Mother brands Littlehampton school attendance policy '˜ridiculous'

A mother has been left feeling '˜inadequate' after receiving a letter which said her daughter's 95.5 per cent school attendance record needed improving.

Kim Queally with her daughter Mia
Kim Queally with her daughter Mia

Kim Queally, of Greenfields, Wick, was asked to set up a meeting with a teacher at White Meadows Primary Academy to address six-year-old Mia’s attendance.

The catering assistant said she thought the record was ‘quite good’ and said it was ‘ridiculous’ and ‘bizarre’ to consider it a reason for concern.

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She said: “The fact that I have received such a laughable, over-dramatised letter is shocking.

“I give everything I have to make sure Mia is at school every day. I feel that it reflects on me.

“It makes me feel inadequate. It feels like a kick in the gut.”

When Ms Queally examined the attendance record, she saw that Mia’s days off consisted of three two-day absences over the year.

These were due to the 48-hour exclusion after sickness rule, she said, which advises parents to keep children away from school for a period of time after vomiting or diarrhoea.

While she said she ‘absolutely’ agrees’ with the policy, Ms Queally said: “I don’t quite understand how they can insist you don’t take children to school within 48 hours but then penalise you on the statistics.”

If it were not for the rule, Mia’s attendance would have been 100 per cent, she said.

Ms Queally said there had been ‘uproar’ among parents in the same situation.

She believes the recording of absences should be changed to take the 48 hour sickness rule into account.

Luisa Gould, executive headteacher, and Yvonne Kidd, headteacher at the academy, said in statement that the school’s attendance policy had been updated in April so that it reflected the new government target of 96 per cent attendance.

The school will now issue a letter to parents and carers when attendance falls below this level.

They acknowledged parents might find it ‘frustrating’ but said the school was ‘merely following the expectations stipulated by the Government’.

While the 48-hour rule ‘may appear to contradict’ the attendance policy, the rule helps to contain the spread of the illness, they said.

“While sickness is classed as an authorised absence, according to government policy it must still be reflected in the child’s overall percentage of attendance,” they said.