Parenting

This mum wouldn’t let her son accept a perfect attendance award

Reason number one? They don't reward luck.
perfect attendance debate

Just a week after a debate began around parents being fined if their children are late to school, a new parent vs school debate is raging online.

Is perfect attendance really something to be celebrated – or is it less of an ‘achievement’ and more of a case of long running good luck?

That’s what has parents around the world talking after a UK Mum refused to let her 10-year-old son, JJ, accept an award for perfect attendance last week.

Rachel Wright is full-time mum and writer from Southend, UK. She shared her thoughts on why “100% attendance” is not something to be celebrated.

Rachel is also the mother of a child with a chronic illness, and in a post that has since gone viral on Facebook, Rachel highlights that sometimes perfect attendance is impossible.

“In this family we will think of as many reasons possible to praise our children. We will celebrate and reward them, but being lucky enough not to get sick is not one of them. He’s lucky to have not developed a fever, had an accident or live with a chronic illness,” Rachel said in just one section of her Facebook post.

The full explanation for the decision is below.

While it may seem harsh, Rachel also very honestly noted that her son really had no control over his attendance as she was the one who brought him to school.

In this family you don’t take praise for something you didn’t do. He had no control over his attendance. I took him to school and it would have been my decision to keep him off. I should get the reward (or not) for his attendance.

Teachers also have their own stance on the extremely nuanced issue.

One teacher has been quick to point out that while Rachel’s stance is completely valid, “until attendance is removed as a measure of a school’s success, as a teacher I will be expected to promote attendance incentives, alienating some of our most vulnerable students.”

Many teachers who are also parents are torn about their place in the discussion.

“I’m a teacher and mother to school avoidant autistic child,” said one commenter.

“I see it from both sides. It’s a huge part of the OFSTED criteria and schools are under immense strain to tick boxes, but as a parent it’s heart breaking when my son thinks it’s his fault when his class don’t win the attendance award.”

Reguardless, Rachel’s words have hit upon some very important discussion points including the institutionalised pressure placed on us as a society to pretend everything is fine when really, it might not be.

Can you imagine what kind of atmosphere that would create with people who had days off because of bereavement, mental health problem or chronic conditions?

What on earth are we teaching our kids about value and worth? What are we teaching them about looking out for each other and looking after the sick or disabled in our community?

We need to remind our children that it’s okay not to be okay, and we should feel safe to take time off to address those issues.

Rachel explains her reasoning a little further in a follow up comment on the original post:

“I know it’s a response by school to a government target. I even understand the reasoning behind the target. I think there has to be a better way. And I’m concerned that what seems like an innocent reward perpetuates values that I don’t want my kids to have. I want them to respect the need to go to school. To respect authority and recognise when it is right it is challenged in a respectful way.”

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