A rant about school attendance awards

A blackboard with "100%" written on it.

I haven’t had a good rant on here for a while, so let’s talk about the fundamentally stupid entities that are school attendance awards.

Oldest came back today with a shiny new school-branded notebook. His younger brother didn’t. They’re both good boys who work hard and earn lots of praise from their brilliant teachers.

So, having experienced this a few times in the past, I immediately knew what was going on.

My younger son missed out for committing the twin crimes of catching a sick bug and obeying the 48-hour rule last term.

Meanwhile, his brother got preferential treatment for being lucky enough to dodge germs. If it weren’t so ridiculous it would be laughable.

The all-or-nothing nature of these awards is needlessly divisive. Not to mention a complete waste of time and resources.

Attendance awards essentially reward luck and punish misfortune, which sends out completely the wrong message.

Those who are lucky enough to avoid being ill are treated more favourably, while insult is added to injury for those who miss a day or two through no fault of their own.

There’s also the implication that life owes the 100-percenters a living. We simply shouldn’t dish out awards for turning up. They’re supposed to be there by law!

Looking from another angle, there’s the blatant ignorance of the fact that, in life, unavoidable unfortunate things happen. It’s simply not fair to penalise people for things that are completely out of their control.

I suppose I must acknowledge the raison d’être for attendance awards. Namely that schools are under ridiculous pressure to hit targets. And offering incentives is a tried-and-trusted strategy.

But most children whose attendance is less than 100% aren’t to blame, which makes the awards ultimately futile.

I know that truancy can sometimes be an issue too but, if a kid doesn’t want to be in class, they’re pretty unlikely to be won over by a pencil sharpener with the school’s name on it!

Speaking of which, the little gifts that children get for “achieving” 100% attendance bother me too. They’re a shameful waste of money and staff time.

Pretty much every day, I read news stories about teachers and parents having to pay for school essentials due to lack of funding. Yet here we have corporate-style branded merch.

I certainly sympathise with those less inclined to support school fundraising efforts when budget that could have been spent elsewhere has gone on things like this.

And what about the poor staff who have to do all the related admin? They’ve got enough on their plates as it is!

Man alive.

Do your kids get attendance awards? If so, what do you think of them?


  1. Kate

    I could not agree more! The amount f upset caused in our house because the children were too poorly by schools standards to attend is more than I’d wish on any parent. I’ve had one of my children get into such a start about missing out on 100% awards that we ended up taking the child into school to calm them. Luckily as they have grown they understand how petty it is to be punished for something out of their control. With new little ones attending this year I’m sure the issue will arise again.

  2. John Adams

    Alas, speak to some teachers and they will give you an alternative story. I recall one having to have a meeting with parents who couldn’t understand why their kid was falling behind with an attendance rate of 75%! That said, it does irritate me when attendance is so strictly marked so a doctor’s appointment is considered a school absence. I get the drive to increase standards and improve parental attitudes but ‘struth it’s harsh.

  3. Pingback: Five things I'm still not used to as a parent | Parenting | Diary of the Dad

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