My younger son has had 10 days off sick in year 8. Specifically, he has had 10 days off sick in the spring term of year 8. And I don’t know how I feel about that.
Because my kids have good school attendance. Just like I used to have good attendance at work. My kids often got 100% attendance at primary school. My son has had as much time off in year 8 as he had off in the whole of primary school. That doesn’t feel right to me.
Because I’m a good parent and my kids are good kids. We follow the rules. The rules say you should go to school every day. The rules say good attendance means good education and good achievement. Bad attendance means bad education and bad achievement.
And then I remember. It couldn’t be helped.
He was ill. He wasn’t well enough to go to school. He could barely walk around the house. He certainly couldn’t walk around school and sit through lessons. Plus, being at school would mean he would pass his nasty illnesses on to others.
He had four days off with a virus in January. Then one day off when he had a headache and was struggling with rugby injuries in March (now I really, really wish he hadn’t had that particular day off). And five days off in March with another nasty virus.
The message from schools is that attendance above 96% is what ensures the best results. Attendance of between 90 and 95% means a child’s education will suffer. On his last day off sick, my son’s attendance stood at 91.3%. It is starting to creep up now, but very, very slowly. If he doesn’t have any more time off this year it will just get back to 95%.
My eldest’s school is very strict on attendance. Kids have to attend special ‘clubs’ if their attendance slips. I get that there are kids who play truant or whose families have a poor attitude to education. They should attend the clubs. But kids who’ve been ill through no fault of their own have to attend too.
I’m impressed that my younger son’s school didn’t chase us up over his attendance. They have accepted that, while unlucky, it is perfectly possible for an otherwise healthy 13 year old boy to get two bad viruses in the space of a term.
So I’m going to change my mindset and stop beating myself up. I am a good mum and my kids are good kids. Certainly my son’s most recent report and parents’ evening don’t give me any cause for concern. This kid can already achieve top GCSE grades in year 8.
So if my good kids need time off because they’re ill, this good mum is going to let them and sod the attendance figures!