i've received a shirty letter from school as my 4yr old has below average attendance

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peason77 | 13:08 Mon 26th Mar 2012 | Jobs & Education
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hi, i wonder if anyone has any advice. I've just received a letter from my daughter's school saying the education officer is concerned about her attendance as she is below target of 95% (84%) it's a strict school with good ofsted reports (up until now) they've just had ofsted in, and overall only gained a satisfactory result. The teachers etc seem to have a bee in their bonnet now and are clamping down on a lot of things. The thing is, they are suggesting my daughter is behind with her reading and more! (she's the youngest in her year) and i'm a single parent to only one child, i keep feeling the school is pushing her, because, compared with the other pupils (all who have mostly turned 5yrs) my little girl won't turn 5 until the end of August. I keep feeling that they're suggesting i'm failing her in some way. I try so hard with my girl, she's well behaved, well mannered and a credit to me but i feel the school is pushing, pushing, pushing. As for her attendance, she has had 2 weeks off since last Sept (on separate occasions) due to tonsillitis and ear infections, and 3 days off in between as she was running fevers with a cough. Now, i'm a nurse and i'm not stupid when it comes to health. I recognise a genuinely ill child. She's had antibiotics on both occasions. It's more of an effort for me when she is off as i have to arrange time off work. I've called the school to arrange an appt with the headteacher as i'm really mad. What do i say? and if her answers and explanations are insufficient can i complain further and if so who to? Many Thanks


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At first reading, 84% is pretty poor, but then you adequately explain about the poor mite's illnesses.
These letters are pretty standard and don't differentiate between those parents who keep their children off with illness and those who keep their children off for spurious reasons. Don't take the letter personally. By all means go and see the Head and explain. I'm sure she will be fine about it.
Have you written a sick note for when she's been off?
All schools have set policies on attendance and so it is almost automatic that this issue will be pursued. 16% absence is one day in six and this does mean your child will struggle almost inevitably.

If you genuinely have good reason that justifies this explain it to the head but also work with your child to ensure that her education does not suffer.

Being really mad does not help to achieve anything. You can complain to school governors if you are convinced that the school is being unreasonable but remmeber their concern is for oyur child's wellbeing and must not be considered a personal attack on you as a paretnt
I must have misundertood the whole absence thing as I always thought unauthorised absence was the only kind included in the fail percentage figure, has that changed?
They should however be making allowance for the age differences within the class when you are so young 6 months or so is a big gap in terms of what should be expected . If she falls midway between the previous years milestones and the current ones she is probably about right. She will be much closer to the children a year below her.
That was my point Dot.
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thank you mrs_overall :) trouble is i do take things personally, and it's upset me to think that they may think i'm taking my child out of school just for the hell of it.
All absences, authorised or not are added up and lumped together at both my kids schools.

Peason, I wouldn't worry about it, I don't think she legally has to be there til the term after her 5th birthday.
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yes guys and gals i rang in every day to keep them updated and provided a sick note on each occasion and personally handed it to her teacher.
Well you could point out that even though she's had 13 days off so far this school year, assuming she has no more, then she'll be very close to their 95% target.
The school has to address this. I would be more concerned if the school had failed to spot her absence record or was not concerned about low attendance. But maybe the tone of the letter was not appropriate in the circumstances. I would arrange to see the head if it concerns you
Both the secondary and primary school that my children attend have said that two of my children are getting close to the fail figure. The one who goes to secondary has terrible glue ear and it makes him feel crap, the school is 8 miles away and I have had to go and get him three times already (I don't mind but I am not going to send him). The younger one also gets glue ear and the usual childhood ailments. I feels that provided you have a legitimate reason for her absence there's not much more you can do. As for her 'falling behind' maybe you could ask the school for some resources to try and get her to 'catch up'.

PS - I have had the all three of the ones who go to school off sick today!
Reading your post made me mad. However, probably just a tick-box exercise which is why you got that flipping letter.

I'm sure when you meet with the Head everything will be smoothed over. You should however let him know how that letter upset you. Disgusting.
Take your post with you - it's described everything very well!
I think the real reason for the school's attitude here is OFSTED- they may have been pulled up over the school's overall attendance and are now frantically putting measures in place to change their attendance figures for the better. The school I work at had the same 'black mark' from OFSTED re-attendance and have really become very strict about it,as well as introducing incentives to encourage better attendance such as trophies and trips for the classes with best attendance each term. Genuine illness however cannot be helped. I'm sure the letter will be of the generic kind issued to all parents and not specifically singling out you as a parent. As for her being behind with her reading? Read with her at home-its the best way there is to improve and a lovely way of bonding together. Don't let it upset you.
I agree with Suechu. I seriously doubt that the head teacher has much concern for your child. They are mainly bothered about their statistics for Offsted.
I actually think that 2weeks and 3 days off over the winter for a four year old sounds like a pretty good attendance record. They catch everything at that age.
I also happen to think that your child is extremely unlikely to have 'fallen behind' because of this.....and if she had, then why weren't you informed before this ?
I think I would be asking the head what solutions he/she suggests for reducing your child's absence level when every time she was absent she was ill.
Let the head know that you were offended by the letter you received .
Give her to me to look after. I am very patient with other people's children and can teach them to read and to swim. I learned to read on Reader's Digest and when I could read for myself there was no stopping me. Deny your daughter nothing and it will all pay off in the end.
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thank you everyone :) well i did as you suggested and went to see her head teacher, who was very nice about it. I didn't go in raving mad, but i'm sure she knew i wasn't best pleased. I hope i gave her the impression that i'm not the kind of mother that just keeps her child off school because i can't be bothered to get out of bed, or assert myself. Infact, as i said, it's more of a hassle for me to keep her off, but i can't see my little girl go into school whilst she's running a temp of 39.3 and throwing up. I felt mad because i thought here my wee girl is, really suffering and all the school is bothered about is their attendance figures! Anyhow, i went to parent's evening yesterday and i was expecting a lecture from her class teacher on her attendance and the fact she was 'behind' but to my surprise her teacher was very nice (i think the head may have told her that i had addressed the attendance issues and was not best pleased) BUT she did say my daughter was behind in her reading and lacked confidence. When i asked if she made allowances for the fact my daughter is the youngest in her year and only just turns 5 when her friends are turning 6, she said NO! 'some of the brightest children are often the youngest'. Now i'm no expert in education but expecting a 4yr old to read AND write a sentence seems slightly harsh to me. I've heard other schools DO make these allowances. I read with her every night, and love our time together. I've asked if she can have extra support, and as for the confidence, well surely if she's being asked to do things she can't do that will enhance her lack of confidence? infact she said to me yesterday 'mummy, i always want to ask for help because i can't do what the other children do' it broke my heart. How did it come to this? when i have to produce a sick note from the doctor to prove my 4yr old is genuinely ill, and when schools are constantly pushing their pupils to improve their targets. Where is the fun in being a child anymore? She's just 4 after all!
why do you put her in a class with kids her own age then? you have enrolled her at school seemingly a bit early for what the other kids - the 5 year olds are doing.
as someone said she legally doesnt have to be there so why put her in this position?
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she has to go to school because she is 5 by the 1st of September (she turns 5 late August), therefore she is the youngest in her year. No real way around it. Many children in England are in the same position as my daughter. Unfortunately i didn't time her conception right!!

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