I begin this by saying that my son has won two 100% attendance awards. He is nearly 8. I also begin by saying, I used to be a governor at my son’s school. I wish I still was, but family circumstances made it impossible. Today, I feel I have failed my child because of this.
At school, they award for attendance by term, and for year AND by term for each CLASS. Even the socially challenged pedantic genius can see that this is not right. I teach him that it is OK to take a day off if he is really too poorly for school, (he very rarely is) because, it is IMPORTANT to look after himself, and maybe ne day off now, and proper rest will mean he will be back at school working better than if he pushed himself and went to school, with no extra rest, and felt ill for a week.
100% attendance is a good aim, but, penalising those who have to attend hospital appointments, or who take the day off to prevent others getting sick (you know, as they are legally required to do if they get D&V?) or who make their drs appointment near to the start of the day to miss a minimum amount of time is actually unfair, and providing a party, or a treat that disabled kids cannot ever attend is even illegal.
Providing a cash reward to the whole class for attendance is even worse, since, now, if you have a disability, or bother to look after yourself, your class can also make your school experience worse, and yes, there ARE children who worry about this.
My ASD, socially disadvantaged child can see the problems with this. His school cannot. *I* happen also to have looked at their attendance award displays (yes, they put up pictures of the perfect people) I spotted that a lot of the children who have perfect attendance, have siblings who, surprise surprise, ALSO have perfect attendance. Now, maybe they are genetically less likely to be unwell, maybe they are lucky not to have any health or disability issues. But the chances of having two children, or more, in the germ factory that is school, and never need a day off sick, is fairly small. Unless, you have no childcare, have to work, and can’t consider anything but the very most severe health issue as worthy of time off.
Which is no criticism of those parents, there are people out there living in really difficult circumstances. There are children who get themselves to school. There are people with family at home with seriously compromised immune systems, There are all manner of reasons and life experiences, and I am not here to discuss them.
I am here to discuss the fact that my son, who struggles to know what is socially acceptable wants these policies to stop. Without my input at all, he decided that it is unfair.
So, I went in to discuss it with the head teacher. We know people who have successfully challenged these policies.
As ever, I am one person, she is always with at least two other people to talk.
They were all confused, bewildered that we would even be bothered, because my son is always in school, so what does it matter to us? Because no one ever had a social conscience before. Such a thing is not a valuable thing to appreciate in a child at all, but even more in a child who struggles to understand such things.
Then, they chose the path of defensiveness. What do we SUGGEST they do?! Why change something they have ALWAYS done? It WORKS.
We offered them suggestions, rewarding improved attendance, teaching children to value their health and well being, and scrapping them all together. None of these are in line with their impeccable, not changing something we’ve always done logic.
They will take it to “the governors” – I have been in those meetings. If it goes there at all, they will likely joke at the silliness of wanting to change something that everyone does, other schools do it. Being in line is better than being *better*.
This is what happens when you want to encourage your child to speak out, to understand unfairness, and speak out even if it isn’t your own situation. To show them that it is good to stand up and do the right thing.
And then, we wonder where children are learning that such things are worthless.