Saturday, 19 July 2014

Is It Just Me: Who Thinks School Attendance Nazi's Have Gone too Far?

School is important, that's a fact, and of course, missing days is a cause for concern. 

These days, all schools expect pupils to achieve a yearly average of 95% attendance. Such is the importance of this number, that new laws came into force last year to say that all absences must be worthy of the amount of time off from studies they cause.

However, what constitutes an authorised, and acceptable reason to be off school?

As usual, whereas many schools exercise sense and will allow pupils lee way for special circumstances, others are just taking the piss.

Take this story in the Mirror of 11 year old Maddie Stevens, who was banned from her schools end of year Leavers Dinner due to not having the prized 100% attendance (bearing in mind the government's 95% rule).

Why did Maddie miss out?  Did her parent's let her bunk off? Did they go on the much maligned and debated mid term holiday to cut costs?


She went to her Mother's funeral. In fact, Maddie had only that day off despite losing her Mum, as she wanted to be as normal as possible and get on with life. 

This isn't the first time a child or family have been demonised and held up as poor examples of parenting over a funeral or spending time with a dying loved one. In recent months stories have appeared in newspapers of parent's taken to court and given a criminal record and massive fines for taking time out for family who are dying or their funerals.

Yes, there needs to be less time off for frivolous reasons, but there also needs to be a line drawn under what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable absence.

The other issue is children like Littlest, who have lots of time off at different times of the year due to illness. We nearly incurred the wrath of the Education people in January. I had to justify why Littlest is absent a lot between October and April. To someone I had never met and who had seen Littlest on a list and had then decided to treat me like a criminal, demanding a meeting without even a nod to his illnesses at all.

Yes, I was angry, and frankly I felt like the school had let us all down as they have always been told and given letters from his consultants to prove what we say. 

Even now, a letter came home last week suggesting the school is now looking through everyone's attendance ad should they decide a fine and court date will be winging its way in due course. No doubt that will be in my letterbox soon as there seems to be no full guidelines regards situations such as Littlest's.

At the moment, we travel 28 miles twice a day to get to school and back, but that will cut no slack.

I say stick to kids whose parent's can't be bothered to get them up and out and who value an easy life over their kids future. And don't even get me started on the double standards of Teacher strikes or those who disappear on holiday themselves.

To my mind, in a time when school's are having their budgets cut, these "any excuse to fine is valid" attitude of some authorities makes school fines the education version of the speed camera. Where does this money go? Why is there no legislation so every school has the same rules?

Yes, education is the foundations of the rest of the child's life. But please, before you bring in sweeping change, work out who really needs the swift kick up the arse of a fine and leave those like Maddie alone.

1 comment:

  1. Theygrowsoquick20 July 2014 at 13:53

    I agree with you. Some of the stories i've seen are just ridiculous and unfair. X


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