Time off school?? educational welfare??

Hello again!!

Sorry in advance if this turns out to be wingey but I am very fed up!! I have just applied to my daughters school to get 8 days off school - the last 8 days of the school term in July. (this is the only time my parents villa is available to us and as it is FREE our only option for a holiday!!!) Sophie has not been too well this winter but thankfully no hospital visits. I have had one daughters holiday authorised (100% attendance) but as Sophies is only 79% they won't authorise it and have told me educational welfare may need to be involved as her attendance is too low. I have spoken to the head and asked what else they expect me to do??? I have asked them if they want to take responsibility for 2 hourly checks on her oxygen levels but funnily enough they declined!! The best comment was ..... we must work together to resolve the problem.... well if they have a cure for asthma I'm sure everyone would love to know!!! Perhaps this school has handled it badly and I know they have to work within government guidelines but does anyone know if children with chronic illnesses can be exempted from their attendance stats?? We can prove her attacks/doctors/consultants visits and meds but to be honest I am cross that I have to. (plus it is £40 from my docs!)

Sorry again for moaning... thanks for listening!!

Tina

6 Replies

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  • Hi Tina

    I have had alot of support from my sons school regarding his asthma and having time off. But as soon as his attendance dropped below 80% at the end of last term I spoke to the education welfare officer about our situation before the school had a chance to. Jaydens attendance so far this year has now dropped to 65% after 4 admissions this term. I was informed by the EWO that no matter how upset the school may get they cannot do anything as he has a long term health condition. After Jayden was taken to hospital from a PE lesson at school a few weeks ago we have had a meeting with the school including the head teacher and our community asthma nurse to put a plan in place so Jay is 'safe' at school. By the end of the meeting the general consus was if he is not well we would rather he was not in school as he is scaring us a little bit!

    My advice is to speak to the EWO as soon as possible to explain your situation. I usually take the last week off before the summer as it is the only time we can afford to go away but decided not to push my luck this year with the amount of time Jayden has already missed. Perhaps you could arrange a meeting at the school to fully explain about Sophies asthma - alot of people do not understand how hard it can be to deal with difficult asthma that does not always respond to a couple of puffs of an inhaler.

    We are having problems with the school expecting Jay to manage his asthma appropriately in school. Despite being asked to monitor his condition as he does not always notice he is struggling until it is really bad and making sure he takes his inhaler before exercise and at break times they still mostly leave it up to him then freak when he can't breathe and call an ambulance.

    I wonder if my child was diabetic if they would pay a bit more attention. You never know!

  • Hi thanks for your reply. I think that is good advice and well worth taking the initiative! Your comment about managing at school is definitely familiar! but as with your son Sophie doesn't seem to realise how bad she is getting! Unfortunately holiday is all booked but IF her hayfever doesn't affect her asthma too much she may pick up on attendance later in the year :) Our school has a policy to put photos of children in each classroom with medical conditions (ie nut allergies/diabetes) it does NOT extend to children with asthma so that says a lot doesn't it!!

    Thanks again for the advice and will give the school a ring.

    Tina

  • Hi Tina,

    Sorry to hear about Sophie's problems.

    The inherrent problem with EWOs is that once they reveiw the registers - dependingonthe school can be weekly or half-termly - the wheels tend to be put in motion regardless...

    Often the EWO will merely make a note of the illnesses etc and that would be it. If the absence was extensive - couldn't tell you what percentage this would kick in...then they may possibly get confirmation of the illnesses.

    Part of the problem facing the EWO is that there are parents of children who keep them at home as soon as they sneeze...which ultimately make it harder on the parents who have little choice but to have theirs at home due to more serious illness. If the EWO and school were not seen to be tackling pupil attendance targets they get another wrap on the knuckles and most schools have attendance targets that are pretty challenging!

    As the other poster suggested, I too would be proactive, make appointments with EWO, school, school nurse etc, so that you can explain the circumstances rather than feeling as though you are being accused/judged!

    As for the school's understanding of asthma - this is pretty much a nationwide problem, even in schools with asthmatic teachers... When the children are younger - and tbh often this means in Reception or year One, then an adult is more likely to intervene with meds etc after that they are on their own...often with medication in different parts of the building. Many adults whomaybe first aid trained do not really know how to gauge the signs of the severity of attack and fail to even understand that a hacking constant cough is part of it!

    I dread to think that as more and more children are asthmatic, spending over a quarter of their day at school, eventually there will be some awful headlines about schools and asthmatics...

    In fairness to teachers they have so much going on, so many more demands made on them than in the past, that the relaity is that if your child is going through a rought time in terms of asthma i reckon they are probably beyter off outside of the education system!

    Sorry to be so pessimistic...

  • Thanks for your reply and the advice. I will speak again to the school after half-term just to clarify everything with them. Soph has been ill again this week (thank god for half term!!) and is currently on antibiotics.

    As you say the school has many pupils and rules etc to deal with and I certainly don't expect them to be able to single out Sophie for special care and that said I then DO expect them to realise I can't send her in if she is ill. Part of the problem is she has very few outward symptoms - she doesn't wheeze and recently when she is bad she doesn't cough - just gets very tight chested and her oxygen levels fall quickly. A teacher would never notice in a class of 32 that she is quieter than normal!! I think more conversation with the school is definately what I need to do. The school is very large (750 in yr4-7) and the head can't be expected to know all those kids!!

    Thanks again for the advice and it def. makes me feel more confident that I am doing the right thing.

  • Tina, just a quick thought if you daughter needs someone to keep an eye on her sats etc 2 hourly the school can get extra funding for someone to be shown how to read a Sats monitor a plan can then be drawn up for what to do if they are at certain levels. When my son was younger he needed to have a neb twice a day a school, he had a statement and the school had extra funding for someone to sit with him and obviously to be trained in using the machine and doing a pre and post PF with him. My 14 year old now has a statement and someone goes with him to make sure he puts is eczema creams on properly the school get funding for that. Many schools get extra help for children with medical conditions. With the support of your daughters consultant you should be able to put something in place. With regard to welfare it might be a blessing in disguise you can ask your daughters consultant to explain there are times when she needs her SATS checked on a regular basis but could be in school and again that will put pressure on them to put something in place for her.

    Bex

  • Hi,

    my heart goes out to you..... Fancy saying that they will get the educational welfare officer involved..... Do they not think that it is bad enough looking after a child with Asthma without the additional worry of having educational welfare on the case.... I dont think that you are winghing I am absolutely beside myself as on wednesday I have to be at my sons school for a meeting of poor attendance..... What are you supposed to do you cant take them to school blue..... Keep intouch and hope you get in sorted out.......

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