Mother Rejects Son’s 100% School Attendance Award

July 6, 2017
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A mother explained why she refused to let her son collect an award from his school which praised his perfect attendance.

Rachel Wright, from Southend-on-Sea, was furious to be told that her 10-year-old son JJ  was being given recognition for not being sick during the school year.

In an emotional Facebook post, the mom-of-three, who also has a severely disabled 11-year-old son, said she thought his school, Hamstel Junior School, was ‘demonising the weak’ by giving out such prizes.

JJ will not be joining other pupils receiving the award during a celebratory evening.

In the post, Rachel explains ‘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. In this family you are not shamed for ill health, vulnerability or weakness.

The post has now been viewed more than 2.5million times.

“Sickness is not something to be frowned upon or a result of lack of achievement, it is predominantly a mix of luck and genetics, neither of which my kids can control. 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.

 Rachel says that JJ had no control over his attendance – he was simply taken to school every day – whether he liked it or not.

She also challenged the idea of having an award for non-sickness in a work place.

‘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?’

The headteacher at Hamstel Junior School declined to comment on JJ’s prize,  however, James Courtenay, executive councillor for children and learning at education authority Southend Council, a unitary council, said: ‘With school attendance so crucial to a child’s education and the clear link to attainment it is easy to see why schools reward attendance in this way. However, I can also understand Mrs Wright’s view, who makes some interesting and eloquent points in her blog. It is a difficult situation for schools but ultimately it is a matter for individual schools to decide on.”

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