I am annoyed at the English school system right now. I love my son’s school, truly I do. I love everything about it, it’s exactly the school we wanted for our kids but I resent that I am being penalised for taking him out of school for one day because we get back from a cultural trip to Athens one day in to the new half term. School clearly understands that this is ‘a good thing’ for small children to see interesting places with their parents but the government doesn’t appear to have a similar level of understanding and as such it will be noted as an ‘unauthorised absence’ on his record.
We had to ummm and ahhh for ages as to how we would handle the telling of school. Should we a) ask permission, b) not say anything, or c) simply tell them it is happening and accept an unauthorised absence? We opted for c) in the end because we certainly don’t feel as if we need to ask for permission from school to take our children on holiday and we eventually decided that not saying anything and pretending to be ill isn’t fair on the kid we tell not to tell lies!
All was ok. I had recovered from this annoyance and then today happened. Our son has a hospital appointment at 9am tomorrow morning so, like a good parent, I traipsed in to the school office to tell them he’ll be in a little late tomorrow. ‘That’s fine’, I was told. ‘You can show us the appointment letter and it’ll be fine’.
Well, no. I don’t have an appointment letter because it was electronic. I don’t have an email or a text either because it was all done electronically on the hospital’s system. (note, actually I do have a text now because they just sent me one but I didn’t when I had this conversation)
I was informed that this means that when school sends the monthly statistics to the government, someone might question why my son ‘claimed’ to have a hospital appointment we couldn’t prove. Brilliant.
Why, oh why, in this country is there so much suspicion and antipathy towards parents from the education system? My assumption is that it’s because education here is the legal duty of the parent towards a child rather than the right of a child as it is in other countries and I’m convinced it plays a huge part in the way we are treated.
Doesn’t it seem crazy that I should be made to feel bad for taking my son to a hospital appointment? If I were the type of parent who didn’t care about education, whose kid was regularly late to school or regularly just not there, then maybe care about what I’m doing, but when my kid is on time, smart, polite and always there, do not harass me. I’m hardly going to lie, in advance, about being one hour late for school once.