The school secretary just rang me. Our child is at school, ill, needing to come home. We only sent them in today knowing they could come home if too poorly to get through the day. But the school wouldn't authorise child coming home ill because, through recent illnesses, they have just fallen below the government target attendance level.
So I just had a big argument with the secretary. Child will now have a note allowing them to come home but "it won't be authorised". Unfortunately I have to go out very soon so while I could in theory collect them I wouldn't be able to bring them home except via a two hour trip to town where they would just have to sit, very bored in an unfamiliar environment while I am at a music rehearsal. Crap. It's authorised by me. Me, who saw how physically naff they were last night and this morning but who sent them to school anyway to try to do their best. They're not well, but sometimes the body can surprise and provide strength to get through the day anyway.
Personally I don't give a monkeys about government targets - and since child is nearly top of the class in most subjects being off obviously isn't doing them much harm. When a 14 year old gets A* GCSE level in science tests I'm not going to be too worried about their academic chances. When they get Italian grades that shouldn't even be possible to get then I'm not stressed about them "failing".
I wouldn't be worried about academic chances either except that those bits of paper are usually quite useful later. Happiness and authenticity trump any academic piece of paper.
Unfortunately the school secretary went on about the school having to meet the targets. Don't want to send child home because the school needs to hit targets. The secretary seems far more worried about a target than about child. When government targets trump the well being of a child then those targets need to be abolished. Immediately. And when school staff are more worried about a target than about a child then the staff deserve to be sacked. THE CHILD COMES FIRST. Not the Department of Education. Not the David Cameron idea of how things should be. Not a target that might change after another election.
Yep, I'm one of those very annoying parents who is on the side of the child. I'm not on the side of the school. I'm definitely not on the side of the government. I am on the side of the child, the person who should be served by the school and by the government's education policies. And when a child is ill, then a child is ill. It's not as if child is missing lots of school through truancy - and even if they were we would have to look at the reasons why rather than simply condemning the child or those who care for them.
I have to admit, my language with the secretary remained pretty calm. What I wanted to shout at her was more along the lines of "I don't give a shit about your targets. I care about the health and wellbeing of my child. Why do you place an artificial target above children? Is this through stupidity, fear, or anti-human evil?" But no, it's not done to say things like that to school secretaries. Saying things like that may be honest, but it's counter-productive!