I have already ranted on this blog about the absurdity of schools handing out too much praise to kids for having exemplary attendance records. Remember the poor 11 year old chap who refused to go to Disneyland because he didn’t want to break his run of turning up to his primary school every day for seven years. It still beggars belief.
Since then at my daughter’s school, they have held a couple of ‘attendance weeks’. Any child who attends school on all of the five days in the designated week receives a certificate. In other words it’s all down to chance – if you’re ill, well, there’s no certifcate for you. As my daughter Carys said of one of her fellow pupils: ”Jamie didn’t get one because he was poorly.” Tough luck Jamie, you lightweight.
I can’t begin to say how wrong the whole system is. But it brings me onto something that earlier this week grabbed my goat by the horns even more.
There has been a sickness bug doing the rounds at the school for a couple of weeks now. Last Wednesday it hit our house with first Jem, then Carys succumbing to it.
Thankfully it is the sort of bug where the worst of it passes quite quickly and both appeared to be much better by the next day.
But in stark contrast to the attendance certificate policy, there is another one which states that if your child is poorly with such a bug, then they must stay off school for 48 hours to ensure it is completely out of their system, regardless of whether they seem ok in themselves or not. It makes perfect sense, minimising the risk of passing it on to others.
So Friday became a sick day – and quite a magical day at that. No getting up for the school run and we even got in the Christmas tree and decorated it.
By Monday both were fine and went back to school. Other kids had come down with what they’d had too and were also taking the time off school. Funny how this had happened literally a week after attendance week.
But what annoyed those that had followed protocol was the realisation on Tuesday that a handful of parents were ignoring this enforced 48 hours recovery period and sending their poorly kids back into school the next day. Even worse was that one of these parents was rumoured to be a governor – one of those people who oversees school rules such as these and really should know better.
Do I really need to explain the maths? Clearly, yes. I appreciate there are childcare issues and sometimes parents think they can’t afford to have a sick day or want to take it as holiday but by allowing your poorly child to go back into school early means it is far more likely that two or three of their classmates are going to come down with the same thing. That’s two or three parents who end up with childcare issues.
From an employer’s point of view, it may be a pain having one staff member off sick but if they feel they have to come in and drop them off for school regardless, you are likely to have made them pass it onto other kids and then suddenly you have three working mums in our society unable to work.
The message is clear: don’t do it. Use the opportunity to spend some quality time with your child. Negotiate a way with your boss to make up time at work and if they’re still not happy about it, well stuff them.
Because someone at our school, governor or otherwise, didn’t adhere to the policy, Carys is poorly again, if anything worse than before. We are on our way somewhere for a very special long weekend – more on this next week – and this bug is threatening to spoil it. It’s already put a downer on our first night away and who knows if any of the rest of us will get poorly. Hopefully not but the way I’m feeling right now, I wish I had kept Carys off all school all week because as far as I am concerned, this makes the whole system of attendance certificates even more of a farce.
Of course there may be other factors why Carys got poorly this evening. Scoffing a big bag of Minstrels on the way to the hotel is one other suspect but this is one of those bugs which clearly is a bug. Let’s face it, it is the result of one parent or other being selfish enough not to care how letting their poorly child attend school will affect others.
I cannot begin to express how angry this all makes me feel. I’ve actually expressed an interest in being a governor. I am really not sure what the point of it is now.