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Warning letter regarding attendance.

45 replies

MamaMaiasaura · 31/01/2007 00:32

I got a warning letter from my ds's school today and was really upset by it.

DS was had 9 days off school since christmnas, we thought he had tonisillitis and he had anti-biotics and I sent him back to school as the course was ending. HE wasnt right and struggled at school for a few days (kept getting sent to office as poorl;y but no bugger told me). Ending up being off again with same thing, more anti-b - no good and dr reckons it was nasty virus. HE has also had about 5-7 days off since september - tonsils/throat again. Each time dr has seen him

School have sent me a letter warning me his attendance is 83% this half term and that EWO has been informed and will be monitoring situation. I have only ever kept ds off school for illness (although have requested some days off in the coming week for family reasons.. first time ever - been ok'd).

I feel completely taken aback that I have been given a warning of getting apenalty notice served. Spoke to Dr and he will speak to school if need be. Have written letter to head teacher.

Has anyone else had this?

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MamaMaiasaura · 31/01/2007 00:33

he is 6 btw so not secondary school pressures

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twinsetandpearls · 31/01/2007 00:38

I had a friend who had a similar letter when her bo missed three days, the school are just doing their job and I woudl not worry to much, at6 it will not have long lasting repurcussions. Perhaps could ahve been handled with more sensitivity,

amicissima · 31/01/2007 09:41

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

percypig · 31/01/2007 09:50

I understand why this would have been worrying and annoying, but it is quite normal as far as I know. In our school any child with attendance under 85% is automatically monitored and parents contacted. This is partly to ensure children's needs educational needs are met, but also because of governement targets for attendance.

Obviously I don't know how ill your child was, but being on antibiotics shouldn't prevent them from going to school. Also, I realise your son is only in primary school, but I have quite a few kids in secondary school whose poor attendance goes back to primary school - patterns/habits seem to form easily.

Although the EWO usually works with kids who have long term absence (because of truancy, school refusal or family issues) they can also help parents whose children have ongoing illness - it's not all sinister!

throckenholt · 31/01/2007 09:55

I would just accept they are following procedures - as long as you and they know he has genuinely been ill there is nothing to worry about.

MamaMaiasaura · 31/01/2007 10:23

I gave in letter I typed last night. Feel less stresed tbh as I know he was genuinely unwell and the gp also concurred as each time ds was poorly enough to be off school he was seen by the doctor.

Just seems ridiculous that at 6 years old they are being so heavy handed. The wording in the letter really miffed me with comments such as 'we expect every child to achieve 100% attendence".. hmm they are hoping for a bit much imo as most kids in infants catch lots of bugs as they build up their immunity.

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lemonaid · 31/01/2007 10:30

Yes, "we expect every child to achieve 100% attendence" is just loopy. Effectively they are saying "we do not expect any child to be ill ever", which is plainly bonkers.

juuule · 31/01/2007 11:05

Reminds me of when my ds broke his leg and school wouldn't allow him in on crutches (due to insurance). His report said he should try harder to improve his attendance Crazy.
"Expect 100% attendance"!! Great if you're never ill. Not very realistic though is it. Or are they expected to go into school unless they are dead.

RosaLuxembourg · 31/01/2007 11:09

I have DD1 off home today with a nasty bug. She was in tears last night because being off school today means she won't get her 100% attendence certificate at the end of term. I understand why the school does these certificates but they do not seem to understand that most children would prefer to go to school than stay at home, and regard not getting the certificate as a sort of punishment for being ill.

juuule · 31/01/2007 11:10

I don't agree with those certificates, precisely for that reason.

Saggarmakersbottomknocker · 31/01/2007 11:22

It's policy in most schools to monitor attendance under 85%. The letter will be a standard and is sent to everyone in that category. If the abscences are due to genuine illness then you honestly have nothing to worry about awen. (my dd had 75% attendance last year due to illness).

The issue is with serial non-attenders and they can't be fined if they haven't had the warning letters. We also write to parents who are consistently late.

As an aside schools get a bit fed up of parents who don't ring in when their kids are sick. It's a PITA ringing round everyday. Keep the school secretary sweet and let her know if your children are off sick.

theflumpsmum · 31/01/2007 11:42

I've also had one of these letters this school year.My Dd(6) has had a few medical problems since September and I'd notified her school of the medical problems and that her attendance may be down until she'd been for her referral at the hospital .
I spoke to her teacher,who also happens to be deputy head who assured me that it wouldn't be a problem and that she would put it her on her records.She forgot!!!! so when the ewo officer came into study the registers we ended up with a letter.
I had a meeting with ewo,who was very nice and helpful.
My Gp also is happy to contact the school regarding health matters.
I actually spoke to her headmistress about this and all I got was she was worried about my Dd's SAT results,and that local education authorities are getting it in the neck from the government about attendence.
At 6 years old you would think their health is more important than a test,league tables or government targets ,but then again maybe I'm wrong.....

MamaMaiasaura · 31/01/2007 14:51

theflumpsmum- sorry you had a similar experience. It beggars belief the amount of pressure being piled on the little ones.

Our school do a class attendence award so if you are unlucky to be unwell your whole class loses out.. no pressure really

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Bozza · 31/01/2007 14:54

Ah yes DS had a hospital appt on Monday morning. I informed his class teacher, but she does not teach on Mondays, so DH had the supply teacher ringing up.

lou33 · 31/01/2007 15:04

i've had this too, with 2 of mine over the last couple of years

firstly with ds1, who when he was about 6 seemed to come down with everything one after another

his school, imo opinion used the wrong approach and went in a bit heavy handed, the head "warned" my then h in the playground that she would take action if his attendance didnt improve, and the ewo sent me a letter saying similar

my reaction to that was, if it got to that ridiculous point at 6 yrs old i would take him out of school completely

his attendance improved when he stopped catching everything

before xmas i had a statement review for ds2, who coincidentally is almost 6 now. he goes to a differnt school than ds1 attended, and the approach couldnt be any more polarised

during the review, the head casually mentioned they were slightly concerned about his attendance, we had a brief conversation about how he had been ill with various things on and off for a few weeks, and i joked that there is no way i would willingly keep him off school having 4 kids, i need them to attend to give me a break

that was it end of discussion, and his attendance is once again as it should be now he has managed to stay healthy (apart from last week when he was sent home with an ear infection)

Weatherwax · 31/01/2007 15:07

This is another broad brush approach which does not do what it is supposed to. If our children are ill they should not be punnished for not attending by not getting a "certificate" If they go in to school ill then they are transfering the bug to all the school and general community. What needs looking into is real truancy. What parents of really sick children need is help not hastle due to "governement targets!.

MamaMaiasaura · 01/02/2007 00:14

totally agree weatherwax

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theflumpsmum · 01/02/2007 11:19

exactly weatherwax...
they bring in rules and regulations ie if your child has sickness or diahorrea,they must not attend school for 48 hours after last attack of vomiting etc ...I know of times when both my dd and her friends have been sick or had one upset tummy episode and then been fine,but still not allowed in school.
My Dd's school has been constantly mucking things up with regards to her medical problems and absences,after I received the letter from the EWO ,I spoke to Dd's headmistress,(who may I say was desperately trying to cover her deputy's backside for the error in the first place),and said they'd have the medical situation put on my daughters file.I gave the school nurse permission to talk to my Gp about it all and when I went down to EWO meeting 3 weeks later,the school had done diddly squat and STILL hadn't made a note on her file,even the EWO was shocked.
My Dd is off at the moment with a nasty chest and throat infection,I notified the school yesterday and took her to the doctor's but as for getting a certificate ,they can swing for it,it would cost me £20 and in my opinion this whole mess is their fault to begin with.They have permission to speak to my Gp if they want proof it's down to them to get it.

I agree with Lou33,its a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on a 6 year old and will have no qualms about home edding if this sort of pressure on them so young continues.

drosophila · 01/02/2007 11:33

Same here. I was furious. I contacted the EWO and ranted and raved at her. she was pompous and I was equally pompous. Working for the Gov means I can adopt a pompous approach too which can be handy.

I tried to speak to the school deputy head who had written the letter. Thing is my old job was to do with monitoring absence at work and reducing it so I know a bit about it. My point is if the attendance falls below x% speak to the teacher and if it is believed to be genuine then let it lie. The EWO tried to argue that they could perhaps help by my speaking to the school nurse 'if I was willing? (her tone was suggesting I was so unreasonable I wouldn't) .

  • Do you think she know more than the specialist consultant DS is under for his asthma management (15 - love to me).
  • 'Don't take it personally' she said. 'The letter is written to me personally so I will take it personally' (30 -love to me).

-'We are trying to engage with the parent' she said. 'Well don't send them accusatory offensive letter then? I said (40 - love to me).

I got a written apology from the school (game set and match to me)!!!!!!
MummyPenguin · 01/02/2007 11:40

Yet another example of our nanny state and political correctness gone mad. This is ridiculous for a child of 6. They're often ill at that age.

OrmIrian · 01/02/2007 12:39

But don't you think that the school have a duty to ensure that their pupils attend as near as humanly possibly 100% of the time. OK, so you got a letter, but as long as you know your child had a genuine reason to be off school why does it matter? There are parents out there who let their kids take time off school for no good reason at all. And there are parents who let their kids take time off school for perfectly good reasons, ie they are ill, but don't inform the school. We all know of them. Those are the people that the school is targetting - and surely they should be doing that? Yes, it's a 'broad brush' but if that saves time, admin and money, isn't that a good thing.

OrmIrian · 01/02/2007 12:43

BTW, my son had a certificate last year for 98%-100% attendance. No it's nothing to be that proud of I suppose as he was lucky enough to stay healthy, but as he's not exactly an academic high-flyer I was pleased that he had something to show for it. It might have an impact on those parents who can't be bothered.

lou33 · 01/02/2007 13:19

i've got 4 kids and believe me they only stay off for a good reason, or they drive me crazy!

my oldest one has the same attendance level as her peers, and is under consideration for being made a prefect next year, which i dubt they would do if she had poor attendance, and dd2 got a 100% attendance certificate for last term

so you can see that in my case, my boys have had genuine reasons to be off, or else i'd keep them all home if i just didnt care

i did keep them all off once, when exh and i split, as they were just too upset to go to school, and i felt it better for them to be with me for a couple of days

ds1's head said to me that he had to get over it at some point so she didnt understand why he couldnt come in!

the rest of the schools were v understanding btw.

i also remember when we lived elsewhere, and dd1 had shingles, so was off school for a while, then was picking all sorts of bugs up for a while after and off school at the age of 5, the head didnt believe me

dd1 had whooping cough and missed a good few months of school as she was so poorly, again at the age of 6 ish, and the school threatened to take me to court if i didnt send her in, also saying i had been aggressive in my attitude

they didnt say that i had sent her in with a letter explaining what she had to do at what times wrt physio and needing inhalers and what to do in an emergency, but they refused to let her have inhalers in her classroom, instead said if she was unable to breathe she had to leave her satellite class, walk round to the front of the school , into reception, ask the secretary for her inhaler and wait while she retrieved it

then they wonder why i kept her off until she was more improved

Smithagain · 01/02/2007 14:22

I had it at the beginning of this term. We had had a week off for a family wedding which was midweek, about 400 miles away. All OK'ed in advance. Also 3.5 days off sick. DD1 is four, so not even compulsory school age yet.

I wrote to the head expressing my view that it was a very heavy handed approach. Had a pleasant enough conversation with her afterwards where she reassured me that it wasn't really targetted at those who had genuine reason for being off. But that they will continue to use them, because it has paid dividends with families who take the mickey with days off.

Still think the system sucks, but I think we're stuck with it.

drosophila · 01/02/2007 14:33

Orm when I am insulted I react simple as that. The approach is heavy handed and the letter implies that you are taking your child off for no good reason. It questions your judgement and treats you like a child. I want to be treated with a little respect.

My DP worked for a company that had a similarly mindless approach to monitoring sick absence and they sent one of their 'cause for concern' letters to an employee who was dieing of cancer. Inappropriate I would say. It would save money if letters were only sent to those that the teacher thought there was a real issue with.

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