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Attendance letter - should I say anything?

(20 Posts)
skewiff Sun 21-Oct-12 20:20:52

DS has mild cerebral palsy/hemiplegia.

He seems to be prone to catching things more than other children. It seems to go in spates. Last year it was colds. When he was younger it was tummy bugs. This year its gone back to being tummy bugs again.

So far this half term he's had 3 rounds of tummy bugs and vomiting - all in consecutive weeks. So this half term he's had 6 days off so far. This includes a day off to go to Great Ormond Street. We also have more appointment days planned at Great Ormond Street for Botox and Moorfields eye hospital. They cannot be scheduled out of school time.

DS does an hour of physio before school so we've been late (5 minutes only each time) 6 times.

The letter came yesterday saying that we'll be monitored for lateness and attendance because DS is down to 83.3% on attendance.

I'm just wondering whether I should ignore this letter or go in and say something. Is it worth it? Will it change anything?

I've phoned every time he's been ill and said that I would like to bring him in prior to the 48 hours because I'm worried about DS's attendance being low. But the school have insisted that DS stay off for the full 48 hours. And it does take him this long to recover anyway.

Do you all ignore the letter if you get one?

Thank you.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 21-Oct-12 20:30:09

Who is he being monitored by, and for what purpose, and what will happen if his attendance drops further?

Ilovecake1 Sun 21-Oct-12 20:33:55

Hi, oh it's a horrible feeling I know to well about but there is nothing you can do about a child's illness!! I had a letter like this last term...but my daughters was 79%! I just ignored it and thought surely the head would understand?!?! I hope anyway.

skewiff Sun 21-Oct-12 20:39:58

The letter came from the head. It was signed by her. They didn't say what would happen - just that we would be monitored.

My instinct it to just ignore the letter.

I know if I go and speak to them about the letter they'll get all uppity about us being late and say its irrelevant what we have to do in the morning. They're very jobs worth.

So that's why my instinct is to ignore it. I just want to carry on doing my best but not get any more stressed than current circumstances make us already.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 21-Oct-12 20:44:20

3 options.

1) ignore
2) write back and thank them, as you were trying to keep a record yourself but with a disabled kid it's hard without support so you appreciate this.
3) write back asking the questions I just asked.

skewiff Sun 21-Oct-12 21:47:50

OK Starlight thank you for those tips ...

If I write back I would want to write in the letter all of our (very valid, IMO) reasons for being late and absent.

I want to say that I feel very stressed about DS being so absent and trying to get him to school on time and that letters such as these to do not help matters, they just add to existing stress.

I think that's why I'm moving towards the 'ignore' option - because I imagine I'll just cause conflict writing down the above. But if I speak I need to speak honestly.

provisionseeker Sun 21-Oct-12 22:27:05

It's probably just a standard letter so I wouldn't worry about it - they know your circumstances. I would ignore it. My ds only had 44% attendance last year (due to school not letting him be there full time) and I didn't get 1 letter!

blackeyedsusan Mon 22-Oct-12 10:11:28

I would write back and thank them for their concern but as you ahve contacted school on each occasion that he has a bout of d and v and they have insisted that he does not return before 48 hours have they now changed their policy to allow children to return after 24 hours? if you are feeling paticularly arsey you could ask them what measures they have in place in school to minimise the spread of infection.

also point out that he is attending medical appointments due to his disability and these can not be arrranged at other times.

if it does come back to you because he is off school then you have a paper trail pointing back to all you have done to ensure he is in school.

not sure there is much you can do about the being late because of physio thing.. I think that may be a case of tough luck, start earlier, be on time... (or you could start askng for physio to be done in school.. grin)

Nigel1 Mon 22-Oct-12 10:41:40

Make sure that you keep an accurate diary of who you spoke to and when; when she was off school and why. Email the school on each occasion.

skewiff Mon 22-Oct-12 12:49:55

OK - thanks everyone.

I actually spoke to the head, as I was leaving the playground, and so have passed on the thoughts about the letter. The head said that the letter was just sent out to everyone - but seemed to not believe me that DS had had a bug 3 times so far. So I will start a record of everything. Thanks for that tip.

I will email from now on as well.

The head asked what they could do to help the stress of our situation (re exercises etc) and I said that we were doing fine and our best (we really are - and I don't want school to do the exercises as its quite detailed and difficult to really do them properly) - but I asked that the school could give us an inch of understanding for the complexities of our situation.

In the past they have been v. unsympathetic. This is a new head and actually she was much more sympathetic than the last - so I've come away hoping that I wasn't rude in saying that ...

BeeMom Mon 22-Oct-12 13:54:39

We have gotten letters when dd was in hospital - they knew where she was, knew why she was there, but apparently they are automatically generated.

Dd missed 87 days of school last year, probably 75 of them she was inpatient. Simply document everything, when ds is late and why, when he is absent and why. Make up a letter that the team at GOSH can just sign and date to verify when you are there, and contact the GP whenever he is sick and requires a day off. You may find that you are at the doc's office a lot, but if you explain to the gp that the school is breathing down your neck re justifiable absences, they should be reasonable about it. If nothing else, perhaps the gp can figure out some way to help with all the tummy upset.

Or... to prove a point you can send ds in and they can call you to collect him (or he can make the rest of the class sick... they might think twice about questioning you after that).

Sorry, wish it could be easier...

nothinginthefridge Mon 22-Oct-12 13:59:06

We've had these letters too.

We wrote back and told the school that we will not accept a computer generated letter from them again.

If they must write to us in relation to DS attendance, then it must be one personal to his circumstances.

Not gone one since, even though he has been off school grin

bochead Mon 22-Oct-12 14:13:19

Never make a phone call when an email will do. It means you can print out a neat log of events if ever needed.

Golden rule taught to me by Mumsnetters.

Cover your arse with a GP visit for every sickness too. They'll keep a log, which again can be accessed if needed. (eg if threatened with court).

I just ignore these letters now. DS spent most of year 2 not allowed to be in full time education, while I fumed at the school/LA. It took a Tribunal to force the support to be put in place to enable him to be full time. It seems attendance is only important when THEY want it to be iyswim, & I'm no longer scared of telling them that. (DS is rarely ill, but has lots of hosp appts)

skewiff Mon 22-Oct-12 21:17:00

I think that's it. I just didn't know whether to be scared of the letter or not. I asked the head teacher what the letter meant this morning. She just talked about figures - so I said 'will DS lose his place' and she assured me he would have a place right through the school.

So is it going to court or paying a fine? Is that what I should be worrying about. Is that why I should be logging everything? What actually happens to you? And how low does his attendance/punctuality need to get for them to take action?

I'm not intending on getting to this level of lowness, but just would like - for my own sanity - to know exactly what I'm dealing with.

Thank you.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 22-Oct-12 21:48:32

Well if you need more provision, or adequate progress is not made and you need support/home tutor etc. they can't just blame it all on poor attendance and ignore you.

skewiff Mon 22-Oct-12 22:07:56

Oh I see.

So I'm not logging as proof against having to go to court then.

How low does attendance have to get to before they threaten you with that?

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 22-Oct-12 22:09:54

They would dare for a disabled child.

mariammma Tue 23-Oct-12 00:01:30

I would write to school nurse enclosing a copy of said narky letter, asking her to discuss infection control with the school. Cc the HT.

But then, I'm a bitter, sneaky, over-anxious and neglectful mum grin

mariammma Tue 23-Oct-12 00:03:13

Gives you the paper trail. But Saves the risk of needing to vent, cos to a nurse you'd send a factual, unemotive third party letter.

Lougle Tue 23-Oct-12 09:47:27

This is rubbish!

DD1 had a total of 77 school days off last year. That took her down to just over 60% attendance.

I didn't get a single comment, note or letter.

As long as your DS has his absences explained, then it should suffice.

I, also, would be asking that they ensure that hospital appointments are annotated as Authorised Absence, rather than Sick or Unauthorised Absences, and as such should not contribute to his overall absence rate.

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