, she is young for her age and there is no way we would allow the school to discharge her without me going and picking her up.

On reflection I think the EWO (if that's what she was) may have been trying to help.

It's obvious my daughter is a genuine case and not skiving at all, so she may have felt she shouldn't have really been involved anyway.

Still quite shocking though that they try to fiddle the numbers like this

PostBellumBugsy Fri 11-Oct-13 13:11:45

I'm not surprised or shocked. Schools and local authorities are judged on their statistics.

I don't think you should worry too much about any pressure from the attendance officer from that perspective. Let them worry about the statistics and numbers. It could be that they were genuinely worried about why your daughter was absent so much? Once it became clear that it was genuine health problems, maybe the attendance officer was rather ham-fistedly trying to encourage you to get your daughter in more?

I'm sure you must be worried about your daughter's underlying health problems, as it sounds like she is missing a lot of school. It can be hard for children to make up lots of missed work. Have you been able to sort out the anaemia? There are lots of gentle iron supplements out there to take, which can sort that out really well (I've had to take them for years).

notamumadad Fri 11-Oct-13 15:14:24

she is a lot better now and so far has 100% attendance in year 10.

She's still very pale though and is easily worn out.

I must admit her diet isn't that good, getting her to eat her greens is nigh on impossible, but she does take multi-vitamins with iron.

The teacher was very good at the meeting and gave her a time out card she could show to the class teachers if she wanted to use the lavatory during a lesson rather than at break time when other girls are always hanging around the toilets.

Lottie4 Sat 12-Oct-13 11:03:40

Has she seen a doctor about her periods? I have a friend and know of a girl of 12 who take a tablet at the start of their periods and it reduces the flow without any side effects for them. Might be worth asking about this.

Hopefully it's something she'll grow out of. I had a terrible time the first three years, fainting like your daughter and lots of accidents, but things did settle down.

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