Why my son won’t be accepting his 100% attendance award

//Why my son won’t be accepting his 100% attendance award

Why my son won’t be accepting his 100% attendance award

Four reasons my son won’t accept his 100% Attendance Award.
No. 2 son has been awarded an evening at a soft play centre because he has 100% attendance at school. He loves going to soft play, he loves going out with his friends, we love it when school reward him BUT he won’t be going. Here’s why…

1) We don’t reward luck.

In this family we will think of as many reasons possible to praise our children. We will celebrate and reward them, but being lucky enough not to get sick is not one of them. He’s lucky to have not developed a fever, had an accident or live with a chronic illness.

2) 100% Attendance Awards exclude the weakest.

In this family you are not shamed for ill health, vulnerability or weakness. In this house you are not encouraged to spread germs when you are not well. In this house we look after ourselves and the weakest amongst us.
Can you imagine a work place that at the end of each week marked out all the people who hadn’t been sick? Where all the departments with the least number of people off were rewarded – in front of everyone else? It happens in schools all the time.
Can you imagine what kind of atmosphere that would create with people who had days off because of bereavement, mental health problem or chronic conditions?
What are we teaching our kids about value and worth?

What are we teaching them about looking out for each other and looking after the sick or disabled in our community?

3) He had no control over his 100% attendance.

In this family you don’t take praise for something you didn’t do. He had no control over his attendance. I took him to school and it would have been my decision to keep him off. I should get the reward (or not) for his attendance.

4) We are taking him out of school for 5 days at the end of term.

In this family we value school and work but we also know the importance of making memories and having rest. So our son will finish his school year one week early and go to Italy instead class parties, watching films and playing end of year games (with permission from school).*

As much as I understand the importance of attendance, there must be a better way of helping those families and children who don’t go to school for non-genuine reasons.
The messages we are sending to our kids when we reward attendance is wrong for so many reasons – there has to be a better way.

Do you have any creative suggestions about how schools can tackle non-genuine attendance without penalising the sick?

*We are going on holiday without our eldest son who is severely disabled. As a result we need to go during school term as we cannot expect anyone to care for him 24hours a day. As it is, a complex package of support from family, hospice, paid carers and school will mean the holiday takes place. It isn’t how we imagine a family holiday but it is sadly what is needed.

If you have found my writing helpful, funny, or you just like to read it, then please head over to My Family Our Needs and nominate me for one the BAPS awards.

Thanks, Rachel

By | 2017-12-15T19:43:44+00:00 July 1st, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , |110 Comments

About the Author:

Qualified Nurse, Writer, Trainer, Public Speaker and unqualified parent of three. My days consist of Lego, laundry and loving three boys, one of whom has complex and life-limiting disabilities.

110 Comments

  1. Matthew - meandminimees July 2, 2017 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Love this. My two have complex emotional and behavioural issues, attendance is one of their things. No matter what they can’t miss a day, even if really ill. It’s because of the rejection they feel if they let people down, so they turn up streaming with colds etc. They keep saying how they will get into trouble if they don’t turn up. It means they don’t rest, and their illnesses last so much longer. I also work with children with complex health needs. The number of times parents phone, distraught they are being investigated for poor attendance. Some of those kids it’s a miracle they muster up the strength to ever go to school in the first place.
    Thanks for writing and sharing.

    • Rachel Wright July 2, 2017 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment. I hope your kids find the right support in their school environment. Rachel

      • Matthew - meandminimees July 2, 2017 at 5:07 pm - Reply

        One absolutely has, the other crushingly not. They are twins, going to different establishments. One place is brilliant, and makes even more obvious how bad the other is. He going somewhere else next term, hopefully things will turn around.

        • Rachel Wright July 2, 2017 at 8:34 pm - Reply

          Hope next term brings good news for both your children.

  2. Taunia July 2, 2017 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    You could look at this award as an opportunity to further model and practise gratitude (ie. health and student appreciation) and graciousness.

    • Rachel Wright July 2, 2017 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      Very wise words. Thank you.

  3. Kate July 3, 2017 at 6:35 am - Reply

    Is it ridiculous to say I was proud of you when I read this blog? And it made me THINK for which I am truly grateful. In our madly modern lives taking the time to think about a situation like this, a situation which could so easily have been accepted as ‘a positive and now move on’, is rare I find. I have 2 children both of whom have a genetic condition that causes bouts of pancreatitis. My eldest is diagnosed as chronic and so inevitably has had time off school. Her attendance is below 85% which means she gets a ‘thumbs down’ emoji on her online report status. 🙁 She arrived at secondary school 5 weeks late for the first term due to a prolonged hospital stay. In the second half of her first term she was awarded a certificate for ‘improved attendance’ which was handed out in assembly. She was mortified. The school hadn’t intended to be unkind but nevertheless it was a thoughtless thing to do. I should say I like the school she’s at. The pastoral care staff are lovely and they try hard to create a safe, happy environment for all the kids that go there. BUT…. they are often too busy and the systems they have to operate within are too generic, too dictatorial can’t possibly work for all. I teach the kids to see the systems around them, to understand what they are and why they are and hopefully to feel empowered to make their own choices about when to fit in and when to not and the consequences of their choices. Both the girls (aged 11 and 13) have read your blog and had quite a lot to say about it. I just want to say thank you. x

    • Rachel Wright July 3, 2017 at 7:35 am - Reply

      You’re more than welcome to feel proud! The blog certainly has created some discussion! Glad you’re happy with your school and hope they continue to support (and communicate with you).

  4. Jen July 3, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

    I agree – this policy is not well thought out. In Wales we have a curriculum for children from 3-7 that supposedly foregrounds their well-being and rights. The way schools approach attendance foregrounds neither. I believe it actually is detrimental to both. Children are pitted against each other and made to feel that they have let the whole class down if they miss a day. I feel strongly that this is for politcal gain only – an easy win for a party to show they are doing something. We have recently had a leaflet from our local council on the importance of attendance and while i think regular attendance is important I also think it should be a families decision if they want to visit a museum, gallery, significant family/sporting/cultural event and the child should not feel they cannot miss a day of school to enjoy these important life events. Children should also feel able to rest if they are unwell not that they have to get back to school just to keep their class numbers up – it is wrong! I think as parents and members of society we should fight against this. I will be writing to our children’s commissioner shortly – this policy is not foregrounding the well being of our children and that is surely what schools should be about.

    • Rachel Wright July 3, 2017 at 8:46 am - Reply

      Some very good points Jen, Thanks for contributing.

  5. Liz July 3, 2017 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Love this and totally agree. My daughter has never ‘won’ an attendance award in her life but has missed out on lots of attendance treats and trips. The worst time was in primary school when she repeatedly ‘lost’ her class the class award, and was bullied because of it, because, yet again, they didn’t get the wii for playtime because of her. Because of her constant hospital and doctors appointments.
    I’ve always thought attendance awards are actually discriminatory and think they should be shelved under the DDA – but all schools have them to please Ofsted.
    My son once tore up his 100% award in front of his sister. ‘This is what I think to this,’ he said. I was so proud of him 🙂

    • Rachel Wright July 3, 2017 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      Yep – now that is worth an award – the ability to see what is of value and how these things make other people feel. Maybe he could do some training with the government, OFSTED and school staff. It sounds as though they have a lot to gain from his wisdom.

  6. Granta July 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    In a work place, this would never be acceptable, but we allow this to be happen for our children. I don’t agree with this 100% award, as if my children are ill, they are off school so that they can recover and to help to prevent the spread of illness.

    This is teaching the children it is OK, just to attend as you will still get an award for this, even if you do not do any work. – You would be in trouble if you continued to do this in work.

    There should be more focus on what your children can do, due to the fact that they have attended school, not because 100% of the time they been there.

    Let’s stop punishing kids for being ill and instead look at ways to increase engagement and motivation for all school children, so that they want to learn in a school environment. The focus should be, “aim higher by learning more”, so that you can work towards their own goals i.e. getting their own Ipads, Ipods, Laptops etc, We as parents need to be encourage them to learn and enjoy being at school, so that they can meet their own goals. For example, if you get above the pass mark, we will give you X towards your goal, set the boundaries, set the goals and you all help the children work towards their goals.

    I know of people who attend school 100% of the time, and they are not the best at certain subject, whereas a child who has only attending 80% or less, is ahead of those who attend 100%. It this down to the child attending school, or the quality of teaching or the child focus on learning?

  7. Julie July 3, 2017 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    It’s often impossible to get 100% attendance. When my older son was younger, we often had appointments and assessments to go to. One of them was a family based assesment, so all three of my children needed a day off.
    And we had the day my youngest son was going to Me Speaker ‘a house for a lunchtime reception. He wasn’t sick, he was celebrating an achievement and meeting people.
    Then he was off again two weeks later for his sister’s graduation. So he would have been penalised for a family celebration.
    When Peter was at school (complex sen) one mother used to send her daughter in, even when she was sick. I remember days she would have a snottery nose and hacking cough, but still sent her, to infect everyone else. Thankfully, even tho my son does has complex issues, health is not usually a problem.

  8. Barbara Kell July 3, 2017 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    Great blog, so true rewards should not be given for luck. We need to earn rewards and for some children doing something very small is deserving of a reward.
    Both of my granddaughters have health issues which affect their energy levels and some days must be spent out of school for them to catch up on energy.
    They are both A+ students so there is no reason not to only do a four day week if needed and school have been told that will happen when needed.
    Not sure how happy school are but our priority is the health of the children. We want happy children not exhausted children. We want them to be able to enjoy none school time not need to rest all weekend for another eek of hard slog.
    I hope you enjoy both holidays, I fully understand as my youngest brother could never join us on our family holiday because of his disabilities.
    Thank you again for bringing up this subject very close to my heart seeing it from both sides.

  9. Lindsay July 3, 2017 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    Oh Rachel I could WEEP for this! It’s ten to one in the morning and the reason I am up is because I have just fired off an email to my son’s school. He is 12 and in Y8 and is missing out on the reward trip because of his attendance which is one percent below what it should be. I fired it off in anger although I reread it and my points were sound but how I wish I had read your wise words first. Tummy bugs, yes, but his was also getting his glasses broken at school (he can’t see without them), feeling sick and then vomiting in class (too hot in his blazer) led to me being called to come and pick him up. I asked if they wanted me to refuse next time, on account of his attendance!
    I should also add he’s also missing out on the trip because he has over 5 debits (no pencil – his mechanical pencil broke); having his shirt untucked (twice – he’s a skinny boy and it’s always going to happen!) one late (my fault – we come by car and there was roadworks but he was only 2 minutes late). But the 64 commendations he has earned this year seem to count for little against the five debits and attendance that preclude his attendance on the theme park trip (an invitation on to the trip is all that comes from the school – parents still foot the bill!) . His school sends the message that no matter how GOOD you are, the little you’ve fallen short will always count for more!!! Honestly I could weep! Thank you for your wise words!

  10. Jan July 4, 2017 at 7:26 am - Reply

    I’m staggered at the response you have had from this, my initial reaction was let’s find some way of sponsoring these children so they can still make the trip in one way or another. On reflection, all though it could be a good idea, it would be enforcing the school policy which in effect is discriminating against the more vulnerable in our society. We have to find ways to challenge the system and seek for a more fairer climate within our schools.

  11. Carol July 4, 2017 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Well said, My children were encouraged to go to school every day but due to illness my daughter missed her 100% award, due to moving house my son missed 6 months of school because there wasn’t a place for him. Neither missed one day from choice . Awarding a child for doing what is expected from every child is wrong and does give the wrong message. As a nurse I wonder how many children are devastated at losing this ‘award’ due to illness or accident.
    My son got the headmasters award for achievement as he did a whole year of work with only 6 months schooling…now that was deserved 🙂

  12. Jay July 4, 2017 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    I applaud your principled stance in fighting this blatant ableism. You are teaching your son to stand up for the vulnerable and against discrimination. It is heartbreaking to witness the encouraging and rewarding of bigotry and prejudice against sick and disabled children, by those who are entrusted with ensuring their physical and emotional well-being.

    Our young daughter had some serious infections last year, including mono and haemophilus influenzae, and developed a serious, likely debilitating, chronic disease.

    She also received a completely unprovoked death threat from another student (with a history of extreme bullying) that the school administration labeled “age-appropriate behavior.” She got repeatedly physically hurt by the same student. As a result, we were forced to look for a new school for next year.

    Instead of empathy for her being sick, threatened and injured, her teachers chastised us for her having missed a few days of school due to illness and visiting prospective schools. We were also reprimanded for letting the teachers know that she had trouble hearing on and off due to middle-ear infections. Instead her teachers demanded that she point out the hearing issues herself, in front of the entire class, at age 6—when, often, she wasn’t even aware that she didn’t hear properly. The teachers even made her attend PE, ignoring her doctor’s order, seemingly because they didn’t believe she was sick. These are just examples of our experience over a period of only a few months. The ignorance and hostility by the teachers vis-a-vis our daughter merely because she has been sick was astonishing. This type of indifference and cruelty is fed and justified by values such as perfect attendance, which not only lets the kind of teachers we encountered of the hook, but reinforces their delusion that their attitude towards sick and disabled children is warranted.

    Thank you for your advocacy!

  13. Debbie July 4, 2017 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    A very thoughtful and poignant article. I agree with your comments re attendance and the rewards for 100% attendance.

    I can’t imagine the pain and mixed feelings you will have on your holiday as you celebrate special family time with such a big part of your family missing. I hope your son is able to enjoy his own special week with the hospice team who I know will do everything they can to not only care for him but build lots of fun into the week too. I hope this means that you and the other people that make up your family will be able to relax and enjoy your holiday

    Just one final question – are 100% attendance records legal? I don’t think they are. I think they break the Equality Act 2010. I think a 100% attendance target is direct discrimination against a person / child who has a disability ie because that child needs time off school for hospital appointments or disability related ill-health means that they cannot achieve a 100% attendance record. Also, because a disability might make a child more prone to an infection or that a simple illness like a cold could be very serious for a child with, say, Asthma means that they can’t get 100% attendance.

  14. Cath kilbey July 4, 2017 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Five of my grandchildren, ages ranging from 5 through to 14, sadly lost their father unexpectedly a few months ago. One issue that broke my heart was when my daughter said how several of them were pleading with her, not to arrange the funeral on a school day as it would affect their attendance record………….im lost for words. What message are we giving our young people?

  15. Paula Hill July 5, 2017 at 8:18 am - Reply

    My daughter received a red certificate for poor attendance at her school, that was given to her in front of the class, she was so upset, she has Crohns Disease and goes through a lot and it’s impossible to have 100% attendance. The school also reward children with fun treats only for the children with 100% attendance, The names Of The children with 100% also go into a draw to win a table, It feels like my daughter is being punished for her illness.

  16. Stepj July 5, 2017 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Just a quick note about this happening in theworkplace. It does. At my old workplace Performance Related Pay (quarterly bonus) was only given to those with certain attendance levels (it was one of the performance related criteria). Teams with 100% attendance in the month would be rewarded with a free breakfast – the winners announced over a tannoy to 11 floors of staff.

  17. EmmaW July 5, 2017 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Interesting read, however you seem to assume that attendance is solely down to sickness be it physical or mental. What about the kids who “can’t be bothered” going to school, argue and fight with their parents about it until the parents relent? Or the families who take term time holidays (that’s a whole new post though) for whatever reason?
    Children who manage to get 100% attendance should be acknowledged, it’s not their fault if they’ve managed to get through a whole school year without the need to be off.
    However, I don’t think 100% attendance should be rewarded with things like days out that’s just ridiculous! Simple certificates like the ones they get for “nice handwriting”!

    I personally will reward myself for my children’s attendance this year. I’M the one who got them to school on time everyday and I’LL be the one who looks at the certificate with a little smile whilst my kids won’t give two s**ts about it 🙂

    • Winter Sweet July 7, 2017 at 1:35 am - Reply

      I have to disagree with you, I have five children, three nearly always get 100% attendance, this is through no effort of their own, they are lucky to have been born healthy and well. My fourth child however had the misfortune to be born with Autism, Asthma and various allergies. The Asthma makes him vulnerable to whatever comes his way and he has had several occasions a year where he has been hospitalised, the check ups with the three consultants that he is under have to be attended when they are sent out to us, if you try to change them you’re talking about another six to nine month wait for an appointment, he is very aware of how unfair his life is and it really rubs it in when the others get rewarded at the end of the year and he misses out through no fault of his own it really upsets him, especially the one term he got close then the school few him something that he was allergic to leading to a couple of days in hospital and a loss of 100% attendance. My fifth child was born with a heart condition and has already been through open heart surgery at the age of 2 weeks and another operation, she will likely have to have another operation in the next few years, why should she be effectively punished because her heart isn’t what it should be? Our school also gives the children prizes for punctuality, if the children are late it is my fault not theirs, as with all other children in the school. Give me prizes not the children!

  18. Larry Bundy Jr July 5, 2017 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    When my brother was at school in the ’70s, the reward for 100% attendance was a bible! But one of his classmate’s parents wanted it so much, they shoved their child into school with full blown chicken pox, which spread to half the entire class.

    So it can be considered a pretty selfish and dangerous thing too.

    • Robin Dickson July 7, 2017 at 7:07 am - Reply

      When I was a youngster and someone had chicken pox, everyone who hadn’t had it seemed to call round in order to catch it and ‘get it out of the way’ !

  19. Laura Henry July 5, 2017 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this blog! I agree with you 100% as a parent and a professional, I wrote a similar blog two years ago: http://www.laurahenryconsultancy.com/2014/07/22/your-names-not-down-youre-not-coming-in/

  20. Evs July 5, 2017 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    As an ex teacher who saw students cry because they had epilepsy/asthma and didn’t get 100% and therefore a reward I love this, and agree wholeheartedly!

  21. Edward July 5, 2017 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this thought-provoking article Rachel. It was interesting to note that you mention how awful it would be if if a work place marked out who had been sick at the end of the week. Mine does, to a fashion, anyway. At the end of the year everyone with 100% attendance receives a certificate and a selection is chosen at random to attend an all expenses paid dinner – and wait for it, yes, I work in health and social care!

    I hope that you all enjoy your holiday to Italy, a truly wonderful country to visit. I also hope that your eldest son is well-looked after during this time. I am an OT specialising in learning disabilities and complex needs so understand – to some extent – the demands that he must place on you around the clock.

  22. Sara Grey July 5, 2017 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Speaking as a year group leader in a secondary school, I agree 100% with the idea that pupils should not be penalised for being unlucky enough to have a condition that gets in the way of their education. I am very unhappy with some of the things I’m directed to do as part of my job in the name of improving attendance, because I strongly feel that it’s unfair to pupils who cannot help having low attendance and it is also not good use of staff time as it takes up hours that could be put to much better use on other aspects of pupils’ education. I just wanted to explain things from schools’ points of view, for anyone who isn’t already aware of all of this. People’s energy and protests would be better directed towards the government, not towards individual schools, because our hands are tied by the unrealistic expectations imposed on us. Please make as much of a fuss as possible, and maybe the government will listen to parents, because they certainly aren’t listening to teachers!

    The government and Ofsted say that schools must have at least 96% attendance on average and the % of “persistent absentees” (attendance below 90% – since 2011 this has moved from 80%, then to 85%, now 90%) is also closely monitored. Lower attendance can be a factor in Ofsted judging a school as inadequate, and schools are under enormous pressure to improve attendance. In a recent inspection, I was interviewed by an Ofsted inspector because my year group’s attendance is the lowest in the school, at 94.5%. As I explained, this is largely down to 3 pupils who have been absent for virtually the whole year due to serious mental and/or physical health issues, with medical evidence to back this up. If they are not counted, our attendance is over 96%. The response? “So what are you doing to get these pupils back in school?” Well… nothing. I’m leaving that to the medical professionals who are treating them. But that wasn’t acceptable. Apparently I should be doing everything I can to encourage these pupils back into school, despite them being deemed unfit for attending school by their doctors. This is what we’re working with here – zero consideration for pupils’ individual circumstances and absolutely no compassion.

    Schools are therefore forced into a position where maintaining good attendance is the priority, so end up coming up with a variety of ways to try and promote good attendance and reduce absenteeism. If anyone has come up with a way of doing this that isn’t unfair to pupils who have genuine reasons for low attendance, I really wish I knew about it!

    As part of my role, I’m directed to phone the parents of any pupils who’ve been off for 2 days, or who have had 2 consecutive weeks with a day off – even if they have already contacted school to explain the absence. I HATE doing this, and the majority of parents understandably react defensively and feel like they’re being hassled. Which, frankly, they are. I’d avoid doing it, but I’m required to keep a log of the calls, which is checked from time to time. Not doing this, or making it up, could lead to disciplinary action against me.

    One of the targets on my performance management is for my year group’s attendance to be above 96%. I need to pass my performance management each year, because if I apply for another job, the reference is likely to ask whether I passed my PM the previous year. My pay is also linked to passing my PM – yep, if some of my year group are unlucky enough to suffer a serious illness, that means I’m not doing my job properly and shouldn’t be paid as much.

    Are you seeing why schools are running these attendance initiatives? PLEASE don’t just accept ableism and discrimination against your children, but complaining to staff in schools just makes us feel even more demoralised and pulled in two directions, without being able to do anything to change things. We want the best for your child, but we’re at the mercy of what the government chooses to impose on us – please write to your MP, to Ofsted, to your local paper, but please remember that the vast majority of teachers feel exactly the same as you do about this. We just can’t say so when we speak to you about your child’s attendance, because we can’t openly criticise our schools.

    • Kiera July 7, 2017 at 2:55 am - Reply

      Thank you for explaining this. Perhaps someone (you? A parent?) needs to start a government petition. My 3 year old daughter will start school in 2018, so these rules have not effected us yet.

  23. Donna Turner July 6, 2017 at 2:23 am - Reply

    Thank you. This is a struggle here in the States too. Parents send children with high fevers (102F) infecting other students even to the point of hospitalization. People wonder why illnesses spread so widely and quickly- look no further than policies that encourage going to work/school sick. My own son (a very vulnerable child with autism, tumors, and seizures) was hospitalized twice because someone came to his special education class sick. When students and staff come to school (where I work) sick, I worry that I will catch it and bring it home to him and I know I am not the only one that feels that way.

  24. Emma July 6, 2017 at 8:11 am - Reply

    I am totally with you on this. The logic of this system where attendance is rewarded above other things has always alluded and frustrated me. Thank you!

  25. Melissa July 6, 2017 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Do you know this is so true!! Laura attendance was 90.7! This is highest she has ever got with her having health problems so much in primary! I have sent her to school quite unwell this year with paracetamol for her to take dinner time! A few times I should not have sent her, but she so wanted 100%!!! She cried when she had to have time off for a very very nasty viral infection as she now wouldn’t get 100% attendance!
    It then carries on into the workplace, where I watched my partner go to work poorly so many times, ‘ I can’t have time off it will look bad’ He then was always poorly when he did have time off! Although he worked so many extra hours for the company, he still went to work quite poorly on times! Then the last time he went to work feeling a little under the weather Mon!then not too good Tue! Then Wed went in feeling really poorly! He was off Thu which he spent very poorly on the sofa! Friday so poorly had GP out who was rubbish! Early hours Saturday 1.05am I called out if hours as getting worse! Saturday eve I called an ambulance! He was taken straight to resus then to ITU where he fought for his life for four weeks with Pneumonia, sepsis and complete organ failure! Extremely lucky he pulled through it!
    And this prob wouldn’t have got so bad if he had taken time off work?
    So this post above is extremely correct and things should change for those who genuinely are sick, long term illness etc etc!
    I’m all for rewarding good behaviour 110% but the 100% reward is so so wrong!
    Thanks for sharing Sarah! Let’s hope many teachers and head teachers get this ladies fab post on their feeds!

  26. Ms. Robinson July 6, 2017 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Poor kid, he cannot receive an award because by denying him you further your own ends. Instead allowing him to get a small pat on the back for going to school instead of missing for no good reason, you deny him and instead have a soapbox issue to spout off about. I feel sorry for your son. How many things will he miss out on to further you ur warped sense of right and wrong?

    Perfect attendance rewards were created to give children incentives for actually going to school when they could and should have, that offends you so your child cannot be rewarded. So how many positive opportunities must he miss out on to in order to further your writing and soapbox opportunities?

    I imagine if you won some money or another prize you would not reject even though winning it came only through luck. poor little boy. You appear to be a narcissist who’s only goal is to service your own ego, even if that is at the expense of your child’s self esteem.

    • Rachel Wright July 6, 2017 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Ms Robinson, Thanks for your comment. He’ll be getting a big pat on the back from us for showing up and doing his best at school. He is going tomorrow to the same play centre with friends who did and did not get 100% attendance. Any disappointment he feels is matched by every other child who was sick this year.

    • Collie July 6, 2017 at 11:25 pm - Reply

      I think you should read her piece again. To think about and then commit to print, an opinion on something that is, to most no coincidence, to me at least, shows an attitude towards their child’s and others wellbeing that is both inspiring and refreshing. In particular to know that the social obsession with self esteem, ID, is not being bought by all

    • Winter Sweet July 7, 2017 at 1:51 am - Reply

      It is the children’s right to go to school and their parent’s responsibility to get them there. There should be no reward for this. Once a child is in school the effort they put in should then be rewarded no matter what their skill level is not just turning up.

      To raise your child to see life from another person’s point of view and support vulnerable people is a much more important thing than a 100% attendance award.

  27. Ramelda July 6, 2017 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    What a fantastic attitude and thank you for sharing it.I am able bodied and what effort did I put into it?

    Nothing!

    Why should I be rewarded for doing nothing because it is in line with an organisation’s key performance indicators?

    Well done for standing up for the truth.

  28. Ellie July 6, 2017 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Hi I’m a teacher in reception. I have a well child with 50% attendance in my class and a child who has had slapped cheek, pneumonia, scarlet fever and colds. Guess who gets my sympathy?

    My school has a really poor attendance record overall but I wouldn’t for a minute criticise poorly kids neither make a huge fuss of the luck that leads to being well.

  29. Danial July 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Even though this is great and a fresh point of view on the 100% attendance award, isn’t it a bit shit to be using your child to further this cause? Just let him have his prize and be done with it. You can still raise awareness on this matter without putting him in this position (regardless of what he thinks of it because let’s be honest, most of his thinking is shaped and modelled by you anyways

    • Rachel Wright July 7, 2017 at 6:32 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment Danial. I have no ’cause’ to further. The post was an after thought. The decision was made immediately. We are taking him out of school for the final week – he won’t get 100% attendance by the end of the year. But I have many problems with the values of the system as dictated in my post. And he’s going to the play centre with friends today – for showing up at school and trying hard this year.

  30. Cosmo July 6, 2017 at 11:03 pm - Reply

    The problem with a 100% policy is that if you are sick on day two then that’s you out of the running for the whole school year. The policy can then no longer present any motivation so why bother?

    • Jill July 19, 2017 at 12:14 am - Reply

      This is actually the firstb thing I thought of when I read the post.

  31. Collie July 6, 2017 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    I have never really thought about attendance awards before reading your piece, in particular the negative effect on people with situations beyond their control. I have never been a fan of reward based systems in particular for actions/results which are either based, as you say on element of luck, or are simply a basic level of requirement…turn up. There seems to be a necessity to reward behaviours these days rather than simply assuming people will endeavour to do their best in whatever capacity that may be.

  32. Soli Lazarus July 7, 2017 at 6:27 am - Reply

    I teach children with complex needs and I run my own consultancy supporting families of children with special needs. I totally agree with you that 100% attendance shouldn’t be a reason to reward a child. Keep up the good work!

  33. Eileen July 7, 2017 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Sara Grey is spot on with her comment from the teacher’s point of view; the onus cannot be placed on individual children, teachers or schools but successive governments have attempted to do this very thing by forcing them to come up with ever more divisive schemes to keep the statisticians happy.
    I railed against this 100% attendance reward many times in the latter part of my teaching career; yes we had parents who didn’t bother sending their children to school and I have tried to talk round the disenfranchised youngster who was ill on the second day of the school year and told me there was no point in coming the rest of the year (the learning was of little account when compared with a party and goody bag in the Summer term or the chance of winning a bike at each end of term), but school should be about so much more than targets.
    We deny children fun and excitement in learning in favour of achieving Levels. Will any of them remember the level they were at in Year 3 or would they look back fondly on the visits made by a local college orchestra, sports celebrity or puppet show? How much more important are the efforts for the local community- the Sponsored sing involving the whole school in raising money for the children’s hospice or taking food parcels to local elderly residents after the Harvest Festival? Such are memories.
    Whilst I never subscribed to the idea that it is alright to regularly take children out of school in order to capitalise on cheaper holidays or that ‘pulling sickies’ is acceptable, the majority of parents are reasonable and do want to do the best for their children.
    In the early days of my teaching the register was filled in with a diagonal line to show attendance and a circle for an absence- if that absence was for a notified/agreed family holiday an H was placed inside the O and if a note was sent to identify a genuine medical illness or appointment, an M was written. In later years we also added an A for authorised absences for meetings, special or unavoidable family events (such as graduations, prison visits, weddings etc) All of these were classed as known absences, agreed with school, and were counted towards the child’s total attendance. Only when these absences became excessive would the parents be asked to come in for a chat so that school and parents could reach the best possible outcome for the child.
    At that time I cannot remember any child being made to feel uncomfortable or discriminated against because of their attendance by self, peers or teachers- this sadly accelerated though when Ofsted, Attainment Levels and Performance Management targets appeared.
    We should be teaching children to be tolerant and reasonable and that effort and hard work is natural; that a good, happy life is our aim where EVERYONE is valued.

    • Rachel Wright July 7, 2017 at 10:10 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comprehensive and thoughtful response.
      I’m glad you get the heart of my issue with this award.
      Yes, we need to challenge the government, but there are many schools where this is not practiced and still function under the same targets. It can be tackled in a different way.

  34. Andy July 7, 2017 at 10:32 am - Reply

    I’m a teacher. Rewarding students is one of the best things about the job. I understand the points you are making however I think it’s churlish not to reward students who may have made a genuine effort to hit 100% attendance. Lucky or otherwise, the alternative is not to reward anybody – which is unfair to the majority. Once exceptions are made it becomes a free for all where everyone has an excuse. I appreciate that people do have genuine reasons but we have to cater to the majority – the funding simply isn’t there for it to be otherwise.

    Separately to illness situations, those parents who take their children out of lessons to visit a museum or whatnot are incredibly arrogant and selfish. They think nothing of the impact on the teacher who has planned that lesson and who now has to ensure that the missing student catches up. It’s indicative of the view that some parents have where they think that their success in breeding qualifies them to tell teachers how to do their jobs. What a delight they are to us all.

    I will also point out that repeated absence from the workplace would lead to a discussion with HR at the very least.

    • Rachel Wright July 7, 2017 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Yes, some children make an effort for attendance but the majority have no control at all.
      It’s like, at the beginning of the year, telling all the children they will be rewarded if they grow 3cm’s before the end of the summer term. Maybe they’ll eat their greens, maybe they’ll do stretches but really, they can’t control it.
      Let’s find ways of rewarding children for when they make an effort to come to school despite the odds but not judge them on something that is beyond their control.
      In the workplace if you are off for chemotherapy – you won’t be discussing your absence. Some of the stories from parents are saying that in school this can happen.

      • annette July 7, 2017 at 3:03 pm - Reply

        As a former teacher I would dispute your statement that ‘the majority have no control at all’ Quite the opposite in fact. I know there are individual cases where children are off for extended periods of time for legitimate reasons and on the whole a compassionate stance (in my experience) has been taken. However, the odd day here or there for a sniffle or two does not help children to understand what it will be like when they approach the workplace which is surely what we are trying to prepare them for. Also these days soon add up. I sympathise with the lady who says it disrupts learning for the majority. It really does. Also we seem to reward much mediocrity in other ways these days, I find it strange that something that we should be generally striving for isn’t given as much weighting..
        .

    • Jay July 10, 2017 at 6:55 am - Reply

      “…. churlish not to reward students who may have made a genuine effort to hit 100% attendance. Lucky or otherwise, the alternative is not to reward anybody – which is unfair to the majority. Once exceptions are made it becomes a free for all where everyone has an excuse.”

      “They think nothing of the impact on the teacher….”

      “I will also point out that repeated absence from the workplace would lead to a discussion with HR at the very least.”

      Employees have sick days. Employers have to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities or they will be in violation of federal law. It is heart-breaking that Andy, a teacher, is mainly concerned with “cater[ing] to the majority” by awarding the healthy for luck (as if that is not a shallow value) at the expense of compassion for the sick and disabled who are already struggling tremendously (as if that is not a disgraceful trade-off) as well as with the inconvenience to teachers. Because some people cheat, the vulnerable are to pay. It’s the same value judgement some people make in favor of the abolishment Social Security Disability benefits, for example: prioritizing the punishment of cheating parents over including sick and disabled kids.

      The free-for-all talk is so very revealing and painfully indicative of the attitude of some teachers who think they know better than doctors even. There seems to be an assumption among them that *everybody* who claims to be missing school due to illness or disability is lying and going to museums instead. What a cynical and destructive word view!

      This is how toxic the system has become with some teachers and these are the values some of our kids are around 5 days a week. Luckily, not all teachers assume the worst of every child or parent.

      Feeling very grateful to the many compassionate and caring teachers holding down the fort until, hopefully, humanity can take more of a hold again in our schools.

      • David July 15, 2017 at 5:59 pm - Reply

        “The free-for-all talk is so very revealing and painfully indicative of the attitude of some teachers who think they know better than doctors even.”

        So true! It has been many years since I was in school, but I still remember how my school openly defied specific written medical instructions from my doctor (to allow me two extra seconds time to drink at the water fountain!), because as my teacher told me, the school believed that my doctor would be willing to write anything, so long as my parents paid her enough money to do so!

        Who gives schools the authority to overrule doctors and thereby make medical decisions? Isn’t that dangerous as well as illegal?

  35. La Gette R. Potts July 7, 2017 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    You’re an AWESOME Mom and I’m almost in tears. My daughter was/is an AWESOME student (college bound now..woohoo…lol), however sometimes she missed school because she had gotten sick…flu…spider bite…bouts of throwing up because she would be so exhausted coming from her Dad’s house from the weekend( I believe in her getting much needed rest and when she wouldn’t she would be so exhausted that she would just start throwing up for about 2-3 days). Although she received other awards at the end of the year, she wouldn’t get perfect attendance and she would be so sad because she wanted the certificate will all the shooting stars and balloons on it…lol..Mom. I think your post was very good and very well reasoned out. Thank you for such thought provoking conversation. May god continue to shower down His choice blessings on you and those beautiful boys you have…LOVE

  36. Sammi July 7, 2017 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    So much support for this! My son is one of the unfortunate ones who suffers from asthma. Over the winter season, he struggles with chest infections which lands him time off school. This term he has done amazingly to not suffer then suddenly our 9 week old ended up in hospital. We kept him off due to anxiety he was showing over the matter. I’m hoping the school look kindly on this and allow him to receive the award but I doubt it will happen. He is 5 years old and cant understand why he doesn’t get the treat trip, he actually asked me the first time if he had been naughty!! I even offered to pay the money to allow him to attend but this also wasnt allowed. Thankfully we are getting a new head this year who will be scrapping the trips as he feels there is enough pressure on kids already. Wish there were more like this

  37. Juanita July 7, 2017 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you! I have been commenting on this subject, mainly to my husband, I don’t believe in the “perfect attendance award”.
    Children seem to strive for this award more than their grades. And sadly, they will go to school with the sniffles and coughing, exposing children with a lower immune system. One of my grandchildren tried to earn one, and unfortunately missed one day due to a death in the family. In the end, attending the funeral of her favorite great uncle meant more to her than the perfect attendance award.
    I wish the schools would consider a “excellence attendance award”, with only five or less absence days. It is after all what most of us adults have at work.

  38. Peggy Moten-Nair July 7, 2017 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this post. I had never considered or thought about attendance in this manner before. Thank You

  39. Denise July 8, 2017 at 12:39 am - Reply

    I am so pleased you wrote this i actually think it should be band altogether. My grandson has a weak immune system he recovers from his illnesses only to walk back in to another one after returning to school . The reason being children sitting in school who should not be there they are just not well enough. School i s a place to learn socialise and to be happy. It is not a place where children should dread because they do not feel well. or worrying they may have to go to the toilet or they are going to be sick. Schools to some parents have sadly become a childminding service a wrap around care service it should not be like that. It is a school where you go to learn it should never replace home. At the end of the day children should be relieved to be going home.They should not have to hope their parents see how ill they are in the hope they are allowed a day off and if their really lucky actually be cared for. I do know what goes on i worked in as school for twenty one years. Sadly children have to be the best they receive a certificate for 100 percent attendance even though their illnesses throughout the term has made the rest of the class ill.

  40. Pam July 9, 2017 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    I am not a parent (am a RN) who has always questioned this award as being extremely harsh: we actually reward children who come to school sick all so they can get an award. It is an unfair award because children get sick, other children have a chronic illness and these children are being discriminated against. What is even worse is that some schools not only give them a piece of paper but the child receives a trip or a prize which some children just because they have a disability or chronic illness can never hope to get.

    Your letter hopefully will get some serious thinking done by school officials or whoever makes up the school policy.

  41. Jo July 11, 2017 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    I completely agree, and would also add that these rewards discriminate against children from certain religious backgrounds, who need to take time off to observe religious events.
    I have also written an article on this subject. Let me know if you need any help campaigning against it.

  42. […] has written a blog about her concerns which has been viewed on Facebook by more than two-and-half million people, she […]

  43. […] has written a blog about her concerns which has been viewed on Facebook by more than two-and-half million people, she […]

  44. Mia K July 14, 2017 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness! I completely agree with all your reasons. As a child, I always wanted perfect attendance, but I was born with a heath condition and had to see an out-of-town specialist several times a year. The drive took half the day, so I missed school. I always tried to convince my mother not to take me. Basically thinking, “Screw health, I want to be a ‘good kid!'” (And this was a condition for which I’d already had two surgeries plus a long hospital stay partly in ICU). I was so sad every first appointment of the year because I was thinking “Well, there go my chances!” Eventually, I stopped caring and started skipping school or rather, taking mental health days. It just teaches kids the all or nothing thinking of “If I can’t be perfect, it’s not even worth trying.” Not healthy at all.

  45. john July 14, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    I guess I would have been taken to the principal and executed. I had 12 years of perfect attendance, graduating in 1965 from a small rural school with only 20 other students.Ate healthy, played hard,stayed fit. Propelled me into an adult life that was rewarding and successful. J

  46. Christine July 14, 2017 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Totally agree with you! I listened to the awards being given out at my son’s middle school and couldn’t believe this was still a thing. The speech the administrator gave was incredibly tone deaf. She praised the families who made school a priority by coming even if they weren’t feeling well. Interesting is that almost none of the top students had the perfect attendance score.
    I much prefer my son’s perfect grades for 3 years awards, and he could not have done that had he not taken care of himself when he was ill or hurt.

  47. Duane July 15, 2017 at 5:42 am - Reply

    The reward needs to stay for perfect attendance. I was the child with the chronic condition(asthma) which kept me from ever getting a good nights sleep. This made going to school the next day almost impossible at times, but I did it. The only time I ever missed school was when I had scarlet fever. I never missed a day of high school(4 years) and received a paper award and a gold pin. I loved school, that is why I never missed. I had all the excuses necessary to stay home many days, bud did not. This award is one for those students that strive for a long range goal. The goal itself was a motivating factor in my life when I needed that extra boost to get going even when I felt like falling over. Oh, and I did not just pass, I was always in college prep classes with a near 4.0 average.

  48. […] has written a blog about her issues which has been seen on Fb by greater than two-and-half million folks, she […]

  49. Diane Neuman July 15, 2017 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Thank you! Both of my girls are exceptional except their health. Our younger has a progressive disorder. There were weeks she struggled to attend a few days of the week. Not only did that mean no “award” but it despite Drs. notes could trigger automatic truancy court. At high School (she ended up home schooling which was great but wanted the high school experience) despite making it to to school just a couple days a week for all advanced coursework she had close to 100 percent if not more in each course. While other students with lower grades were eligible to skip finals because of attendance, the child who proved she had conquered the material hands down was required to take the final. She was also hauled into the principals office more then once accusing her of skipping school and chewing her out despite Drs. notes and perfect grades. It was a terrible experience overall and not accurate of “real world”. Attendance can also define whether students are eligible for various activities at various schools. The Schools get paid by headcount each day. It is all about money. If you cost them money by your child not going you or your child will be “punished.”

    • David July 16, 2017 at 5:06 pm - Reply

      As a child growing up in the late 1960’s, I had severe allergies and bronchial asthma (and undiagnosed autism). Although I consistently achieved one of the top grades in my class, I was denied several academic awards strictly on the basis of insufficient attendance. Despite having doctor’s notes accounting for every one of my absences, the school often threatened to send a truant officer to our home. However, nobody at the school seemed to be concerned with how difficult it was for me to keep my grades up despite the illnesses. What a warped sense of priorities!

  50. Gorilla July 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    A critique of four reasons:
    1) We don’t reward luck – Apparently, you also don’t teach them to acknowledge or appreciate the good fortune, blessings, and luck that they do have. Count your blessings, my mother would say. If you want to teach them to be thoughtful, generous, and giving to others, depriving them of little moments when they are made to feel special is not the best course.
    2) 100% Attendance Awards demonise the weakest – Where does it say that perfect attendance equates to perfect health? You have the opportunity to praise your child for their resolve, dedication, and commitment to working hard every day; qualities that will carry them through adversity and on to great successes. Instead you want make this a health issue about other people and waste an opportunity to praise and uplift your kids.
    3) He had no control over his 100% attendance – Neither do the kids that go to school sick. Every teacher has seen coughing and contagious kids in class when both parents work and there is no one to stay home with them.
    4) We are taking him out of school for 5 days at the end of term – I may not be up to speed on the current math/maths being taught, but five from anything isn’t 100%, is it?

  51. Serket July 16, 2017 at 1:22 am - Reply

    Here are her 4 excuses (3 lame and 1 okay):

    1) “We don’t reward luck.”
    2) “100% Attendance Awards demonise the weakest.” (should be demonize, but maybe that’s a British spelling)
    3) “He had no control over his 100% attendance.”
    4) “We are taking him out of school for 5 days at the end of term.”

    My responses:

    1 – Being a responsible student or worker is not luck, but demonstrates maturity and commitment.
    2 – No it doesn’t, it rewards the strong and encourages the weak to try harder.
    3 – You are a very selfish woman, taking all of the credit for your child’s work.
    4 – You’re right that he shouldn’t receive a reward if he doesn’t have perfect attendance, but responsible parents should make sure their kids get to class.

    • Rachel Wright July 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      1) Not catching chicken-pox during term time is luck. Determination , maturity and commitment are not factors that make a difference
      2) I’m British – it is spelt correctly. When your brother is severely disabled, can’t sit, walk, talk or eat seeing yourself as stronger and that he needs to ‘try harder’ is NOT a family value we share or encourage.
      3) My child is 10, I physically take him to school. When he is a teenager he will have more control over this – but not yet. That’s not selfish, that is parenting.
      4) In ten years time those 5 days in school would have been forgotten. The past week we had will not – but I do not need to justify this to you. If you would like to have an opinion that is better informed, please read my memoir, The Skies I’m Under
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0993491502

  52. Joe P July 16, 2017 at 4:05 am - Reply

    I am not against what you are saying in this blog. I also never comment on any blog but I feel I had to say something.

    I was a child that was very sick all through elementary and middle school. Regularly missing 40 or more days of school due to multiple lung and breathing issues. The only reason I was not held back was because my mother was a former teacher.

    I am now 41 years old but I still, to this day, remember getting perfect attendance my sophomore year of high school. To me, it meant that I was finally healthy after years of struggles.

    Perfect attendance did not demonize me or my illness. If anything, it gave me something to strive for. A purpose and goal that drove me to listen to what the doctors and my parents told me to do to help myself get better.

    While I can understand why you feel the way you do, please keep in mind that there are unfortunately a lot of kids like I was out there. Kids that want nothing more than to finally have that award they have so longed for.

  53. […] a post on her blog, U.K. mom and author Rachel Wright wrote about the experience and her reasoning behind the […]

  54. […] a post on her blog, U.K. mom and author Rachel Wright wrote about the experience and her reasoning behind the […]

  55. […] a post on her blog, U.K. mom and author Rachel Wright wrote about the experience and her reasoning behind the […]

  56. Carrietoo July 17, 2017 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much Rachel for bringing attention to this. My 9 year old son will be missing summer camp and the first week of school because he is scheduled for 2 weeks of IV antibiotics via a pic line in hospital due to his cystic fibrosis. He would rather be at school – as you say, not all children have the freedom to choose 100% attendance. Thank you also for raising your children to be aware of these challenges – gratitude for what we have and awareness of how lucky we are is the greatest gift we can give our kids. You’re a wonderful Mum – big hugs!

  57. sandy halliburton July 17, 2017 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    don’t know about the uk, but here in the u.s. it is all about money! the schools get a certain amount of money per child per day. your kid stays home, they lose money. i think these attendance rewards are a ploy to get kids to WANT to go to school sick for the reasons noted in these frequent comments. really disgusting.
    on a work note, as an RN myself (icu and cardiology), i was often chastised for staying home when ill. and on evaluation, occasionally would get a mention of lost work absences, even though sick days were one of my benefits and i left the industry with 800 hours of unused sick time! my manager would rather have me come to work, likely infecting the most vulnerable people in our society than use my judgement about when it is proper to NOT come to work! rather than go after the “sick time abusers”, it was carte blanche against all. again, really disgusting!
    kudos to you for teaching your kids a value lesson!

    • Valerie July 21, 2017 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      That’s not quite how it works (in most states, anyway, check yours specifically). There is a count at the beginning of the year. They take attendance for that week and based on THAT they give an allotted amount per child. It isn’t every day all year. Trust me, that isn’t why the teachers at your kids’ school wants them there. They actually want them to learn and it’s real hard when you’re missing lots of days of instruction.

  58. […] a post on her blog, U.K. mom and author Rachel Wright wrote about the experience and her reasoning behind the […]

  59. James Attwood July 17, 2017 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Can you imagine a work place that at the end of each week marked out all the people who hadn’t been sick? Where all the departments with the least number of people off were rewarded – in front of everyone else?

    Can you imagine what kind of atmosphere that would create with people who had days off because of bereavement, mental health problem or chronic conditions?

    This is pretty much par for the course for many jobs out here in Arizona. If you miss a day, for any reason, you will be demonized. If you are so “weak and fragile” as to need a mental health day, you are probably too much of a wack jon to contribute meaningfully to the company and are free to get the hell out. This is all wrong thinking of course, but it is the reality anymore.

  60. […] a post on her blog, U.K. mom and author Rachel Wright wrote about the experience and her reasoning behind the […]

  61. Dawn July 18, 2017 at 12:07 am - Reply

    At last, someone feels the same way I felt when my children were at school! I never felt comfortable about the 100% attendance award, it never seemed fair. Germs spread in stuffy classrooms, especially in the winter time. The awful sickness bug always did it’s rounds along with the other nasty virus’s….and there were the children collecting there 100% attendance awards! …lucky that they had steered clear of the nasty germs…or maybe they had just gone down with it at the weekend instead!!!

  62. Valerie July 18, 2017 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    I agree with regard to being sick and even needing mental health days, my son and I take them. That being said I also work in a school with significant apathy toward attendance and on-time arrival for no particular reason. It snowed a little, so the kids stay home. We live in Colorado, y’all. It’s gonna snow. They “had to clean the house”. What? “Oh I didn’t feel like coming so my mom called me out.” Seriously? These are kids who can, in most cases, not afford to miss class. So I don’t really feel like there is anything wrong with having attendance awards. Sure, I guess if it becomes an unhealthy obsession, then it can be a problem, but that isn’t a situation I’ve ever seen in any school I’ve ever been in.

  63. K. Osborn July 18, 2017 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Thank you Rachel for reminding us all that we should look after each other. It seems to be a crime to be ill in the UK these days. The long-term sick lose their jobs and, if they can’t pay the mortgage/ rent, they lose their homes. We need to find supportive rather than competitive ways of encouraging school attendance. .

  64. Marisa July 18, 2017 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Rachel, I applaud you for writing a post that encouraged a lot of controversial discussion and debate, but as a teacher and as a chronically ill person, I don’t agree with your decision.

    In my opinion, you’re being overly sensitive about the situation and punishing your son for your feelings. The students that don’t receive the perfect attendance award don’t really care at all from what I remember as a child and from what I’ve seen as a teacher. Actually, working at a low-income school, very few students receive the perfect attendance award. So few in fact, that our school has to give out the award quarterly throughout the year because otherwise, no one would receive it at the end of the year. The majority of schools I’ve worked at do this actually. On the other hand, the small number of children that do receive this award really appreciate it, especially if it’s the only award they receive. I remember receiving perfect attendance maybe twice in my entire life, and I was really happy those times. I would never want to deprive a child of feeling happy. I also never felt “demonized” when I did not receive any award.

    Moreover, working at a school where many parents don’t prioritize education, giving out the perfect attendance award is a way to motivate more students to attend school. No, it does not often reach those chronically late or absent students, but it does make a difference if students are on the borderline or know they’re in the running for an award. Missing even a single day’s worth of lessons can make a difference in a child’s education, and I think schools should encourage students to be present and on-time. I don’t know about early childhood, but as a middle school teacher, once most 12-year-olds feel sick, it’s not worth it to them to stay in school. I’ve never heard of children begging to go to or to stay in school when they were sick. I’ve only seen children begging for food or clothing because they can’t get them at home.

    Perfect attendance awards also get children ready for life in the real world when they have a job. Adults, especially in my profession, are very discouraged from taking any days off, even if they are ill. When I catch a cold, it’s typically because one of my annoying coworkers insisted on coming to work sick, not my students. In some of my workplaces, I have witnessed the staff being rewarded (and punished!) even more than the students for their attendance. My supervisor once publicly announced latenesses and absences in a department meeting for every teacher to hear. In a comment above, you wrote, “In the workplace if you are off for chemotherapy – you won’t be discussing your absence.” That is simply not true. I have taken FMLA twice in my life. I have also taken days off here and there for mental health reasons or for severe migraines. Many times when I attempted to leave work early with a severe migraine, my supervisor and HR director would try to stop me and guilt me into staying, even though I still had sick days remaining. Additionally, the second time I took FMLA, I was not welcomed back and was treated very differently and even unfairly by administrators and HR upon my return. Even though I had always been an excellent employee, I was chastised for taking the time I needed off for my health and well-being. So in reality, it’s unfortunate, but the real world does care about perfect attendance.

    • Valerie July 21, 2017 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      I am a middle school SLP (high poverty as well) and totally agree.

    • Jennifer July 24, 2017 at 5:27 pm - Reply

      Many good points made in this response. It’s interesting how the blog writer picks and chooses who she responds to. Anyone with a valid argument seems to be ignored!

      • Rachel Wright July 24, 2017 at 5:40 pm - Reply

        She does make good points. I didn’t feel the need to defend myself. I think having a good opposite opinion is good.

        However, I am trying to get kids ready for bed and bath time and computers don’t mix.

  65. […] Source: Born at the Right Time […]

  66. […] has written a blog about her issues which has been considered on Fb by greater than two-and-half million individuals, […]

  67. Jennifer July 19, 2017 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    A few years ago my son received a gold certificate for 100% attendance at his primary school but really all that meant was that he was present for every registration. He had in fact missed part of the school day on a handful of occasions having attended hospital appointments. The same year, my daughter at the same primary school, received a silver attendance certificate as she had only attended 99.9% of the time as she missed one registration as I had taken her for a 10 minute doctor appointment. I highlighted the unfairness of the system to the headteacher. I also pointed out that the school had a policy that for certain illnesses children should be kept at home for 24 hours. How could the school have this policy and at the same time tell children that this isn’t “good” behaviour? Finally, I asked the headteacher what colour “attendance” reward the school should get? The school is a polling station so had that year, been shut for elections as well as for severe weather (it snowed slightly) and teachers had a day of strike. I suggested that the school itself would not even get a bronze award from parents. I believe attendance awards were relaxed the following year!

  68. […] just came across a post titled: “Why my son won’t be accepting his 100% attendance award.” When I read the title, I swear my eyes rolled so hard that I could see the back of my skull. […]

  69. […] Which highlights Wright’s most important point about perfect-attendance awards. From her blog: […]

  70. Paul Stilwell July 22, 2017 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    I disagree with the mom from this viewpoint. Luck is certainly a component of this achievement, but only a component. Look at the number of parents who don’t value their child’s education as much, and pull them out of school to have or extend a vacation. I have personally witnessed kids (high school ages) where they lined up at ridiculous times in the AM for a new video game release, with the intent of playing it all day once they purchased it. Or the kid who talks their way out of school where it is an activity they don’t wish to attend (track & field day, field trip, substitute teacher etc etc). I agree sick children should not be attending, and it is the luck of the draw TO SOME DEGREE, but work ethic, the A.R. gene and so many other factors go into this, I feel it creates a lack of appreciation for that effort, and perhaps devalues it in the child’s mind. There are far too many people in this day and age who don’t understand the concept of work ethic. Reward the child for the right reasons within the concepts of the perfect attendance you can relate to, and teach him about the concepts you don’t feel are justified. This way, I think it will impart the proper values, while showing a level of compassion in those who don’t make this level of achievement.

    • Rachel Wright July 22, 2017 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      We did reward what we valued. We took him to the same play centre with friends who didn’t get 100% attendance because they had been sick and celebrated persistence, resilience and working hard – even when you don’t feel like it. Most importantly we celebrated equity over equality.

  71. Greg Scavezze July 22, 2017 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    So do we not give out academic awards either because there is A LOT of imbalance from child to child as far as that goes.Two working parents in some homes vs. people that have the kid’s full time nanny helping them in others. Look life is what it is. Getting a kid to school every day is an accomplishment for both the parents and the kid. I think this whole thing is making a big deal out of nothing Pick it it up or don’t who cares? I’m not going to bag on reinforcing good behavior though.

    • Rachel Wright July 22, 2017 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on something so frivolous. Life is what it is until we change it and make a little bit fairer, a little more equitable with values that we cherish. I can’t make the world like that but I can make my home like that. All I did was tell you about it. Take it or leave it. But if you want to be better informed as to where this decision came from check out the other side of the coin and read, The Skies I’m Under.https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0993491502

  72. Don Turnbull July 22, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    We have three older boys in our family (21, 17, and 15). None of them have ever been eligible for such a reward mostly by design. I remember never being in the running fo rthis nonsense when I was in school. I always thought is silly. Until 11th grade, my choice played no part in whether I was present or not and starting in 11th grade, my choice was usually not if I could swing it without hurting my grades.

    So, we made the choice to let our kids choose to take a day or two off each semester. It had to be a day where there were no tests, no practices, and they had to be current on all homework. If they failed to make up any missed homework, they wouldn’t be allowed another “mental-health day” until that was resolved.

    My kids have no special challenges or conditions. Many have told me how terrible this decision was and how it was inexcusable to allow them to skip school on occasion. People are entitled to their opinions. For us, it meant that the kids had a way to handle the stress of what is a far more competitive school environment then when I was young in the ’70’s and ’80’s. The kids are no worse for the practice.

    If asked, we would explain that we felt it was important for the kids to know when to take a step back and reset some. I would also agree with the author’s points that these attendance awards are unfair and hurtful to many. I would rather have my kids see that than get the minor and temporary benefit of good fortune.

    Well done Mrs Wright.

  73. Chris July 22, 2017 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    I really appreciate this mother’s stance on attendance. I think rewarding attendance encourages people to send their children to school sick. Being a good member of society includes respecting other people enough to stay home when you are ill with a communicable disease.

  74. S. Mueller July 24, 2017 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Wow Mom. I used to teach kids. No one who was sick was shamed, ever. We didn’t want sick kids in the classroom. The reality, however, is that most children were not absent because they were sick, they were absent because they told Mom or Dad they didn’t feel like going to school, they were going on vacation, Mom wanted to take them shopping, they didn’t finish their special project, etc. etc. I lived near the school I taught in. I usually walked home after school and would often see the kids who had been out “sick” that day, outside playing or hanging out! I would ask the child, (or parent, if he or she was there), “Why weren’t you in school today?” and, having caught them off guard, they clearly couldn’t say, “I was sick” so I’d get the real answer, “I didn’t want to get up” or “We had to go pick up our new sofa”… you name it. Yes, perfect attendance should be celebrated. It’s an achievement of both parents and kids. As to taking your kids out of school the week before school ends, my question to you is, what kind of school do you go to that they watch movies and play games at the end of the school year? The last week of school was as important to me, as a hard-working teacher, as any other week. In fact, we did a great deal of meaningful and important lessons in our last week of school. In the US, it’s against the law to remove a child from school without a good reason and it can be reported to Child Protective Services. Removing a child from school to take the kids on vacation in Italy? Even for the reason you’ve stated, that you have difficulty getting care for a special needs child, this is still vacation and vacation should not trump school. It’s a really bad lesson you’re teaching your children. When they get to college, they’ll be making decisions about whether or not to attend class based on what you’re teaching them now. I’m sad that taking a week off school to take vacation was sanctioned by the administrators at your school, but since they only watch movies and play games at your school in the last week, maybe it’s not surprising.

    • Rachel Wright July 24, 2017 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      Teacher, Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      In the past week my son’s education has been extensive. He has a comprehensive history lesson walking round Pompeii. He studied Geography of Volcanoes and land formations by taking a boat ride into caves. He read several books. He did maths using fractions in cutting pizza, working out tips rates and checking bills in restaurants. He attempted to learn a new language. In science, he studied the wildlife and fauna of Italian countryside and snorkelled – identifying species at the end of each day. But most importantly he had quality time with his family and made memories that will last a life-time. In ten years time that week in school would have been long forgotten, the past week in Italy will not.

      My son goes to a good school and that is why they gave permission to have the week off. They recognise the bigger picture in life.

      I’m not sure what kind of school you taught in, but in my son’s schools, most children are absent because they are genuinely sick – not waiting for a sofa to be delivered.

      I completely agree that attendance needs to be tackled. I agree that some families choose to skip school for seemingly frivolous reasons but what I disagree with, is that 100% attendance awards in any way prevent these families from making such decisions. 100% attendance awards do not provide an appropriate incentive, instead they prevent children who do try to get to school EVERY DAY from being rewarded because they caught chicken pox in term time.

      • Jennifer July 24, 2017 at 7:42 pm - Reply

        I missed a week of school every year of my school life. I went to school abroad and I used to miss a week every year as I was in the UK on holiday with my family. I have not been adversely affected at all, the opposite is true. I cherish those memories especially now that my parents are no longer around.
        Rachel, your Italian holiday sounds brilliant … I hope your son also ate lots of gelato!
        PS There are 2 Jennifer’s leaving comments … I am the one in agreement with you!

  75. r tramison July 24, 2017 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Schools in the Y. S. o it because of ADA – Average Daily Attendance. Each school gets paid x amount of money per day for each child that is in attendance for x number of hours per day. To encourage children to attend daily, rewards are given

  76. Sky July 24, 2017 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I applaud this. These awards/certificates were in place when I was in secondary school and they always made me feel awful. The school I went to was miles away from home and so I would be driven in by my father. On a regular basis I was late by a few minutes, so despite attending school every day, I wouldn’t get these certificates which gave the distinct impression that you cared far more about your own education than other people.

    Sometimes we were late because my father, a fire officer, would stop to attend an accident and perhaps save someone’s life, but rather than being proud as I perhaps should have been, I hated it. My identity was built around excelling academically and this attendence certificate was linked in with that. It was a terrible thing to feel that you never had a chance to be considered for an award because of something entirely out of your control.

  77. […] a post on her blog, U.K. mom and author Rachel Wright wrote about the experience and her reasoning behind the […]

  78. […] a post on her blog, U.K. mom and author Rachel Wright wrote about the experience and her reasoning behind the […]

  79. […] the end of June I posted why we wouldn’t be letting our middle son attend his 100% attendance reward to a soft play […]

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