I’ve never really been a fan of attendance awards at school. My teenager, Star, has a chronic illness and has spent many days in hospital and lost a lot of her attendance. She never received a single attendance award at school, so as well as being a sick child she was also punished for her sickness. In comparison my other two children had good attendance at primary school but I never believed in sending a sick child to school. Last week my Little Man came home in tears. All the children with 100% attendance last term were treated to a trip to a pantomime. He missed out because he was poorly one Friday morning with a tummy bug and he didn’t go to school. He was really upset because he wanted to go, but he was too poorly. He was back in school on the following Monday . He lost one day in four months at school and ended up being punished for it. He wasn’t the only child who missed out, but it seemed so unfair.
I put this tweet out and it received so many responses.
I truly hate rewarding kids for 100% attendance it’s so unfair. My boy lost 1 day last term and today he was one of few left behind while the others had a trip to panto. I should have sent him to school last week with Covid so he’d have more kids to be punished with next time— Raisie Bay (@RaisieBay) January 27, 2022
Punishing Sick Kids
I get that attendance at school is vital for a child’s education and that missing time means more work catching up. But children really do get sick, that’s a fact. And some children are more sickly than others. It just doesn’t seem right to punish sick children when it can’t be helped. Children from poorer families get sick more often, as do children with special needs. These are the children that need the treats more, they need to be encouraged and helped, not punished. Right from the beginning of their lives, our children are being subjected to rewarding the fittest and punishing those in need. Is this really what we should be teaching them? Is this teaching them equality for all?
On top of that we have just been through a pandemic so a lot of children have been absent due to Covid. Are these children seriously being encouraged to attend school with Covid just so they can achieve their 100% award? Maybe not if they have a positive PCR test, but what about all the other children who show symptoms but can’t attend school until they have a negative PCR test. With all the coughs and cold that come with the colder season there would have been many children off waiting, and losing their treats and rewards.
Why Reward at All?
Children love being rewarded and attendance should encouraged. I can honestly say I like the idea of rewards, but not when it punishes the children who have not succeeded in 100% attendance. Even giving out attendance awards for less than 100% is a better option. Like a Silver for 0ver 95% and Bronze for over 90%. Give the kids a chance at least.
When my children were in Primary school they would be treated to a certificate in an end of term assembly, but not just for attendance, they had loads to hand out and plenty of chances for all children to gain a certificate. The children enjoyed their rewards and the parents felt proud. But the other children were not left out by being excluded from special treats like a visit to the panto.
When I complained on Twitter about my sad Little Man I had lots of replies. One person told me that their friend’s son had lost his place on the school football team because of his absence due to Covid. How ridiculous is that! Someone else told me that the 100%ers were allowed to jump the lunch queue, leaving the less healthier children with fewer options to eat. It’s also the poorer children who have the worst health and their school lunch is their main meal of the day. Another person told me about their child missing out because they had a broken shoulder bone. Flipping crazy!
A lot of schools have stopped the 100% attendance awards while we are in a pandemic so not to encourage sick children to school and spread the illness even more. This is more responsible, but I still think they should be scrapped altogether.
Maybe they can reward them a little more discreetly, like with a certificate or voucher in the post. The children will still feel the rewards of their achievement, without the shaming of the children who have been unable to succeed.
Once enrolled in education then attendance is compulsory unless the child is sick or you have permission from the school not to attend for an appointment. If your child does not go to school then the school can take action against you. You may have to attend a parenting course, agree to an education supervision order, be given a school attendance order, or face a fine which, if you don’t pay, could end up being prosecuted and even face a prison sentence. The schools are under close supervision and are constantly encouraged to improve their attendance overall. The rules are made higher up and schools that don’t achieve their goals can be penalised.
As parents, we get it, attendance is important. I encourage my children to go to school no matter what, but sometimes it doesn’t go to plan and illness occurs or other things happen, and attending school becomes a problem. These are things I have dealt with for many years, but having a child break down in tears because his friends have been out for a special treat which he missed because of a dicky tummy is just not right. Especially a child that gets up every day and really wants to go to school. He’s actually the only one of my children who has been like that, but if he get’s punished again for not attending when it was completely out of his control, then I can see his attitude changing.
I do not believe in punishing children for not attending school. Attendance Awards should be scrapped in all schools.