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AIBU?

School attendance.. feeling the pressure!

24 replies

Bee29 · 22/11/2019 07:52

DC’s school has a problem with persistent average. I think it’s partly because we live in a seasonal area with low wages therefore many people take their holidays in term time. Anyway.. the school are desperate to get their attendance up. So children are being to come in 24 hours after a bug rather than 48 etc (surely that will make the problem worse spreading it around).

Anyway, generally my children’s attendance is pretty good. My son is nearly 9 and last year his attendance was 99 percent. He was lucky not to get ill. In previous years it’s been lower.

Now it comes to DD. She’s 4 and only started in September. She also has additional needs.

Her attendance isn’t terrible but I can’t imagine it’s going to be great. She keeps getting pink eye and the school don’t want her in with it obviously (even though she’s not poorly with it, she’s contagious). Yet if she isn’t in they are questioning me when she will be back.

I feel like I can’t win.

She’s also going to start regular speech therapy in clinics. The teacher has said it’s fine if she misses school for this but..

Letters are sent home if attendance drops under 95 percent. We aren’t at that level yet but Probably will be soon.

Aibu to think this is a really crap system in the school?

I don’t keep my children off for no reason but will
Keep them off if needed.

Just feeling the pressure.

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WaterSheep · 22/11/2019 08:00

You don't need to keep her off for conjunctivitis.

As for the letters don't worry, as she's only 4 there's no legal requirement for her to be at school.

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Quartz2208 · 22/11/2019 08:04

Take the speech therapy paperwork in letters go out if it’s unexplained

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orangeteal · 22/11/2019 08:06

Missing 5% of school is a lot, it's 10 days, if you're not having a term time holiday and there isn't a serious bout of illness (which couldn't be helped anyway) there's not much reason a healthy child should go under it. You don't need a child to stay off for conjunctivitis, I've never had to. How many speech therapy apts are there? My children have hospital apts, I try to arrange in holidays when I can though not always possible of course. I keep dental and drs apts outside school hours.

We have taken our kids out for holiday (shock horror) and still not gone under 95%, ever.

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adaline · 22/11/2019 08:07

I thought current advice was that children with conjunctivitis could attend school so long as they were receiving treatment?

If they won't let her attend they're shooting themselves in the foot with that one!

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SnuggyBuggy · 22/11/2019 08:08

Remember all the school can do is whinge at you, they can't actually do anything to punish you.

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Bee29 · 22/11/2019 08:15

@WaterSheep DD’s school policy states they must be kept off for it 😭

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Bee29 · 22/11/2019 08:17

Also, I know how to keep good attendance. My sons attendance was 99 percent last year (1 day off) and his attendance is 100 percent so far this term. But it’s DD. They seem to pick up everything in the first year of school.

Speech therapy has always been done at school but after speaking to her speech therapist she has no time or funding to visit schools anymore because of the amount of children that need to be seen. DD’s teacher has granted permission for this so it’s not really a problem.

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Bee29 · 22/11/2019 08:18

She is severely speech delayed and is soon to start intensive speech therapy rather than the usual every half term assessment within school. Going will benefit her greatly.

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WaterSheep · 22/11/2019 08:23

Bee NHS advice says differently.

www.nhs.uk/conditions/conjunctivitis/

If they are insisting children are kept off when there is no need, yet happily take children just 24 hours after D&V I would be having words with the headteacher about the inconsistencies in their policies.

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Beveren · 22/11/2019 08:29

Does she have an EHCP? I would have thought the answer would be for speech therapy to happen in school. She should have a speech and language programme anyway, as the therapy will work better if it's generalised through everything else she does.

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Bee29 · 22/11/2019 08:30

Thank you @WaterSheep. It is frustrating me too.

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Bee29 · 22/11/2019 08:32

She does have an EHCP but it has been decided that she will start speech therapy within clinic. The speech therapist had already discussed this with DD’s teacher before me so I feel like that’s out of my control. She has had speech therapy within Pre school-school up until this point.

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isittooearlyforgin · 22/11/2019 08:46

There is a code the school can enter On the register for education off site, which the speech and language will be so it doesn’t affect the attendance figures. If you take the paperwork in it can be counted as this rather than an absence.

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hazeyjane · 22/11/2019 08:56

It is bizarre to hear that about the speech therapy - there will be other children who need speech therapy at school, usually the therapist comes in and sees several children (which costs less and saves time) and then sets targets and strategies for people at the school to do regularly (daily in ds's case) Sometimes they will do a block of therapy intensely, but again, this is done in school. Is it a private speech therapist?

Anyway - if there is an EHCP, you have a record of the appointments and she is having time off with legitimate health issues then there should be no problem.

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Hepsibar · 22/11/2019 08:58

I think it's good they are not accepting a lesser standard of attendance for a "special needs" child. Education is important for all. We all know though that the earlier speech issues are addressed the better and she find life much easier as she gets older.

I am sure the school, if they have copies of your Speech Therapy letters will take that into account as they would for a child with heart issues or other health issues. Perhaps you need to let the school office/headteacher have the info, not just the class teacher, so it's all joined up.

Why does she keep getting conjunctivitis is it an age thing, is she a little run down or is it related to a specific special needs condition or diet?

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The3Ls · 22/11/2019 09:05

Not bizarre at all I can see 8 children in clinic in an appropriate room (schools really struggle with space so accommodation is often not suitable) with everything to hand. Also parens need to be involved they are still prime educators at that age. Clinic therapy is very evidence based for certain difficulties. In school I'd never have 8 in the same school anyway but also have to add in time to gather and pick up correct items which are never quite right as children change fast so therapy is less effective. Staff are often not available to watch so practise inbetween in not good whereas a parent is there watching. Then staff would be doing the regular inbetween rather than trained SLTs. I do lots of in school work but sometimes clinic is absolutely the right place for delivery. It can be considered either 'education off site'. Or 'medical' so should nt impact attendance

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hazeyjane · 22/11/2019 09:14

Ah ok. I have obviously only seen the way it works at ds's school - but there are high levels of children with SEN who have SALT involvement. At the preschool I work at we usually have a Speech therapist who comes in and works with us and then the parents.

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Theflying19 · 22/11/2019 09:32

Send a photo in of her with conjunctivitis... And re speech therapy it should be education off site surely?

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chocorabbit · 22/11/2019 09:48

OP, if it is just illness just try to ignore your feelings as they are not directly targeting you, it's just their policy or the LA's.

In reception DS had caught lots of colds with fever, he was weak etc. He would take 2-3 days off every time but was a brilliant student too but we still kept receiving the obligatory letters.

I was irritated because I was called to school to talk to the attendance officer even though we had cited illness every single time and I thought the school knew the effort we had put with all our children who were top students but not just that what pissed me right off was that she didn't just reiterate their attendance policy or emphasised how detrimental missing lessons is but she clearly patronised me and snarkily mentioned how DS2 and DS1 had missed on one ocassion exactly the same days and how somebody would find this suspicious. Those days I couldn't and didn't dare to answer back effectively but wasn't it obvious that they had both caught a bug from a THIRD person at the same time?

I even (like most people) book all their dental or opticians appointments out of school hours and had specifically rearranged hearing tests so they could attend school first. DS2 has special treatment which only takes place during school hours and have specifically requested to take the earliest slot (we go by train and he would miss the whole school day otherwise) and photocopied the appointment ready for the school office so I don't waste their time. Now that we can rearrange for after 3 months we only book during half term.

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orangeteal · 22/11/2019 10:29

@Bee29 you should be able to get them to review their policy on conjunctivitis, I remember when our nursery changed theirs, is it public health they get their advice from for this stuff? If they've reduced stomach virus quarantine I'm sure they'd do this.

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MrsWombat · 22/11/2019 11:17

www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/Guidance_on_infection_control_in%20schools_poster.pdf
No exclusion time for conjunctivitis.

Medical appointments are coded differently to illnesses but still count towards the percentage figure although the EWO will take that into account. You might be able to get them to code it as educated elsewhere if you do some school work at home. Have a chat to the school and see what they advise. They don't want bad attendance marks either.

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Whattodoabout · 22/11/2019 11:26

Pretty sure she should be allowed to go to school with conjunctivitis. They shouldn’t flout the 48 hour rule just to get attendance up, it actually makes no sense to do that anyway. If someone comes in to school the day after having D&V they are still contagious so will probably pass it onto more children who will then miss school...

Primary school is a hotbed for germs. Warm building, lots of young children with developing immune systems whose hand washing techniques probably leave a lot to be desired and they’re generally cooped up in the same room together for hours. It’s just naturally going to spread Infections and it’s only sheer luck if your children miss out on it.

Attendance awards are ridiculous, how can you praise someone for not getting sick?

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Bee29 · 22/11/2019 13:12

Thanks all. I took her to the docs this morning. After being told it’s viral for a while (it’s always with a cold). He believes it’s actually not conjunctivitis but to do with her adenoids her tear duct becoming blocked as well (I don’t know the exact terminology) So Her eyes aren’t actually contagious but obviously the cold is. I’ve sent her back to school and explained this. All sorted. I would explain a lot. He said it was more prominent in one eye for her. Also, every time she’s had a sticky eye not one of us has caught it and it seems to come and go over a week at a time or so rather than being consistent.

As for speech and language. It’s been suggested she has intensive speech therapy within clinic as speech therapist believes she ready for it after months of assessments within the classroom.

Her attendance hasn’t dropped below the threshold for the school to be concerned yet so hopefully it won’t do now 😃

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Bee29 · 22/11/2019 13:13

My son had an attendance award trip with others last school year @Whattodoabout. I don’t agree with it though. Last year he was lucky enough to not get ill. In previous years he hasn’t been so lucky!

This year it will probably be the case of DS getting one and not DD. It’s a load of rubbish.

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