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AIBU?

To think the a referral to a school attendance officer already is OTT

19 replies

Citycat1 · 10/10/2022 20:32

My 5 year old is a summer baby so one of the younger ones. She's always bringing home illnesses and last year we, her parents were so low, as it was every 2 weeks. Being 4 years old at the time, we didn't pay much attention to the attendance priority and kept her off when she was unwell. This year, she's in year one. From the first day back, the message from the school has been loud and clear that attendance is very important and they aim for a whole school attendance of 97%

Already we, as a family have had a severe sickness bug, and now covid (both me and husband have positive tests)

Dd off sick for 2 days with it but will be a few more as really unwell. ( fever, cough, sore throat, sleeping in day, etc)

She has had a day off in the week for past 4 weeks. We're sending her in crying as she has felt unwell but feel pressure to send her in. School has had to call once and asked us to get her as she was too unwell to be there (she wasn't that bad first thing)

Today, I got a call from the attendance officer from the local authority. School have automatically referred us to them. No communication between school and us, the parents about concerns they had at all. No issues raised at all.

Conversation on phone with attendance officer was short as the woman understood straight away and suggested I speak to the school.

I'm upset tonight. I feel like this is a tough balance to get right. She 5, doing well academically as reported by the teacher. So not behind in any way.

I wish she didn't get poorly so often. It's so hard. And now this. If she's sick, she's sick!

I'm meeting with the teacher tomorrow anyway as a standard parent teacher appointment that they do. I'll be raising the issue and asking for a longer meeting to discuss what they feel us the issue.

AIBU to feel upset that the school didn't discuss any concerns? Is this just what schools do?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

108 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
42%
You are NOT being unreasonable
58%
Givenuptotally · 10/10/2022 20:38

Schools have a duty of care. A child who is frequently absent will raise alarm bells. Imagine a child that is frequently absent waiting for bruising to disappear, for example. Just engage with the attendance officer, as you have done, and all should be well. If you consult with a medical professional at any point, get an appointment card as evidence as well.

Citycat1 · 10/10/2022 20:40

@Givenuptotally ah I see.... yeah 1 day a week might look odd. That's calmed me down a bit. Will discuss with the teacher.

OP posts:
AloysiusBear · 10/10/2022 20:43

Its quite unusual for children to be so unwell as to be missing more than a couple of days of school. Covid is usually mild in young children. As a pp said, they have a duty of care to watch out for unusual patterns of absence.

I notice every single year that the children with working parents miss far less school due to illness.

KrisAkabusi · 10/10/2022 20:44

You were told it was an automatic referral. The school didn't discuss concerns with you because there are no concerns, as confirmed by the attendance officer. So yes, you're being a bit unreasonable, but on the bright side, you don't really have anything to worry about.

Singleandproud · 10/10/2022 20:46

The problem is likely to be that you've already dipped below their target % because she hasn't been at school long this year to accrue a higher percentage so any time off hits it hard. I've had to make phone calls home to parents because their children have had 2 days off (with obvious and authorised absences) because they dipped under our target 86%, my own DD was off the following week for a couple of days with the same virus.

Last year we got a visit from the school attendance officer, DD had two lots of Covid (with supporting evidence) and one bout of D&V, I wasn't happy.

Schools have massive pressure on them to improve attendance.

Magnanimouse · 10/10/2022 20:47

Primary headteacher. I only wish our LA had attendance officers to follow up the parents who've missed weeks and weeks of absence across the year!

Yes, a day a week does look odd. I'm surprised it's gone straight to attendance officer though. Was DD's overall attendance during Reception low (when they can't enforce) and they are making the point that Y1 needs to be different?

Also - the class teacher probably won't even know about the referral - you need to talk to the office or home-school link worker, or whoever made the referral.

ArnoldBee · 10/10/2022 20:50

Schools have been ordered by the government to clamp down on attendance issues now we are living with covid. They had no choice, it's not a issue to discuss with the teacher as its the head's team that deals with it. Don't worry about it and just file it away under admin.

TeachesOfPeaches · 10/10/2022 20:50

At my 6 year olds new school, we get reported to the attendance officer if we don't ring in by 9am if the child is sick or late Confused

OnlyFoolsnMothers · 10/10/2022 20:50

Being 4 years old at the time, we didn't pay much attention to the attendance priority seriously?- sickness, yes absolutely but you straight off the bat showed your relaxed attitude to the idea of attending school. Once your child in enrolled, 4 or not, they have to attend. Very odd to have a day a week off- if ill a child may have a whole week off but not a day a week for 5 wks.

Essexgirlupnorth · 10/10/2022 20:52

Schools seems to be under massive pressure on attendance at the moment. We have had so many message from school and have seen lots of parents tweeting about it.
I does sound excessive when there has been a genuine reason for each absence. Hope your daughter is feeling better soon.

TwitTw00 · 10/10/2022 20:55

As someone mentioned above, the class teacher will have nothing to do with this. Speak to the office to find who you need to meet with - probably the family support officer if there is one, the head if not. Please don't expect the class teacher to discuss this with you as it will be completely out of their hands.

Pinkishpurple · 10/10/2022 20:58

This is just standard safeguarding

Citycat1 · 10/10/2022 20:58

Ah, I didn't know it wouldn't have been the teacher. The teaching staff are lovely so that's why I was surprised they didn't talk to us as they always seem so willing to work with the parents.

I'm getting the 1 day off thing here. We've been trying so hard to get her in even when I am thinking she's not feeling well. Will discuss with the office as advised. Thank you.

OP posts:
Citycat1 · 10/10/2022 20:59

If its standard safeguarding then I'm now actually pleased they are do hot on it.

OP posts:
Blueblell · 10/10/2022 21:09

Some of it will be due to percentage. If you are off on the second day of term then your attendance would be 50% some schools use software to check attendance and I imagine there is an automatic flagging when it dips below 90 for example.

cadburyegg · 10/10/2022 21:15

It's the random days that will have flagged it - if child A has missed 5 days since the start of term all in one go, so a whole week due to a stomach bug for example, that doesn't raise alarm bells. But child B who has missed the same amount of days but not at the same time is more likely to be flagged as a concern. A lot of employers use a similar system (although not for safeguarding reasons ofc)

BatteryPoweredMammy · 10/10/2022 21:22

They’re absolutely bonkers about attendance in English schools. Honestly, I wouldn’t give it another thought.

Smartiepants79 · 10/10/2022 21:29

They’ve only been back at school for 5 weeks and she’s already had 4 weeks where she’s missed a day and is now off again due to covid? Did she have more time off when you had the sickness bug?? If so that’s over a weeks worth of absence in one half term. That’s high levels of absence.
School are doing their job. Don’t go in being all stroppy about it. This kind of absence would be raising some concerns in my school too.

Puffalicious · 10/10/2022 21:49

OnlyFoolsnMothers · 10/10/2022 20:50

Being 4 years old at the time, we didn't pay much attention to the attendance priority seriously?- sickness, yes absolutely but you straight off the bat showed your relaxed attitude to the idea of attending school. Once your child in enrolled, 4 or not, they have to attend. Very odd to have a day a week off- if ill a child may have a whole week off but not a day a week for 5 wks.

This. A day off a week is strange.

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