School Attendance Prizes: Are They Hazardous to Our Children’s Health?

I want to start this post off by saying that I have no idea whether Boo’s school hands out prizes for 100% attendance – now that may be that due to her absences we’ve never been privy to the conversation – I don’t know; however the notion of rewarding primary school children for 100% attendance is a topic I’m hearing more and more.

school-attendance-awards

If you follow me on social media, you will know that Boo was diagnosed with a nasty case of Scarlet Fever a few months ago – thankfully she made a full recovery and returned to school the following week. That’s three days of school absence to add to her apparent ‘unacceptable’ levels of attendance.

I was in two minds as to whether to write this… Boo was diagnosed with a nasty case of Scarlet Fever late last night and we're currently knee deep in yet more antibiotics, PoxClin, Piriton and hugs. Now I'm sure lots of you will be thinking 'wow she's ill again' and yes trust me it seems like everything going around Boo will contract with knobs on but I really don't think people understand just how dangerous it is for parents not to follow the confinement period. Now I get that parents are worried about missing a day of work and/or trying to find emergency childcare and also receiving one of the attendance letters from school but when you send your child back to school a day early or worse don't tell them about a rash, virus etc you're putting children like Boo at very real risk. So next time you roll your eyes when the thermometer reads 38.something take a moment to stop and think how your selfish actions could have devastating consequences. We all struggle to juggle but it's children like Boo who are most at risk when parents fail to understand that many childhood illnesses are only mild because of years of careful management within the community… #boothebrave

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To imagine that Boo has any say in whether she attends school is utterly ludicrous and if schools are under pressure from the LEAs to improve the magic number of attendance to achieve the elixir that is ‘outstanding’ from OFSTED perhaps they should instead hand out bottles of Prosecco to parents instead of certificates and prizes to children; or is the guilt trip by proxy an intentional tactic by school senior management?

If we’re to continue with the idea that children respond to be rewarded for something that is out of their control then let’s start rewarding those that haven’t had head lice or chickenpox. We also need to explore the notion that parents will send children in when they have notifiable diseases just to still be int he running for attendance awards. Boo and many other children with lowered immunity are at risk of becoming really ill by such behaviour.

School policies are very often divisive but when it comes to attendance surely health trumps awards; and serve no purpose rather than to create divisions between children when they should be focusing on creating friendships and having fun.

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6 Comments

  1. June 27, 2017 / 21:00

    I agree with you and have read similar from the parents of other children with health problems that can make catching something a lot more serious. I hope that the message gets home to the schools and they reconsider.
    Nat.x
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  2. June 28, 2017 / 22:00

    I am pretty sure our primary school doesn’t award for 100% attendance, it they are quite hot on when a child has a virus or infection that is infectious. It is unfair in others, parents and childs, if parents feel they need to get their child back in school just to get a good attendance record,

  3. June 29, 2017 / 06:17

    Yes, I’m with you. It is crazy. A few years back one of my girls broke her arm and we had to go to the fracture clinic a number of times. The appointments were always at 9.10am so she couldn’t be there for registration. I think she ended up missing 6 registrations in the end and we got an amber warning. What did they want me to do differently? Mich x
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  4. June 30, 2017 / 08:51

    I think such things as attendance certificates given out at the end of term in assembly’s can make children who have been off school feel left out. When a child is poorly they should be kept off. It’s like the school punishes the children for being poorly.
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  5. June 30, 2017 / 20:02

    Poor Boo, thats a nasty virus :(. I heard that one school hands out ice creams to children at the end of the year with 100% attendance, those who have not achieved it don’t get one. I can only imagine the tears… I understand the implications of attendance records, but I don’t agree with rewarding, instead schools should do what they can to help parents like putting inset days at the end of holidays etc to help keep the cost down of travelling during the holiday period. If these types of absences are less then they will not be so affected by genuine sickness. Its always got to be whats right for the child!! Regardless of stats xx
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  6. July 1, 2017 / 07:50

    I 100% agree and am going to be talking to school governors about it. If they are going to award for attendance then they have to discount days that children are off sick. To penalise children for being ill seems ludicrous to me, especially as we are not in fact allowed to send them to school when they’re not well…..

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