To think that attendance recording at school is unfair

(139 Posts)
ICompletelyKnowAboutGuineaPigs Tue 26-Mar-13 11:24:35

So not actually attendance recording per se. I understand why schools monitor attendance and why this is important.

But at my DS's (aged 6) primary school they reward attendance (100%) at the end of every term with a special assembly, a certificate and extra 'golden time' in the afternoon. Now DS has not missed a full day of school or been late this term BUT he has had some appointments during school time. He is currently being assessed by the ASD team and they requested assessment by Speech and Language therapy and Occupational Therapy. The school know about this and the services have liaised with the school to keep them updated. No complaints so far, the school have been great.

The appointments are made by the services and so on 2-3 occasions he has had to miss an hour or two of school - but I always pick him up as late as possible and drop him off afterwards. He hasn't been awarded his attendance certificate because of these occasions. AIBU to think this is a bit unfair? I can't decide if it is discriminatory and whether I should take it further or whether the school are being perfectly reasonable because he hasn't been IN school 100% of the time (my friend's DD, however, has received her certificate despite leaving school early due to illness so I'm not sure what their exact criteria are).

I have spoken to the school SENCO/attendance monitor and he actually agrees with me but says he has to work within the guidelines. Should I challenge the guidelines or just it go?

cornflakegirl Tue 26-Mar-13 13:06:23

Goldmandra - I largely agree with you - it is a very blunt instrument. I think the problem is that it's really hard to come up with something better that isn't a nightmare to administer. And attendance is important, and a major focus for Ofsted, so schools need to be focusing on it and be seen to be focusing on it.

If anyone has suggestions for better ways (that don't involve infinite tweaks to account for myriad special circumstances) I would be really interested in hearing them.

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 13:06:45

What about awards for sports? Would they also be unfair and discriminatory against dc who can't take part for medical reasons?

Children achieve awards for sports because they have made an effort. It is recognising the child's own achievement. Schools are expected to offer all children opportunities to achieve in physical activities and should reward effort as well as talent. If all sports awards always went exclusively to the boys who happened to be good at football that would be unfair too.

ppeatfruit Tue 26-Mar-13 13:07:20

cornflakegirl And what punishment do the parents who send their DCs to school when ill get?

I can understand the connection between school absences and results in later years and a tentative/anecdotal relation between not going to school and social family problems, but penalising a bunch of 5 yo really isn't the way to go.

I would raise this with the head/ attendance officer

SunflowersSmile Tue 26-Mar-13 13:10:42

No prizes if time off for hospital appointment or music exam...
I have known children hide being sick so that they can attend school/ try and break 48 hr after sick bug rule.
A very blunt instrument indeed...

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 13:11:16

And attendance is important, and a major focus for Ofsted, so schools need to be focusing on it and be seen to be focusing on it.

It's not very ethical to apply a blunt instrument, about which you have no idea of the success, which causes upset to children who are ill or have disabilities, just in order to be seen to be doing something.

It would be better to write to parents individually about their children's attendance figures. Those who will ignore the concerns expressed int he letters would no doubt ignore the certificates too.

This policy most certainly does more harm than good.

ppeatfruit Tue 26-Mar-13 13:13:37

Its a very tentative connection indeed itsjusta after all Leonardo Da Vinci did not attend school ever!!

Blu Tue 26-Mar-13 13:15:32

dancergirl - in support of the whole ppint of attendance certificates, there may well be disabled kids and / or their parents who have completely unrelated issues with attendance and need the encouragement of an attendance certificate to focus thier attitude to absence. All incentive disappears if a child who needs a series of hospital appointments every time they need a new pair of shoes (like my DS) can never, ever, get an attendacne certificate throughout thier whole school career. It's just another lost cause.

Meanwhile many disabled kids will be putting their all into their attendacne, struggling to school in pain, determined not to take time off after extreme surgery (like my DS), only to clap while some kid who just happens to have been lucky enough not to catch Noro Virus sweeps up a certificate and prize.

Make no big deal? Why would YOU wish to make a big deal of a school making reasonable adjustment in discounting absences which are attributable to a permanent disability or condition?

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 13:20:56

Well yes I suppose if it's logistically possible for a school or record separate attendance records, then I agree that's what should be done.

If parents can't be bothered to get their kids to school then what makes them think a stupid certificate is suddenly going to make them change???

Medical appointments r not only vital for many children but like gold dust given many parents have probably waited weeks or months for them.

A child loosing out as a result is bloody unfair. You can't punish people for being ill or needing on going assessments etc.

Blu Tue 26-Mar-13 13:23:27

As it happens, I think attendance awards are stupid anyway, but if they must have them they should be used fairly. I agree, attendance concerns should be dealt with directly, and with specific relevance to the reasons / families / children concerned. IME Attendance Awards just cause the pushy comeptitive mothers to send their child to school with swine flu rather than risk losing the whole-year-attendace gold certificate angry

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 13:23:33

Would you say there is a difference in 'unfairness' between the long term sick child and the child who misses a few days due to routine illness?

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 13:25:36

That's a very short sighted view wheresmy. You can but try to encourage them. Or should we not bother at all about those parents and write them off as 'cant be bothered'?

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 13:27:27

Would you say there is a difference in 'unfairness' between the long term sick child and the child who misses a few days due to routine illness?

Yes. It is unfair on both but the child who has only been sick for a few days has the opportunity to be rewarded in other terms. The child who has a disability or chronic illness has to sit there every term or half term and applaud all those who are lucky enough to be healthy and developing normally.

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 13:28:19

A child isn't 'losing out' or being 'penalised'. But a child may be rewarded for choosing to go to school rather than skive off. If it encourages just one child, then surely that's a good thing?

Sirzy Tue 26-Mar-13 13:30:52

I think it would be much better to have some form of personalised attendance target for children with ongoing medical conditions, and to exclude any hospital appointments from the scheme.

My DS isn't at school yet but his asthma means that it is highly unlikely he will ever get an attendance award but thats out of his and my control so it would be wrong to punish him for it.

Goldmandra Tue 26-Mar-13 13:31:07

If it encourages just one child, then surely that's a good thing?

No. The cost to other children is too high.

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 13:32:36

But goldmandra as you have said above, children are rewarded for effort so why do you think that a long term sick child won't have the opportunity to be rewarded for other things? Even if a child's attendance is only 50% due to medical conditions, there are still many, many things in terms of their efforts AND achievements at school that can be rewarded.

I have to say though, certificates for turning up is a ridiculous idea anyway. It's a legal requirement it shouldn't need rewarding surely don't get me started on how many lunch bags ruined by stupid stickers given as rewards for eating lunch

Surely allowing parents some discression to keep their child home if ill, long enough to actually properly recover rather than sending them
In looming and feeling like crap and passing it on is a better idea. Yes some will abuse that but that's what EWO are for. They will investigate if school have any concerns.

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 13:34:18

I don't think that would work either sirzy. Suppose their condition took a turn for the worse and they didn't meet their target?

landofsoapandglory Tue 26-Mar-13 13:34:19

Dancergirl, a child with a disability or long term illness is not on a level playing field with one that doesn't to begin with, so the school, by law, has to make reasonable adjustments to put them all on the same playing field - hence why a child with a disability, long term illness, or special need should have 2 sets of attendance records.

When the certificates and rewards are given out, any absence directly concerned with the disability, long term illness or SN should not be counted, only those that would affect any other child in the school should be.

That is what the Equalities and Human Rights Comission told me.

dancergirl if parents can't be bothered then they need dealing with. What in earth makes you think such a parent would honestly take any notice of a certificate shoved in their child's bag??
No ones writing off a child by deciding not to bother with certificates that upset all the other children.

And I'm
Sure there r other ways to encourage a child to go to school if the reason they are off is because they can't face going. For instance they could be given an important role- fetching register or being a book monitor or a group leader etc

Sirzy Tue 26-Mar-13 13:37:23

I would rather see them not given at all Dancer but if schools insist on doing in then they need to do something for the children who are never going to be well enough for 100% to be possible. Yes their attendance may fall below whatever target they are given but at least they would stand some chance of meeting that target or simply discount anything to do with that illness.

And why would parents need encouragement to send children to school???? You seriously suggesting they r to be treated like children and rewarded for doing their legally bound duty???
They r adults do they get a certificate for turning up to work ? No! Their reward is not getting fired for doing their job.

Dancergirl Tue 26-Mar-13 13:41:12

The CHILD might be pleased to get an attendance certificate and ENCOURAGE the parent to help him or her keep up good attendance.

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