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Parents slam Norfolk academy’s ‘unfair’ disco to reward high attendance

PUBLISHED: 15:01 17 December 2018 | UPDATED: 08:34 18 December 2018

Wayland Academy Norfolk has been criticised by parents for organising a 'rewards disco' for pupils with high attendance through the autumn term. Picture: TEN Group

Wayland Academy Norfolk has been criticised by parents for organising a 'rewards disco' for pupils with high attendance through the autumn term. Picture: TEN Group

Archant

Parents have slammed a Norfolk high school after it organised a special disco for children with high attendance through the autumn term.

Wayland Academy in Watton organised the “attendance reward disco” for more than 180 children in years seven, eight and nine who had achieved attendance of 97pc or above from the start of the school year up to December 7.

But parents have criticised the policy behind the celebration, saying it was particularly unfair to children with serious medical conditions.

Kirsti Nicol said her son had missed out on an invitation after missing two days of school due to a medical problem. “Now he is penalised, and absolutely gutted he can’t go to the disco,” she said.

In the post on Facebook, she called on other parents to express their views. Some said offering such rewards would “put children under pressure” while one labelled it as a “witch-hunt”.

Another likened the invitations to bribery. They said: “There will be kids who will be too unwell to go to school who will be determined to, just to pass on bugs and illness because of the school’s way to make sure they’re 100pc in attendance. This is not a brilliant example to set.”

Many parents who commented said such a policy was unfair to children with medical conditions who require more time off school for treatment.

One commented: “I will never understand how schools continue to get away with discrimination like this when any child with medical needs will never meet this kind of criteria.”

Another said: “There are children that are seriously ill and have long term health conditions requiring hospital appointments. As if growing up ill isn’t punishment enough.”

A spokesperson for Wayland Academy said parents had been “overwhelmingly supportive” of the school’s efforts to improve attendance, which is now above the national average.

“Our system of reward activities to encourage positive attendance and behaviour, used alongside other forms of recognition and praise, is well-established and working successfully. We take great care to ensure that the use of rewards is transparent and fair. Activities like the rewards disco are in addition to, and clearly distinct from, our busy programme of year group and whole school events for all students.”

It comes after Caister Academy near Great Yarmouth organised a non-uniform day for children who had achieved 100pc attendance so far this year.

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