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 of 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.
But most importantly these kinds of rewards are not fit for purpose.
They don’t support struggling families. They aren’t going to persuade a parent (or child that its worth skipping that term-time trip to Disney. Attendance rewards are so much more toxic then helpful. If we can’t get this right, what hope do we have of seeing a change in our public policy which supports the disabled rather than isolating them.
There are many creative ways schools can tackle non-genuine absence 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. He will have a blast, be spoilt rotten and much prefer staying home with his routine. It isn’t how we imagine a family holiday but it is sadly what is needed for us. Loving a child with a life-limiting condition means we know how life is short – we all only get one chance to live it well.
Original post July 2017.
Since the post went viral, I have appeared on Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show, BBC local radio, national and international newspapers and blogs.
At the heart of my disdain for 100% attendance awards is their underlying toxic message that strong is good, healthy is best, sickness and fragility should be avoided, minimalised and marginalised. I want to be part of a society which is #bridgingthegap between those with disabilities and their community based on value not pity.
Through my work as Founder of Born at the Right Time, I am #bridgingthegap for families of children with complex needs through training professionals in effective communication and co-production with relatives and carers.