100% Attendance

We’re sat in the outpatient ward of the children’s hospital. Fortunately for us, the reason we are here is not too serious (although it does mean fairly frequent days out of school). This time round, there has been an administrative error. Some paperwork was misplaced at the start of the day. And because of this, there is a two and a half hour delay before our consultant can see us. In that time, a series of children wait alongside us, some who clearly have complex medical problems. Most of them are in their school uniforms. And as I while away those two and a half hours I start to think, really think, about what it means when schools reward 100% attendance.

One little girl arrives who has obviously spent a lot of time in the children’s hospital. Several nurses pop out to say hello, and how is she doing, and how lovely it is to see her again. There are lots of smiles and hugs. But that little girl will not get 100% attendance. An older boy arrives, pushed in a wheelchair by his mum. She helps him out of his chair, into a seat, and he leans against her as he waits to be seen, clearly in pain. His mum comforts him gently. But that older boy will not get 100% attendance. Another little boy arrives, this one in baggy clothes. From the conversations that ensue it becomes clear that he is recovering from an operation. Clearly, that little boy will not get 100% attendance.

After 150 minutes of this, I am left with a stark conclusion. An expectation of 100% attendance is, frankly, discriminatory. Giving rewards for 100% attendance is, not to put too fine a point on it, plain wrong. And the worst of it is, that we are discriminating against children who are in an awful position to start with. None of these children are here by choice. Their absence from school is entirely unavoidable. And life has given them pain enough already, without us adding to the toll.

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14 Responses to 100% Attendance

  1. philiprolt says:

    I have to be honest but I think that even taking away holiday’s during term time is arrogant. Quality family time often spent experiencing a different culture and then we have schools having to say that they those five days of school are vital for this years’ progress! Separate issue perhaps but still revolves around this preoccupation with 100% attendance. I suspect when (if!) we have schools achieving 100% attendance that the performance statistics will show the importance of attendance to have been an excuse and that actually there won’t be any significant spikes in attainment.


  2. Even when target was 95%, this meant doctors’ letters, medical appointments solely to confirm illness, giving permission for LA to access health records – and an EWO who didn’t know the difference between a bacterial and viral infection. Target culture has a lot of wasted resources to answer for.


  3. Emilyisobel says:

    I’ve had the very same argument in the school where I teach. It is discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010 as there are no reasonable adjustments made for children with disabilities defined under the act. The awards made for 100% attendance can be considerable, at our school there is a voucher at the end of the year but, more insidiously, offers of some trips are only made to children with 100% attendance although this is not advertised by the school so parents don’t know and will rarely kick up a fuss anyway as they accept discrimination as just being what happens to disabled children.


  4. Darvit says:

    …also schools encourage students to take part in “school sanctioned” absences. Time out for sports fixtures, play rehearsals, music exams, outdoor education trips, language exchanges, interschool debates are all hidden absences but don’t affect attendance figures.


  5. Alison Monday says:

    I don’t have a problem with rewarding children who haven’t any unauthorised absences, but if they were authorised then that suggests the head agrees they were unavoidable. Therefore there should not be blame attached…
    My daughter had a few years of getting tonsillitis regularly. Each time she was properly ill, temperature, not eating/drinking, couldn’t speak etc. She had antibiotics frequently and eventually ended up with suspected glandular fever. I am so grateful to her amazing junior school who never ever questioned my decisions as to when/if she was off. They allowed her a phased return at her own pace, where she built up from 1 hour in school until managing the whole day after a number of weeks. This was in the weeks leading up to year 6 Sats! It must have crippled their absence numbers but they didn’t mention that once and my daughter went on to get level 5s with no revision at all. I think it is all too high pressure and appointing blame in so many schools unnecessarily.


  6. Dave says:

    and by the way Sue, the NHS is a shambolic mess.


  7. Daniel J. Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Education Web Gems.


  8. You’re so spot on with this! Agree 100%!!


  9. S m says:

    Seriously you have this to worry about? Get over it, so what if other kids get 100 % attendance and our babies can’t! we focus on what we can achieve not targets that are meaningless! some kids will never be as smart as my child! should my child study less hard to give them a chance to catch up! no of course not, so we don’t fret about minor things like attendance awards! we focus on being at school as much as we can and trying to keep us well and as my daughter would say ‘first world problems’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • teachwell says:

      Thanks – agree wholeheartedly. Also the schools I worked in have always stated that medical appointments, etc are authorised absences, providing evidence should not be a problem if it’s genuine (they only want to see the letter or appointment card). Therefore, children with long-term sickness would get a 100% award. More to the point it just sounds like there is a problem all of a sudden because your child will miss out. Pointing out all the others is simply virtue signalling. Oh and they are given each half term in most schools so there are many opportunities to achieve the award.


  10. fish64 says:

    Just because not everyone is capable of an award in something, is that a justification for banning that particular award?


  11. Pingback: In sickness and in health. | No Baked Beans Here

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