Mum refuses to let her 10-year-old son accept attendance prize at school

"The messages we are sending to our kids when we reward attendance is wrong for so many reasons – there has to be a better way"


Goodness, these school attendance awards are something of a hot potato, right? It seems they are riling a lot of parents right now…


Just a few weeks ago we reported how one mum told her local paper how disgusted she was that her little boy wasn’t allowed to attend a movie afternoon because his attendance wasn’t 100% after being in hospital, while another child missed out on a Christmas party after taking time off when his dad died.

Two pretty shocking examples of why these prizes might not be a good thing, right?

Now, another mum, blogger and author Rachel Wright, has vented her reservations about rewarding children for simply turning up at school every day – and she makes some pretty darn good points too – we’ve said before that at the end of the day, getting to school is pretty much out of a child’s control (which is perhaps why this school decided to reward the parents instead when the kids turned up regularly).

Rachel’s compelling post explains how her son, JJ, has been awarded an afternoon at a soft play centre along with the rest of the youngsters in his class who have perfect attendance records – and why she will not be letting him accept it.

She goes on to explain how she likes to see her son rewarded at school – but not for things he has no control over – such as turning up every day.

This, Rachel says is down to ‘luck’ and not him putting in any specific effort.

The blog post in full

“Four reasons my son won’t accept his 100% Attendance Award.

“No. 2 son has been awarded an evening at a soft play centre because he has 100% attendance at school. He loves going to soft play, he loves going out with his friends, we love it when school reward him BUT he won’t be going. Here’s why…

“1) We don’t reward luck.

“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.

“2) 100% Attendance Awards demonise the weakest.

“In this family you are not shamed for ill health, vulnerability or weakness. In this house you are not encouraged to spread germs when you are not well. In this house we look after ourselves and the weakest amongst us.

“Can you imagine a work place that at the end of each week marked out all the people who hadn’t been sick? Where all the departments with the least number of people off were rewarded – in front of everyone else? It happens in schools all the time.

“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?

“3) He had no control over his 100% attendance.

“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.

“4) We are taking him out of school for 5 days at the end of term.

“In this family we value school and work but we also know the importance of making memories and having rest. So our son will finish his school year one week early and go to Italy instead class parties, watching films and playing end of year games (with permission from school).*

“As much as I understand the importance of attendance, there must be a better way of helping those families and children who don’t go to school for non-genuine reasons.

“The messages we are sending to our kids when we reward attendance is wrong for so many reasons – there has to be a better way.

“Do you have any creative suggestions about how schools can tackle non-genuine attendance without penalising the sick?

“*We are going on holiday without our eldest son who is severely disabled. As a result we need to go during school term as we cannot expect anyone to care for him 24hours a day. As it is, a complex package of support from family, hospice, paid carers and school will mean the holiday takes place. It isn’t how we imagine a family holiday but it is sadly what is needed.”

What do you think?

Rachel’s argument is pretty convincing, right? But do you agree? Or do you think it is punishing the child by not letting them have the prize? All a bit of a minefield isn’t it! Let us know what you think in comments or on Facebook.

Pics: Rachel Wright/

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