School

School Attendance Challenge Prize Draw day 1.

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DENVER - SEPTEMBER 08:  Second graders watch a...
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On Friday when I picked my daughter up from school she had a postcard in her back for the School Attendance Challenge Initiative by Newcastle City Council, Debenhams and Eldon Square. It runs for the month of March.

The 100% Attendance challenge is to attend school every day and arrive on time throughout the month of March to have a chance to win one of twenty £50 gift cards.

Basically this was a promotion postcard as Eldon Square and Debenhams are supporting Newcastle Education Welfare Service to celebrate the opening of Debenhams flagship store in Eldon Square, Newcastle.

“Gaining a good education through regular school attendance is the key to the best possible life chances and future success”.

As you have to add your child’s school details it is fair to assume this is a City Wide prize draw, so the chance of winning the prize draw is pretty slim.  Also, just to made sure you do not cheat and say that you have achieved a 100% attendance with no late starts the postcard lets you know that your childs attendance records will be confirmed with the school.

So how did we fare today?  Well, my daughter has 2 very slack front teeth and a sore throat so getting breakfast in her so we could leave the house was very problematic.  However, we were out on time and all was good but the car was frozen over, the automatic wing mirrors on the XF did not go into place so I took longer to get to school than usual because of the icy conditions.

We arrived after the 8.55 bell but before 9 AM.  Welcomed at the school gate by the Education Department of the Newcastle City Council who were collecting names of late attendees.  Although my daughter would have been in class before the register was taken and did not have to go through the late door as the school main entrance doors were open and she went straight inside with a string of other kids she has ‘failed’ the challenge on day one.

Is it really in the spirit of things for the Newcastle City Council Education Department for day 1 of the initiative to be collecting names at school gates??? I was back home before 9.05 and writing this.  Hardly that late a start but what sign does that make for my daughter, hardly her fault that she was minutes late for school due to things outside of her control and her ability to enter the prize draw lost already.

So what do the Education Department do with the names they collect at the school gates?  There were plenty of other late arrivals coming in as I left the school.  Well apparently they monitor late arrivals and lack of attendance as factors as to whether to take parents to court!!!

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A schools definition of ‘encouragement’ differs to mine.

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I spoke to the deputy head at my daughters school this afternoon.  She had spoken to my daughter, questioned her about why she did not want to go to school then made her apologise to the school staff for her behaviour.  Frankly I am SO ANNOYED.  I have always told my daughter never to hit first however she can lash out  in self defence.

The deputy head at the school said the staff members actions were of ‘encouragement’!!!!

Thanks to thefreedictionary.com I have a definition of encouragement;

Noun 1. encouragementencouragement – the expression of approval and support

commendation, approval – a message expressing a favorable opinion; “words of approval seldom passed his lips”
abetment, abettal, instigation – the verbal act of urging on
cheering, shouting – encouragement in the form of cheers from spectators; “it’s all over but the shouting”
advancement, furtherance, promotion – encouragement of the progress or growth or acceptance of something
fosterage, fostering – encouragement; aiding the development of something
goading, prod, prodding, spur, spurring, urging, goad – a verbalization that encourages you to attempt something; “the ceaseless prodding got on his nerves”
incitement, provocation – needed encouragement; “the result was a provocation of vigorous investigation”
vote of confidence – an expression of approval and encouragement; “they gave the chairman a vote of confidence”
discouragement – the expression of opposition and disapproval
2. encouragement – the act of giving hope or support to someone

assist, assistance, help, aid – the activity of contributing to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose; “he gave me an assist with the housework”; “could not walk without assistance”; “rescue party went to their aid”; “offered his help in unloading”
morale booster, morale building – anything that serves to increase morale; “the sight of flowers every morning was my morale builder”
3. encouragement – the feeling of being encouraged

hope – the general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled; “in spite of his troubles he never gave up hope”

Now I cannot see anything in the above definition that would support forcibly taking a very distressed child go into school away from her mother.

What really annoys me is that the teach did not speak to me or acknowledge my presence.  Her only interaction was with my daughter when she told her that she had to go into school and made an attempt to get hold of her.

I was already dealing with the situation, I was taking to my daughter and encouraging her to go into school voluntarily.  What the staff member did created an unnecessary situation and made things really bad.  Had she not intervened my daughter would have gone merrily into school as she always does.

A coaching focused approach would have resolved the situation swiftly.  What do I think she should have done?

Firstly not got involved.  I was dealing with the situation well enough and she should have kept out of it.  I am more than capable of getting my crying daughter into class.

Secondly if she wanted to become involved she should have spoken to me first, not ignored my presence and undermined me in front of my own daughter.

Thirdly she should not have made any attempt to physically take my child into school.

More things … yes loads.  She made no attempt to find out what was going on, why my daughter was upset, there may have been a family bereavement or she may have been unwell.  Without establishing the facts then she should have left well alone.  If I wanted assistance from staff then I would have asked for it.  An appropriate way to speak to my daughter would have been to lower herself to my young daughters height and talk to her nicely.

I found her manner towards my daughter intimidating and bullying.  All schools have a no bullying policy.  I believe that bullying is (amongst other things) when someone uses their age, position or size to mistreat or undermine another.  No one deserves to be bullied or harassed but it could happen to any of us and in some shape and form it probably has happened to most of us and it isn’t nice.

What signals was the staff member sending out?  She was saying that it is OK for an someone to be forcibly moved against their will.  To barge into a situation that did not involve them and try to take over without firstly establishing the facts.  I am sure they would have plenty to say if the school children were doing similar.

By making my daughter apologise to the school staff the deputy head has condoned their actions – and without speaking to me first to establish my viewpoint on what had happened.  No surprise there then.

I believe that if the school expects my daughter to treat her peers and school staff with dignity and respect they should afford the same back, this should apply to all children no matter their age or size.  School staff should not take advantage of their position to forcefully deal with a simple situation that does not involve them.

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When is grabbing a school child acceptable?

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I took my daughter to school this morning.  She was feeling a bit off colour and had a sore throat so I gave her some Calpol and hoped she would be fine.

In the school yard next to us was a little girl from my daughters class who also didn’t want to go school today.  When the bell ran the children file in but mine wouldn’t go in and started crying.  I stood talking to her at the next to the entrance to the school and tried to calm her down.  A member of the school staff intervened and made several attempts to grab my daughter to take her into school saying she had to go inside.  This got my daughter increasingly more upset and she lashed back saying to the staff member to leave her alone.

Whilst I not up for pandering to my daughter and would not condone her behaviour I have always said never to hit anyone but if struck she can hit back.

I do think that for a school with an anti-bullying policy the decision to grab first and not look at what is going on is deplorable.

I took my daughter into school, mentioned to the teacher she had a sore throat and had been given medication and she went merrily into class.  Sometimes it is just about taking a little of time to make the little one feel listened too and understood is all that is needed.

Interestingly too there was another child in the classroom with his mother not wanting to go to school.  Surely the school should be asking why 10% of the class (and there could be more I don’t know) do not want to go to class.  Is it coincidence or is there more too it?

Sadly this is not the first time it has happened to my daughter, and from what I have been told by other parents she is not the only child it has happened too.

But one question is really bothering me.  Why do teachers think it is acceptable to grab children in their care? It would not be tolerated by the school if the children were grabbing each other.  Does the simple fact they are ‘grown up’ and ‘staff’ allow them ‘special excemption’ to the non bullying environment which the education system and society has signed up to?

Relevant reading books

School Bullying: Insights and Perspectives by Sonia Sharp, Peter K Smith, and Peter Smith
Bullying in Schools: How Successful Can Interventions Be? by Debra Pepler, Ken Rigby Edited by Peter K. Smith, Peter K. Smith, Debra Pepler, and Ken Rigby
Bullying in Secondary Schools: What It Looks Like and How To Manage It (PCP Professional) by Dr Keith Sullivan, Mr Mark Cleary, and Dr Ginny Sullivan
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