The Importance of Attendance
If you read any news articles on education, correspondence from your child’s school, or are simply clued up on parenting then you will know the importance of school attendance.
Schools place a great deal of focus on targets and will often offer incentives and competitions to encourage and increase attendance figures, but what if your child has a serious illness. What happens if they really are not well enough to attend school. What happens then?
Attendance targets at Ryan's school are currently set at 95% attendance for the school year. Therefore realistically your child can only miss 10 school days due to illness. Medical appointments such as GP or Dentist do not count, but you are encouraged to make these appointments outside of the school day where feasibly possible.
If your child consistently misses school, even if it is only one day a week, that equates to 39 days over the school year. Even missing one day in a week results in pressure on the pupil to catch up on missed work. If absences become a regular occurrence the pupil will face mounting pressure to play catchup and will struggle to follow along in class having missed the previous teaching.
This struggle becomes increasingly prevalent in the build-up to and during the critical exam season of GCSEs and A levels. Ryan never got to start in year 10. Ryan should have been sitting his first set of GCSE exams. Ryan has not attended school for any of year 10. He was diagnosed with lymphoma during the summer holiday break of 2016.
Ryan, I am sure will be the first to admit to you that he has never much-enjoyed school. This is partly due to his Autism and partly due to being a typical boy that would rather spend all day every day on his PC gaming or coding if the world and I let him.
He had chosen his options whilst in year 9 and was at least looking forward to being able to drop the less desirable subjects and pick the choices he could tolerate best, but his cruel twist of fate has meant he hasn't been able to even do that.
We were given two options for Ryan to return to school in September 2017. He has missed too much work to be able to sit his GCSE exams with the rest of his peer group. We had two options available to us.
- Be put back a year.
- Stay with his year group, but only attend part-time for English and Maths lessons.
We have hopefully reached a compromise where we have agreed with the school that Ryan will stay with his current peer group of friends and go into year 11. We felt this the better option due to his severe anxiety as he is Autistic. It has taken many years to form the very small friendship group that he has and to lose that would be incredibly detrimental to his already fragile mental health.
If your child can’t go to school.
If your child is unable to attend school because of illness or injury, your school and local council should provide support to make sure their education doesn’t suffer.
The school should:
- let the local council know if your child is likely to be away from school for more than 15 school days.
- give the local council information about your child’s needs, capabilities and the programme of work.
- help them reintegrate at school when they return.
- make sure they’re kept informed about school events and clubs.
- encourage them to stay in contact with other pupils, eg through visits or videos.
The local council’s role:
If your child’s going to be away for a long time, the local council will make sure they get as normal an education as possible. This could include arranging:
- home teaching
- a hospital school or teaching service
- a combination of home and hospital teaching
The local council must make sure your child continues to get a full-time education - unless part-time is better for their health needs.
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