Head blasts ‘sickies’
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’