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What Schools Are Really Saying When They Reward 100% Attendance

I sat at the back of the hall at my daughter’s school end-of-year assembly smiling as the choir sang, the oldest class performed and finally the awards were given out. As a parent, it is such a proud moment to hear your child’s name called out and their achievements recognized. Awards for academic achievements, sports, star of the year and citizenship had me cheering, smiling and clapping.

…Then one final reward which made me so angry I actually wanted to get up and walk OUT: 100% attendance!

What? You mean they actually reward children with a certificate for not missing a single day at school? Yes, it is actually commonplace and, in my opinion, absolutely awful!

To put this in context, the average attendance in my local authority this year is over 95%, so hardly a huge issue. I do understand some children are absent for reasons that are unacceptable, but is this really something to penalize the child for, or is this not something that would be better dealt with via education of the parents or guardians?

So what are schools really saying when they reward 100% attendance?

1. They are telling children ‘we want you here even if you’re sick’. 

Surely this goes against all health and safety and human rights of the child and others in the school? This is telling children that coming to school comes before their own physical and mental well-being, which is appalling. The entire point of education is that the welfare of the child should be central. By rewarding attendance, you encourage children to come even when contagious to other staff and children or when they are in no fit state to learn. Stop and think…if an employer put attendance of higher value than human rights, would we not be calling our union and going to the press? Then why do we praise schools when they do this?

2. They are telling children ‘school comes before your own family.’

Miriam Gwynne
Miriam Gwynne
Miriam Gwynne lives in Scotland with her husband and 8-year-old twins. Both children have additional needs with Naomi having autism, an eating disorder and anxiety and Isaac having complex autism, neurofibromas type 1, learning difficulties and vision impairment. Isaac is non-verbal. Miriam writes for Huffington Post, Autism Awareness.com, Family Fund, and Firefly as well as her own blog, (www.faithmummy.wordpress.com). Trained as a teacher, Miriam has run her own business, managed a children's play center and now devotes all her time caring for her miracle children.

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