Should schools be allowed to punish sick children?

I dislike injustice. It’s one of the reasons I studied Law to masters level but then left the profession. The idea of defending someone who I knew was guilty just didn’t sit right with me.

When I see injustice I have to say something. I can’t just turn a blind eye. I fight for people, especially those I love and care about. I love my children dearly and I will personally fight any injustice they come across in this world. Not just with a cursory remark or a little complaint, oh no I take my fights to the top – I always have and I always will. This fight doesn’t just affect my children, potentially it affects yours too. That’s why I want you to join me in my fight. United we stand and all that.

When I arrived at the school gates I saw children handing in permission slips. Id checked my child’s book bag that morning, when we read together, as I do every morning so I knew we had no note home, no permission slip. I asked another parent and was told “It’s for the trip”. The mystery deepened. What trip? I had only read the latest newsletter this week and couldn’t see any upcoming reception trip.

I was then informed that this trip was only for those children with high attendance. I could feel it inside. That sense of injustice. Burning away at me. That feeling that my child was being punished for daring to be ill. Illnesses she had more than likely picked up at school as no one at home had been ill.

I marched straight to the office to enquire what was going on and sure enough I was told “If your girls qualified you would have got a letter”.

I thought we lived in an equal world. A world where we discouraged discrimination in all forms. My mind was now in overdrive. What about those children who suffered with allergies and have to attend hospital appointments. What about those children fighting cancer who need operations and chemotherapy. No I couldn’t take this lying down. I had to fight this injustice. Not just for my children, but for all children.

You see, I want my child growing up in a world where everyone has the same opportunities. Not a world where sick children are penalised & punished.

Imagine the heartache for the children of sitting in the classroom and waving goodbye to your friends. Friends who are all off on a trip in school time for their wonderful attendance. The irony of rewarding great attendance with time off school was definitely not lost on me.

I wanted to fight for those children. Those children, like mine, who would be sat watching their friends walk out of that door. I have taken my fight to the very top. Right to the government. I could have taken the fight to the headteacher at my child’s school, but you see that would have only solved the issue for her school or her academy. I want this resolved nationally. I don’t want any child watching their friends be rewarded whilst they are being punished for something they can not control.

I spoke to other parents to gauge reactions. Was it just me. Was I overreacting?

Nathalie runs The Intolerant Gourmand and Nathalie’s child has severe allergies. This was Nathalie’s reaction to the notion of schools punishing sick children “It’s awful, and I don’t understand how any school can sanction it. My little boy has a number of hospital appointments throughout the year due to severe allergies. If he has a reaction it’s a minimum of 3 days before he’s well enough to return. All of this through no fault of his own. We do our utmost to make him feel ‘normal’ when reality is he misses out on so much because he can’t eat the same foods as everyone else. I’d be furious if his school took this stance.

I understand schools not wanting to reward bad behaviour, but a blanket penalising of those who have had no choice is just appalling!”.

Tom runs Diary of The Dad and Tom commented “I’m very much against attendance awards and actually wrote a post about them relatively recently. It’s really not fair that they punish kids for being unlucky enough to be ill. It also contradicts the 48-hour rule that most schools have. Parents are told to keep kids with bugs and viruses at home to prevent spread -yet the existence of these awards or incentives actually penalises them for following the rules.”

Suzy runs Our Bucket List Lives and commented “I’ve shared something about this recently and it caused quite a stir. One school is only sending kids to Drayton Manor which have 100% attendance so they are basically punishing kids for being sick. It’s absolutely dreadful. Teaches people completely the wrong thing. Reward can come in so many different ways but it should be about behaviour and work not who is sick and who isn’t. Completely unacceptable.”

I am taking my fight to ban schools from punishing sick children straight to the top. To the Government. I would really appreciate it if you could support me by singing and sharing this petition:

  1. Its completely unfair to punish them. We’ve had a couple of one off scenarios where the kids have been sent home due to upset tummies, I’ve explained what the problem has been and we’ve still had to keep them off 48hrs. Needless to say they’ve lost their attendance.

  2. Terrible isn’t it to deliberately let kids miss out because of something they can’t control at all. Whether it’s illness or otherwise it’s the parents who decided whether the child attends or not x

  3. I agree. I’d also much rather my child be targeted on things like kindness and behaviour – things they can control. I guarantee every time my child is sick it’s comes from the school they’re breeding grounds for the germs! X

  4. “Voluntary”? Well that would really have wound me up. Like he would have chosen cancer. Poor thing. I hope he recovered well as is ok now? I can’t believe the school allowed those reminders to be sent and I can’t believe they even mentioned his attendance given that he was lucky to be alive let alone in school x

  5. I completely disagree with attendance rewards as if a child is sick or has a tummy bug they are kept off due to the schools policy! So if your child was sick in school but was fine when you got them home they would have to miss a day at school because of the policy!! So it’s completely out of parents hands!! Therefore unfair for them to not receive an attendance award!! I think it could be if your child gets above a certain percentage of if your child has proven appointments this should not go against their attendance score. I could go on for ages on this subject!!

  6. I’ve signed the petition. My son had cancer as a toddler, and was off sick not just for the initial operation and tests, but had to continue to have follow up tests (which involved a day in hospital) every couple of months for the remainder of his school years. In spite of the school knowing about his illness, we continued to get reminders telling us to arrange “voluntary” doctor’s visits during half term or holidays. And of course his report card always highlighted his “poor” attendance, as if he had chosen to skip school to visit the oncologist.

  7. Same at my childrens school but you have to have 100% for the full term to go on the trip and the last trip of the year in July (normally the sea side) you have to have had 100% all year. It’s silly and unfair to those that had to have time off. My eldest caught chicken pox a couple of years ago and that was held against her even though it was school policy she wasnt allowed in. It was a stupid idea to bring this in and should be thrown out the window, doesn’t help with attendance at all and almost 80% of the children at their primary school just dont go in and play all day in the street anyway most the week

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