This week I received a letter from my daughters secondary school regarding her attendance. Not only was it distressing to read it is very clear that the content of this letter is bullying, condescending and triggering.
As a parent I know the importance of my child attending school, indeed we talk about it often.
My daughter had been absent for two and a half days, and those absences were a result of one important medical appointment and the others were because she was ill and her school had sent her home.
Not only is it abhorrent to put this amount of pressure upon parents and children whilst we are still in the midst of a pandemic.
It is also extremely insensitive towards children and their parents who have experienced the loss of loved one during the pandemic.
It is also distressing for parents and children that are suffering from Long Covid and other related illnesses.
I was told later that several of my neighbours also received the same letter and some of these parents were very distressed upon receiving them.
Included in the letter are details of how the school plans to give children financial rewards if they achieve full attendance for the school term.
Attending a secondary school, especially an academy can be very stressful not only for the children but for the teaching staff as well. Their school days are met with targets and pressure placed upon children to attend school at all costs, regardless of illnesses and suchlike.
I found it shocking that my daughters school had failed to acknowledge that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, teachers and children are still testing positive for Covid 19 and people are also becoming very ill or dying.
School attendance officers are still attending the homes of children that are ill, and threats of court action are still taking place.
I also found their monetary reward system not only to be extremely unfair and ablest, being impossible to achieve if a child has a disability, long term illness, ill with or isolating with covid 19.
It is extremely discriminatory and definitely not encouraging,. They make children feel inadequate, not good enough and they often blame themselves for being ill.
This in turn puts pressure onto the parents or carers which in turn also puts pressure upon the parent/ carer / child relationship.
It is not suppressing to hear that the pandemic could be fuelling an increase in the number of children moving out of full-time schooling.
In some areas the Local Government Association say they have seen significant rises in registrations for home schooling.
The separate Local Government Associations analysis for attendance during 2018-19 suggested between 250,000 and a million children in England were out of full-time school. This figure rising during the pandemic.
Whilst the government says that school is the best place for the majority of children to be there is a distinct lack of oversight on how and why pupils leave their schools.
The Local Government Association which represents councils in England. estimates the number of children taken out of school could be could be around 280,000 but the absence of a true figure is hard to gather.
We need to look into how many children were out of full-time school before coronavirus hit the UK, and why so many have been taken out of school during the pandemic.
Parents have taken their children out of school for a variety of reasons. Seeing their children being put under extreme pressure at school to attend, to make the school reach their targets even when unwell or disabled.
Parents have also taken their children out of school because during the pandemic it isn’t a safe place to be. The pandemic has seen a rise in registrations for elective home education.
The truth is that many parents and children are not feeling supported by their child’s school. Their only communications from school are often concerning attendance or poor performance, much like an employer contacting an employee for the same reasons.
Whilst I recognise that more funds should be given by the government to enable schools to support children and their parents both in and out of school.
The lack of funding prevents any extra help and support that the school might want to give to pupils in need.
Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, saying
“It is hard to tackle due a lack of council powers and resources, and flaws in an education framework ill-suited to an inclusive agenda.
“Children are arriving in schools with a combination of needs, often linked to disruption in their family lives, at a time when schools’ capacity to respond is stretched to capacity.”
The latest figures released from the government say that 99.8% of state-funded schools were open on 25 March, down from 99.9% on 18 March.
Attendance in state-funded schools was 90% on 25 March, down from 91% on 18 March. Attendance remains higher than at any point during the autumn term.
Attendance in state-funded primary schools was 92% on 25 March, down from 93% on 18 March.
Attendance in state-funded secondary schools was 87% on 25 March, down from 89% on 18 March.
Attendance in state-funded special schools was 82% on 25 March, down from 83% on 18 March. Attendance in state-funded special schools is typically lower than mainstream settings.
Parents should not be criticised for making the decision to move to home education. They know their children better than any educational institution can ever do.
Home educating puts less pressure both on the child and parent, it encourages a child to learn at their own pace and it totally takes away any pressures that they felt when attending school.
Unless the government starts to adequately fund state funded schools properly I foresee the figures for home education to rise.
The target system for both teachers and children needs to end. A child should benefit from attending school not the school benefiting from a child attending school.
No child and teacher should have as many demands as they do now, and no child or teacher should be made to feel that they have to leave their school to improve their mental health.
EDIT. I’ve resolved this issue with the school concerned but I still disagree with the tone and the insensitivity of the letter.
I also agree that my daughters school does some wonderful things for the local community and they have a lot to deal with.
I’d like to thank her school for all of their hard work that they do despite the pressure put onto them by the government and local authority.
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