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Education

Government cracking down on school non-attenders. What happens in practice.

(161 Posts)
M0nica Sat 10-Feb-24 21:48:47

A week or so ago there was a knock on DS &DDiL's house and when DDil answered there were 2 people on the door step who announced that they were from the school and were investigating why DGS was away from school so much - and could they see him.

DDiL was aghast. DGS was off sick. (I have just started a thread on the condition he has). His parents had been fulfilling every requirement of the school Sickness Policy. they rang in every day. They have in fact been in contact with the school over a long period about various health and other problems DGS has had. They could not think of any reason why they should be being chased up by what essentially are Attendance Officers.

These officials told them that they needed to send in a medical certificate signed by the GP whenever DGS was off for a week or more - which is in fact quite rare - But the school sickness policy didn't mention this requirement.

DDiL was really very upset. His older sister has just left the school for Sixth Form College, never having missed a day's schooling in 5 years, and DGS has a good attendance record, despite his recent absences. He is also an academic high flier, so he is not falling behind in his schoolwork in any way. She could not understand why they were being singled out for this treatment.

DDiL went online and her treatment seems par for the course. Also GPs are saying that they cannot cope with all the sicknotes this policy would require. DDiL had sent the school the paeditricians letter outlining DGS's problem and how it affected him, but they are still insisting on a weekly certificate from the GP. The paediatrician also wrote a really nice letter direct to DGS, and the school demanded to see that as well, but DDiL refused, saying it was a personal and private letter, not a medical document.

It strikes me as a completely counter productive way of getting children back to school anyway. Turning up on the doorstep like police officers and demanding to see the child, is enough to put any parents back up.

Personally I would start with a friendly phone call and try to make an appointment to see parent and child. I appreciate that somewhere down the line the authoritarian approach may be necessary, but that should not be the start point

biglouis Sat 10-Feb-24 21:59:32

There have been a few threads on this subject on Mumsnet where the child with a previously good attendance record had good to be absent (covid/funeral. etc)

B****y schools are getting to be like concentration camps.

I would probably have told them to go "forth and multiply" in no uncertain terms.

maddyone Sat 10-Feb-24 22:12:58

Totally agree Monica.

Joseann Sat 10-Feb-24 22:59:22

It is getting more and more like this M0nica. Schools have to cover themselves, and even a child with a dirty shirt or unbrushed hair is likely to have a little note on file. This then gets referred on if it happens regularly.
I think it is getting OTT.
Your DDiL must be feeling very upset to have been questioned over the welfare of her child when she has followed all the absenteeism rules.

annsixty Sat 10-Feb-24 23:08:04

If only all local authorities had this policy though I do agree this was totally heavy handed and unnecessary.
My local authority, Stockport, have no interest at all in attendance when told , blatantly lying, that children are being home schooled .
No checks whatsoever in 3 years.
I am picking up the pieces in this sad situation.

keepingquiet Sat 10-Feb-24 23:29:35

What a mess- education radically needs a overhaul. It is not providing for the needs of children anymore and is all about numbers and making the academy groups look good. What a complete shambles and what problems we are storing up for the future.

Callistemon21 Sat 10-Feb-24 23:29:47

When DGD was absent from school with Covid and then a stomach upset, her attendance was below expected levels one term at primary school.
There was a stern note on her report that Welfare Officers might be calling. The Head Teacher said not to worry about it, it was something on the computer-generated form, triggered by the % of absences even though the school had been informed.
No-one did call in fact.

Many children have been off with anxiety and are struggling since the lockdowns, too.

They are just covering themselves, I think.

Galaxy Sat 10-Feb-24 23:34:32

The figures for attendance are of serious concern. That's what is going on.

M0nica Sat 10-Feb-24 23:49:12

Galaxy

The figures for attendance are of serious concern. That's what is going on.

But that doesn't justify the way they arrived on DDiL's doorstep in full punitive order.

Coming down heavy handed right from the start only puts people's backs up and makes them less willing to co-operate if it is children out of school for no reasson.

To start the process with a friendly phone call, may in fact get some children back to school. As I said I do appreciate that further down the line things may have to get heavier, but starting with a phone call would save them time on pointless and useless visits like that to DS & DDiL, who were, anyway fully complient with all the rules and where they were already in contact with the school - and had been for some time about DS=DGS's health problems.

Joseann Sat 10-Feb-24 23:56:11

Surely the school knows which pupils are truanting and which are genuinely sick though? Especially as M0nica's DiL has supplied the pediatricians letter?

Callistemon21 Sun 11-Feb-24 00:08:53

Joseann

Surely the school knows which pupils are truanting and which are genuinely sick though? Especially as M0nica's DiL has supplied the pediatricians letter?

You'd think so.

I can understand arriving without notice if they suspected a child being kept at home was being abused but they obviously didn't do their homework in this case as they had the medical information from a Consultant .

GPs are busy enough anyway.

VioletSky Sun 11-Feb-24 00:32:18

Children have a right to an education.

Unfortunately there are parents who don't send their children to school enough for various reasons, some not good at all

In reality, this is just checking that children are at home for good reason and are safe

I think it would be hard to exempt some families, even those with long term illness problems, to protect children

rafichagran Sun 11-Feb-24 00:51:54

I think Monicawas talking about the heavy handed way it was done.
It needed a bit of common sense. A phone call, a concerned enquiry about the child's welfare. Not people turning up at the door, when the child is ill. This Mother had provided the proof that was needed.
Personally I would not have been so polite. I would have told them I had provided the proof they required, and I would have told them to leave, waste everyone's time if they wanted to take things further.
I was never bothered by these type of people, but some people are intimidated.

VioletSky Sun 11-Feb-24 01:07:32

I don't think she should be upset, stuff like this is horrible, truly but she has done nothing wrong, children have also been very poorly this year. I've never seen so much illness

rafichagran Sun 11-Feb-24 01:24:32

VioletSky

I don't think she should be upset, stuff like this is horrible, truly but she has done nothing wrong, children have also been very poorly this year. I've never seen so much illness

She is upset that while she is dealing with a sick child, and has provided proof of his illness, plus rung the School everyday, two demanding people turn up on her door step without doing the basic courtesy of ringing first to let her know.

growstuff Sun 11-Feb-24 01:53:02

rafichagran

I think Monicawas talking about the heavy handed way it was done.
It needed a bit of common sense. A phone call, a concerned enquiry about the child's welfare. Not people turning up at the door, when the child is ill. This Mother had provided the proof that was needed.
Personally I would not have been so polite. I would have told them I had provided the proof they required, and I would have told them to leave, waste everyone's time if they wanted to take things further.
I was never bothered by these type of people, but some people are intimidated.

Unfortunately, that is precisely what people who have something to hide would say. (Not implying that was the case here.)

What the welfare officers should have done was cross check what the parents had to say with the reasons given to the school, had a quick chat with the child, made sure that any available medical support was in place and asked whether there was anything which could be done to support the child's learning when absent.

growstuff Sun 11-Feb-24 01:54:10

rafichagran

VioletSky

I don't think she should be upset, stuff like this is horrible, truly but she has done nothing wrong, children have also been very poorly this year. I've never seen so much illness

She is upset that while she is dealing with a sick child, and has provided proof of his illness, plus rung the School everyday, two demanding people turn up on her door step without doing the basic courtesy of ringing first to let her know.

Unfortunately, there have been cases where the parents have been forewarned and made sure the child isn't available at the time.

VioletSky Sun 11-Feb-24 01:55:01

Meanwhile another child somewhere is being kept off school because they have been left with visible injury caused by abuse. Their parent has also called them in sick every day

Another child has a parent who is having a mental health crisis and they haven't had a cooked meal or a bath for a week but the parent has called them in sick to school

The system might not be perfect but it is needed and the alternative is no one checking in on those children

aonk Sun 11-Feb-24 04:46:30

I was a school governor until quite recently. The school concerned dealt with everything so sensibly and tactfully. The Head would contact the parents and ask them to come and see her or would make a home visit if preferred. After the discussion a referral to the authorities would only be made if she thought it was essential. This way she kept the trust and confidence of parents who may well have been experiencing difficulties.

maddyone Sun 11-Feb-24 05:20:42

A well thought out method of dealing with this situation aonk. Schools usually have a good idea of their families, especially primary schools, and they can act accordingly. This may not be the case with the huge secondary schools we have now. Of course it can go wrong, and does, sadly all too often, because schools didn’t identify the needy child.
No system is perfect, but I do think what happened to Monica’s grandchild was heavy handed and unnecessary given the circumstances.

karmalady Sun 11-Feb-24 07:12:53

It is good that there are welfare checks on children and the officers need to be in twos for self-protection. Lots of abuse of all types, goes on behind closed doors and even in `nice` families. The visit was for the good of the child and had to be without a prior phone call. I don`t see anything wrong in the op and am glad that there is some attempt being made to keep a watchful eye on children who might fall under the radar

Joseann Sun 11-Feb-24 07:14:30

👍 aonk. I consider trust to be paramount too, but of course know nothing about the set-up of the school in question.
Talk about going in all guns blazing. I would be upset.

Curtaintwitcher Sun 11-Feb-24 07:30:46

This is another area which became lax and now is starting to be tightened up. Children are the future and it's important that they are properly educated. If a child needs to be absent for any reason, the parents should inform the school.
In this particular case, there seems to have been a breakdown in communication. An apology is in order.

Katie59 Sun 11-Feb-24 07:32:37

The school in the OPs case was using due diligence and safeguarding to check on the child’s non attendance, anything “could” have been happening so I don’t criticize the school, weekly phone calls from a parent could have been covering up a multitude of abuse.

In this case the absence was genuine, long term illnesses are thankfully rare, formal weekly sickness notes from a doctor is not realistic unless it can be done on an automated system linked to continuing treatment.

Jaxjacky Sun 11-Feb-24 07:32:48

Applying the procedure with no common sense.