Under a new school health guide entitled ‘Miss School, Miss Out’, South Wales school children would be expected to attend classes despite having ailments including conjunctivitis, tonsillitis,glandular fever even headlice.
The controversial booklet which was handed out in schools across South Wales this week, sets guidelines for parents to follow should their child fall ill.
The guidance has angered parents saying it is up to them to decide whether or not their children are well enough to go to classes. The booklet was described as a ‘joke’ by angry parents.
The Guardian Reports:- Parents in south Wales have been told that children suffering from tonsillitis or glandular fever are still expected to go to school.
A health guide subtitled Miss School, Miss Out, produced by a partnership of five local authorities, tells parents that pupils with a wide range of ailments, also including headlice, conjunctivitis, threadworm and hand, foot and mouth disease, are recommended not to take time off. The same advice applies to children with the slapped cheek virus, though the booklet says they should “keep away from vulnerable children and pregnant females”.
Pupils with chickenpox, whooping cough or mumps are recommended to take five days off, while those with measles should take four days off, according to the booklet, which suggests that parents with an ill child seek advice from NHS Direct Wales or consult their GP.
The advice, issued by county councils including Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan, comes amid pressure placed on schools and local authorities by Estyn, the Welsh school inspectorate, to improve attendance. It says that absenteeism is a concern in nearly a third of Welsh secondary schools, with nearly three-fifths of all absences due to illness in 2012-2013.
Parents have reacted with anger to the new advice and argue that they are best people to judge their child’s ability to attend school.
Gareth Whittle, a father of two from Cardiff, told Wales Online: “I thought it was a joke. I think as parents we are responsible enough to know when and for how long we should keep our children away from school.”
The booklet was published by a joint partnership between Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Bridgend and Merthyr county councils, namely the Central South Consortium.