Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 5 June 2014

Full Attendance

OK, so it was only my AOL newsfeed and it was only a Parentdish article, but nevertheless, this little nugget caught my eye yesterday.
Callum Rollinson
You can read all about him at Parentdish

I am to congratulate Callum Rollinson. And I do. Callum Rollinson has made the news because he has just finished school with a clean attendance record. This young man has reached his GCSEs without missing a single day of school.

So I say thee Yay! Callum Rollinson! Bravo! Well done! 

I hope Callum’s record will continue to be this good, and that he will succeed as he takes up his apprenticeship to become an engineer.

Clearly there are plenty of young people who could learn from Callum’s very good example.

I genuinely wish to take nothing away from Callum’s achievement.

Did you know that we put our kids in school for 191 days a year? That’s the legal requirement. That’s what we do. 191 days. We put our children in school for 52% of the year.

It doesn’t sound like much, does it?

Now ask yourself how hard it must be to get a child into school every day, and ask yourself whether it should be news that a child makes it to school every day of his school life.

I can tell you that both of my children had a clean attendance record at school.

At the end of year assembly at their primary school they would have a little prize giving. One of the prizes was a certificate for full attendance. In a school of about 250 kids, fewer than half-a-dozen got that certificate in the years my children attended, and those kids came from two families: mine and one other. 

I was shocked then, and I’m shocked now.

Of course, primary school is when the parents are in charge of getting the kids into school. I imagine attendance figures in secondary schools when  most kids are getting themselves to and from school are probably lower.

Again, my children had clean attendance records.

I realise it isn’t always possible for every single child. I realise that a child will occasionally be ill enough to be excused school. I realise that a child might have an accident. I’m not utterly heartless. I’m surprised that this might happen to all but one child, though. I’m surprised that this might happen to all but one child in a class, let alone a school, a town, a county, a country!

Of course, I don’t believe for a moment that Callum Rollinson was the only child taking his GCSEs this year to have a clean school attendance record. I just don’t think it should be a rarity.

Kids are only in school for 191 days a year and only in classes for 4 hours 45 minutes per day. They don’t get much classroom time; it seems madness to miss any of it if they don’t have to.

When I was a kid we suffered all the childhood diseases. It doesn’t happen now. The MMR vaccine has taken care of most of that. Chickenpox is still a problem, I suppose, but both of my children went through it when they were toddlers, so I jumped that hurdle before school. With so many kids socialised so early in nurseries, creches and toddler groups I’d have to guess that’s pretty normal. No kid needs to be kept off school for a cough or a sniff. No normal kid needs to be sick, either.

OK, we all feel off-colour from time to time, but who takes time off work because they feel peaky? I know I don’t.

I had a method with my kids. If they woke up moaning, I suggested they ate breakfast and saw how they felt. If they were still moaning after breakfast, I suggested we walked to school and then saw how they felt. Always, and I mean always, by the time they got to school with some food inside them and the cobwebs blown away, and with the buzz of kids going through the school gates, they were ready for anything.

I don’t know, maybe I was just lucky. My kids had routines. They ate well and they slept well, and, for the most part, I like to think that they lived in a calm, ordered and content environment.

There was just one occasion.

The dort ate a hot sausage roll in a café. She was terribly sick afterwards. She was so sick, in fact, that I called a doctor. She got over it, and, like most kids, she bounced back pretty fast. I felt terrible for her, because she was clearly ill. It also all happened over a half-term holiday, and she was as right as rain by the time she had to go back to school.

But then, you see, when there are only 191 days of school it’s not hard to get sick on one of the other 174. She wouldn't have been eating a hot sausage roll in a café on a school night. 

Poor dort! 


  1. When I plugged this post on FaceBook I headed it up by saying that I was kinda wondering when school became optional. Tim came up with this reply:

    When kids started being able to take advantage of their parents, when parents started letting themselves be taken advantage of, when perceived 'love' took the place of setting a good example, and the generation of school leavers that felt abandoned and underserved by the education sector started having kids and sending them to school?

  2. I also put it down to social media, its basically like handing a soapbox and a megaphone to a crowd who rubbish all teachers and the education system. With that message being touted over and over, is it any wonder that it may colour some parent's opinions?