My feed

to access all these features

Join our Primary Education forum to discuss starting school and helping your child get the most out of it.

Primary education

Attendance rates - am I being unreasonable? (long)

17 replies

Smithagain · 07/01/2007 15:11

DD1 is in Reception - she is not yet 4.5. On Friday, I received the following letter in the post, from the school:

"We have reviewed 's attendance and would like to inform you that because 's attendance for the last term was 82%, they have been placed in the RED attendance group. In view of this I will shortly be contacting you to discuss *'s attendance and this may involve the Education Welfare Service"

The letter is printed on bright red paper. I have to sign something to say I've had it.

The background is that DD1 had one week off school last term, because DH's brother got married. The wedding was midweek and was 400 miles away, so we took the whole week off to make the travelling bearable. I discussed the wedding with the Head and with DD1's class teacher before she even started school and they agreed that it was reasonable for her to have the time off. I applied in advance for the days off and they agreed.

She has also had 3.5 days off sick, which doesn't seem unreasonable for me. One reason the rate is so low is because she was in the final intake of the term, so she only actually started school three weeks after the beginning of term.

I do appreciate the need for regular attendance, but we bent over backwards to discuss the wedding arrangements with the school and they seemed quite happy. I do not intend to take holidays in term time and told them so when we applied for time off.

I feel that the letter is very heavy handed and I have drafted a letter to the school to say so. There is no explanation what the RED group is, but I feel like DD1 has been labelled as a problem child through no fault of her own.

The question is - is this normal school stuff? Should I just sign the slip and keep my head down, or should I express my view that their whole approach is unnecessarily intimidating?

OP posts:
Saturn74 · 07/01/2007 15:15

DS2 had two half days off per week for two years to go to the Dyslexia Institute, and nobody made a murmur.
Not the school.
Not the LEA.
But that's another story!

This does seem very heavy handed, and I would be furious.

cazzybabs · 07/01/2007 15:15

I think it is policy - govement rather than the indivual school.

NAB3 · 07/01/2007 15:16

I know when my husband and I visited our sons school I asked about being late. I was pregnant at the time and the baby was going to be 9 weeks in the Sept. I was told it wasn't acceptable to be late and a welfare officer would visit if we were late too much. I understand that kids have to be there on time but I do think there could be a bit of flexibility. In your case it sounds very unfair. Her % will be down as she hasn't been at school as long as the children who started at the beginning. I would refuse to sign anything and go in to school to discuss it further, reminding them they agreed the time off and your DD started later than other children. BTW My son had more than 3.5 days off in his Reception year through illness.

Freckle · 07/01/2007 15:21

Sounds like a load of bllocks to me. She's not even of the age where she has* to be in full-time education - I believe the law is still that a child has to start in the term following their 5th birthday.

If the school authorised a week's holiday for the wedding, the only "unauthorised" absence she's had is 3.5 days off sick.

I would certainly write to the head in fairly strong terms. The first 3 weeks of term she was absent because of the school's policy regarding reception intake. The week's holiday was authorised by the school. The 3.5 days sick was unavoidable. Are they seriously writing because of 3.5 days sickness?

wordgirl · 07/01/2007 15:25

Well considering she doesn't even have to be at school yet I'd say the school are being heavy handed to say the least. But apart from that, how can they count they days before she started as part of her non-attendance? It doesn't sound normal to me and I think you're right to be questioning it.

Smithagain · 07/01/2007 15:31

Just to be clear - I don't think they have counted the first two weeks of term as absence - but because she started later, every absent day is a higher percentage of the term than for those who started first. Does that make any sense?

OP posts:
Podmog · 07/01/2007 15:33

Message withdrawn

Radley · 07/01/2007 15:37

Also smithagain, days off ill are only classed as unauthorised if you haven't informed the school that she is ill. If you have informed them, then that classes as authorised, though it will still go on her attended record.

pianist · 07/01/2007 15:38

This would make my blood boil too!

However, IME it's better to keep your head down than make a fuss at school if possible. You don't want to be seen as a trouble-maker. Try to let it go - you can go for a 100% attendance next year and it will all be forgotten!

ProfessorGrammaticus · 07/01/2007 16:44

I agree with pianist - even though I think the school has been heavy-handed. Choose your battles wisely!

bogwobbit · 07/01/2007 17:00

When my dd was in her first term at secondary school, she was off for a couple of days with a bad headache and we got a letter from the school stating that her attendance had dropped below the 96% (or whatever it was, can't remember) that was deeped acceptable. This was despite me telephone the school to explain why she was off and then sending a note after she returned. The letter also had veiled threats about possible legal action if the situation didn't improve!!
I phoned up her Head of Year and explained how annoyed I was to get a letter like this and that I felt it undermined any relationship and co-operation between parent and child to get a threatening letter like this - the way it was written actually was quite nasty and threatening.
He apologised and said that the schools were all required to send out letters like this by the local authority who in turn were getting it in the neck if they failed to meet targets on attendance set by national government. He said that they hated doing it in cases where the pupil had a genuine reason for absence and had only been off on a few occasions.

sinclair · 07/01/2007 17:12

I would have a quiet word with the head to clear up what sounds like a misunderstanding. Apart from anything else you want to know what the 'acceptable' level of absence is deemed to be at your particular school - many schools (ours included) no longer authorise family holidays in term time for example.

TheWillowTree · 07/01/2007 21:26

Personally I would rip it up and forget about it (but not sign to say you have had it). Your dd does even not have to be at school yet so you have every right to take her out whenever it suits her and you.

Schools take too much on themsleves - parents are responsible for their child's education and even if they choose to delegate it to schools there should be a proper partnership.

Smithagain · 07/01/2007 21:36

For better or for worse, I've written the letter. I've toned down the original version a bit, but I decided that I did want to record my dissatisfaction with the way they are labelling us.

I agree that you should pick your battles - but I'm picking this one LOL!

On the serious side, I know that there are genuine problems with attendance in certain quarters of the school. They are right to be on top of the issue, but I really don't want to be lumped together with the families who don't bother getting out of bed in order to make sure their kids arrive at school on time. I am not exaggerating.

At least I know that my letter will appear on her records alongside this terms statistics, with my explanation of the reasons for her absences.

Will wait to see if they respond.

OP posts:
MorocconOil · 09/01/2007 19:59

We had a letter at the end of last term stating that we needed to improve on ds1 93% attendance. He is in Year 2. Ds2 had the same 2 days off but we had no letter and I assumed it was because he is in Reception and there is no legal requirement for him to attend school. Several other children I know of had similiar letters. It was annoying, as our school includes a large number of children who go on extended holidays to Pakistan and children disappear for months on end then reappear. I think it is government policy, rather than individual schools to send out such letters. There isn't really that much they can do ie make you lose the place. In our LEA this can only happen if a child is away for 2 months and even the school have to send a letter giving notice of this after the 2 months is up. It is not worth the risk of falling out with the head about. They are probably annoyed about the extra admin it's caused them.

pinkbubble · 09/01/2007 20:12

I actually work in a primary school and I too received one of these so called letters,I was mortified as school new why my child had been off. Unfortunately there is a percentage that cant be bothered to send their children in and really and truly its them they should be targeting. All I can say is dont worry these letters are not meant to be personal you may find that every so many weeks they send out a batch of them, the schools do have to keep a tight rein on attendances, imo its the wrong ones (ie us) that do the worrying

SSShakeTheChi · 09/01/2007 20:19

since starting school end of August, dd has been off sick 10 days already. Wouldn't like to guess what the yearly attendance rate will work out as.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.