The Parents Union have prepared a statement for schools that parents can download, print out and give to their schools. In it are a number of points we first outlined in our post opposing East Sussex Council’s Get a Grip campaign.
It identifies five key misconceptions:
- That every day in school impacts attainment. Although there is a clear correlation in the data between attendance and attainment, there is very little evidence of causation. In fact, in some cases there is evidence of higher exam results and certain kinds of absence.
- That the Supreme Court ruling on the Jon Platt case means that children must be in schools at all times. The ruling did not change headteachers’ use of discretion in the authorisation of absence. And it is not illegal to be ill.
- That schools can ask for medical evidence for all absence due to illness. But government guidelines state that schools should authorise absences due to illness unless they have genuine causes for concern.
- That Ofsted mandates schools to take a hard line. But Ofsted actually says that it “makes no recommendations about the manner in which schools should promote and secure good attendance and puncuality”.
- That attendance awards are wholly good. They skew the data on attendance levels, in that a 100% attendance level will not reflect the child’s needs if, for example, they have a medical condition that means they cannot have 100% attendance.
The statement asks that schools will assess their attendance policy in light of this information and make changes if appropriate.