Head blasts ‘sick­ies’

The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION - BYSIMONROCKER

JCOSS IS to toughen its pol­icy on pupils tak­ing time off school af­ter telling par­ents its record was the worst in the bor­ough.

Pa­trick Mo­ri­arty, head­teacher of the cross-com­mu­nal school, said its fig­ures for au­tho­rised ab­sences were 20 per cent higher than the av­er­age for sec­ondary schools in Bar­net and“sig­nif­i­cantly worse than other Jewish schools”.

While ev­ery school’s pop­u­la­tion was dif­fer­ent, he said in a let­ter to par­ents, “I can­not see any ob­vi­ous rea­son why our stu­dents should be ill 20 per cent more than those in other schools”.

Ab­sences for ill­ness were “par­tic­u­larly high on Fri­days and on days im­me­di­ately ad­join­ing hol­i­days where they are typ­i­cally dou­ble the rate on other days”.

It seemed more than a co­in­ci­dence that so many stu­dents got ill just be­fore or af­ter a hol­i­day, the head said. He also won­dered whether there was “a temp­ta­tion to re­gard the four lessons on Fri­day as some­how less im­por­tant than oth­ers in the week”.

Mr Mo­ri­arty was “more than a lit­tle ashamed for the school to be at the bot­tom of any league table”.

The ab­sen­tee trend had been wors­en­ing for two years and was con­tin­u­ing to de­te­ri­o­rate, risk­ing crit­i­cism from in­spec­tors.

In De­cem­ber alone, 61 re­quests for ab­sence had been re­ceived — many cit­ing ill rel­a­tives — com­pared with around a dozen for a neigh­bour­ing school dur­ing the whole term.

The school warned par­ents it would con­tinue to is­sue penalty notices for unau­tho­rised ab­sences, which in­cur fines of £60 (ris­ing to £120 if not paid within three weeks).

Par­ents would not be al­lowed to pick up chil­dren unan­nounced dur­ing the school day and mis­takes about the cor­rect term dates would not be ac­cepted.

The pol­icy to con­fis­cate mo­bile phones would be en­forced if stu­dents called par­ents dur­ing the day. Mr Mo­ri­arty said, “We fully un­der­stand that a small num­ber of our stu­dents have gen­uine long-term med­i­cal is­sues which un­avoid­ably af­fect their at­ten­dance… It ap­pears, how­ever, that in too many cases other stu­dents are be­ing kept at home when they could come into school de­spite feel­ing a bit un­der par.”

In too many cases chil­dren are be­ing kept at home’

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