Missing time off school :(


I haven't posted for a while but I'm having such trouble with my daughters school and not sure where to turn.

My daughter just turned 5 she started school in September and they were fully aware before starting that she was a brittle asthmatic as her older sister has missed time off school due to her being hospitalised.

In the last 4 weeks she has only attended school for 3 days, had two hospital admissions, three courses of antibiotics and 5 courses of pred needing to be on three hourly nebulisers at home. For the third time since starting the school the head has requested I meet with her regarding my daughters attendance and to be honest I'm at my wits end.

I already had to get the brompton to write to the head as they have a ' every child must go outside at playtime policy' which meant on days I knew the weather would trigger her asthma I was reluctant to send her in after pervious episodes of her being sent out and ending up in hospital later that night. She is well enough to be in school just not well enough to be out a break times when the weather is problematic to her asthma - when I mentioned this to the school they said every child must go out as teachers need a break from the kids! Wasn't the response I was expecting that's for sure :(

They've also said to me that other children have asthma and don't miss time off school like she does - again one of the asthma nurses at the brompton called and spoke directly to the head and explained the different types of asthma and how they effect each child.

I've spoken directly to the educational welfare officer who is completely understanding of my situation but the school just seem to be keeping on - if this is what it's like in her first year I hate to think what's its going to be like when she's older.

The last time I saw the head she wanted me to say I'd endeavour to make sure she attends school - now I still have to drop my older daughter off so not like we're all at home having a party so find her comments insulting to say the least. She's wasting mine and her own time by getting me to meet with her saying the same things and her just not listening - now whilst I appreciate league tables and all that jazz surely they must have some system for poorly children? Any info on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

She currently takes seritide 50mg 5 x twice a day, montelukast, omeprozole and citirizine daily and salbutamol, atrovent inhalers as well as salbutamol nebs when needed. She's under the royal brompton as well as our local hospital

10 Replies

  • oh my word what a terrible situation the school are putting you in!! They should have the welfare of the child at heart, and if they are consistently wanting you to put your child at risk of severe harm, then I would consider this a safeguarding issue. Child protection doesnt just apply to parents... if the RBH arent getting anywhere with the school, I would seriously consider writing down all the conversations that have been had with the school, including conversations RBH have had with them, keep a log of incidents where they are risking her health (or wanting you to) and contact social services, explaining that the school are consistently placing your child at risk of harm despite all the information you have given them. Or Ofstead, or the local education authority. The school are putting their own needs above the individual and somewhat specialist needs of your daughter, and its simply not acceptable.

    Dont let them beat you down, YOU know what your child needs.

  • I would suggest that you contact the school medical officer. When my daughter was ill (not asthma) we had so many problems with school- despite a consultant's letter- until the medical officer got involved. We all had a meeting and he stated ""this child is too ill to come to school"". School then had no choice, but to follow his advice as education has to follow medical advice in this context. Things then started to improve and she had home tuition until she got better. Best Wishes.

  • Hi

    I feel really sorry for you all, I have been through this several times over school attendance, as recently as yesterday. If you feel you are being harrassed which it sounds to me like you are, have you written to the chair of governors? You may have no option but to put in a formal complaint.

    For my daughter the Consultant suggested that she was missing school because of my anxiety,(she had met me twice at this point) but the school nurse was brilliant, she was totally on side at the meeting with the Head, Education Welfare & myself and asked pointed questions about why certain things weren't being done, including a care plan. Since then there is a care plan and school seem to accept it a bit more.

    I wish you good luck as I suspect you may have an uphill struggle. Heads get very steamed up about attendance targets, next time you daughter is admitted why not get the Head to come & visit you in hospital.

    Good luck

  • What an awful situation, you would think a school would at least understand asthma is different for every child. That attitude isn't far different from the naive people who think controlling asthma is as simple as taking an inhaler. I would be absolutely fuming, no one wants their child off school missing out on their education unless its absolutely necessary. Sorry I can't offer any advice I haven't been in this situation (yet).

    A bit off topic from your question but how have you found the RBH? My son is about to be referred there for his asthma as his consultant at our local hospital is concerned why it can't be controlled.

    Jenny x

  • That's appauling. What looks worse, having a pupil with poor attendance, or having a pupil become dangerously ill because they were not allowed to stay home! If they need a break from pupils, to the point that a childs life is put in danger in order for them to have this break then they are in the wrong job. Even if they do need a break, they should let your daughter sit in a classroom with a teacher that changes every ten minutes - then they all get about 50mins break and your daughter can be in school. I'd make sure you mention to the Head that the more he criticises your daughters attendance, the less likely you are to send her in as you dont want someone not ringing 999 when needed in order to keep her in school.I had a meeting to discuss my attendance, i said i would try to go in whenever i could, next day went to my philosophy seminar and really scared the tutor, was turning a lovely blue colour by the time the paramedics got there and he looked completely terrified. Needless to say my attendance has never been questioned again! Im sure if you took her in when she couldnt breathe and was needing frequent nebs and stuff they wouldnt want her to come - its a shame that it would be hard to do. Could you maybe ask her Head/Teacher to drop off some work on a day she is really ill (arrange them to be there at the time of a neb treatment) and they can see for themselves that she really cant be in school. Try to make it their problem, ""what are YOU doing to ensure that the school environment is safer for my child?"" if they are asking you to put your childs life in danger, then the least they can do is ask a paid member of staff to sit with her over lunch!

    I think the easiest plan is to get the medical officer involved. fingers crossed for you!

  • Hi, i'm in the same boat as your daughter (but in sixth form)

    it is a nightmare, but once the school is on board they can be brilliant (mine are not)

    i wasnt even allowed to attend hospital appointments at one stage (i'm at the brompton and guys)

    but i know this might be a bit far thinking but things like changing for PE (the deodorant and perfume), extra time in exams, ways of sending and receiving work (if your school they dont have an email system they're lying).

    though i found my school changed their tune a bit when they demanded that i came in (they thought i was just being lazy) and i got very sick. i can assure the only thing Head teachers hate more than poor attendance is rapid response cars and ambulances pulling up at the front of the school (the look on my Head of sixthforms face when i turned started to turn a bit blue was utterly priceless). this rivals with shirty call from the ICU consultant to my headmistress.

    but i like the idea of getting the headmistress to visit your daughter in hospital.

    but you are doing everything right, and don't back down to them!

    and good luck :)

    *soph, are you at uni? i was hoping that it would be a more supportive environment

  • sarah93 - heh! such similar experiences :-) my sixth form were really great with me coz my form tutor was really great and yelled at the attendance officer if she was ever dodgy with me! She even really thought about trips i went on and arranged taxis for me if most people were walking and it might have caused me issues! why cant everyone be like that!?! it makes such a difference!

    one person from my uni refused to ring 999 for me (we have a system where paramedics have to be met by security so they can find us, so we have to ring by going through security. Lets just say they got really badly told off by my asthma nurse who asked them why they were trying to kill students!!! so funny!

  • I don't really have anything constructive to say to help, but I just wanted to say that I think you're coping brilliantly with these, well, ill-educated people you're having to deal with, and I'd like to add my encouragement to all the other responses you have had. Although I'm not in your situation your daughter sounds like she is having the same problems I had from my first days at school throughout the whole system, I'm 27 now and I so hoped that 22 years on would have seen a greater change, sadly no, but I do not think you or your daughter will have to have a whole schooling experience like I had, you just make sure you stick by what you know, you're the one with the knowledge, the support of the hospital and the changing attitudes on your side (even if the latter is slow going) I wish there was something more that could be done to help your little one set out into the exciting world of growing and learning. I don't know maybe you could get permission off the people in these responses and others to use their words as supporting statements to show how the positive and negative attitudes from the teaching staff affected their schooling experience, it might help the school understand how other people and places have dealt with helping certain needs of their individual pupils.

    The thing is your daughter will just accept what's going on with her because that's all she knows, and her classmates will just accept and carry on because that's all they know, as long as she's happy, as long as she's able to make friends and enjoy life then that's all that matters, but if the school continues to put the pressure on, almost alienate her by accusing you or her of goodness knows what (heaven forbid that be putting the needs of your daughter first!!) then they run the risk of ruining the good things like having friends, feeling normal, fitting in and enjoying being a 5 year old.

    When you count up all the time I missed from school it works out at 4 school years out of the compulsory 12 school years we have to do, but it didn't harm my education, I got good GCSE's, A-Levels, BTEC ND and I graduated with a 2:1 hons degree from uni, but the most important thing through school/college/uni for me was making friends and my friends and I together learning how to deal with the great big wide world.

    Keep asking for help from those that understand you're not alone fighting ""the man"" heehe!


  • I really feel your pain with this. It's soo frustrating as not only are you dealing with a brittle asthmatic, which is horrible, you are having to fight professionals!!

    I've had similar ignorance from my eldest daughters last school. She is 7 now but wen she started school there was no understanding with regards to her asthma. She is on exactly the same meds as your daughter. I was even asked by the head for a letter from the GP to allow her to have Salbutamol when needed as he felt ""a lot of parents give meds needlessly""!! I was fuming!!

    The school would refuse her inhalers when she needed, and she too would end up on nebs in hospital later that evening!!

    In the end, I got our community respiratory nurse to go and do an after school inset session on asthma. Her opening line was 'children have died in schools of asthma'!! The staff had been ignorant!! They had no idea of the differing levels of Asthma!!

    They improved but I just couldn't trust them with my daughter then and that is a huge issue when you drop a child off into someone else's care. She has now started a new school. They are so aware!! They call me if concerned and we manage her asthma in a partnership approach. It's made such a difference.

    Her attendance had been a real issue too, at only 75% in the Autumn term. Most was due to her Asthma but I admit some of those occasions she could have managed school providing their care had of been appropriate..it wasn't so I kept her home when I was concerned!! Her attendance is finally creeping up now.

    I now feel that when my youngest daughter starts school in sept, I may be able to feel at ease. She is brittle asthmatic too, along with other things and like you, I feel the school should understand.

    If I was you, I would write to the Governors and Ofsted and explain but ultimately it is down to trust. Will you be able to trust them as a school?? Can you look at alternatives??

    I really hope things settle for you. It's such a worry xx

  • Hi I really understand your problems. My daughter sounds to be just like yours regarding her asthma. She is 13 now and no better. I had similar issues with my daughters old headmaster at primary school and ended up at my wits end like you. Eventually I wrote a letter to him saying he was bordering on harassment and in breach of education guidelines regarding chronic illness. Letter also said parents need to be supported during a childs illness and not harassed especially where there is medical proof. Regarding playtime I would ask for health and safety policy and safeguarding telling head they are putting your child at risk and you intend to take further action if they cannot accommodate your child's illness as they have a legal duty of care. Also send letter to the governers asking for a written response in 10 days. I did this and received a letter of apology the next day. I found that writing is way more affective as it is a permanent record of your concerns and has to be acted on. The governors must also act on all written complaints. Good luck don't let them upset you during such a stressful time.

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