Keeping kids at home could delay others’ education, but sending them in could spread sickness.
Coughing, runny noses, sore throats- when is illness bad enough that children should stay home from school?
Children should not take more than three sick days per year, said leaflets and radio ads released by the East Sussex County Council as part of their ‘Get A Grip’ campaign.
“Good reasons for missing school- there are none,” the campaign said. The East Sussex Council said that missed days impact entire classes, distracting teachers as they help sick students catch up.
Many parents were upset by this campaign, feeling that it is an unrealistic expectation. Research suggests that sending students to school when sick can have a negative impact both on them and their classmates. Children take longer to recover from their illness without rest, while also spreading the infection to others, leading to lower academic performance overall. We went out onto the streets of Cardiff to find out the public’s opinion.
Pete, 54, Birmingham
“I think it has to be on a case by case basis when you’re ill, but on the other hand, you need to discourage kids taking days off too readily. I think it’s hard to put a limit on it, because what happens if there’s a serious accident? I don’t think you can put a quota on it. It’s hard to regulate.”
Jiaryi, 23, China
“I think children should definitely be able to choose. It’s their freedom to choose. It’s good to be educated, but it depends. I think they should discuss it with their family. It’s not sensible to say if it’s fair or not fair.”
Rebecca Miles, 25, Cardiff
“It’s down to the parents to decide what’s best for their children, I wouldn’t pretend to know about parenting. I’d go with what the parents say, and it depends on the gravity of the situation.”
Terry Williams, 60, Dorset
“It’s cheaper for the kids to go away, but I don’t agree with it, unless you’re on your deathbed or in the hospital. It’s a waste of time to have doctors giving out sick notes. I agree with the rules. I’ve never done it, and I know lots of parents may have done it because it’s cheaper, but that’s life, isn’t it? It would be like me breaking the rules driving.”
Jack, 19, Peak District
“You could argue, though, that you could boost the immune system of the rest of the class by having some sick six year olds in there. No, I’m joking. I missed quite a lot of school in secondary school because of a chest infection, and my parents got a letter basically saying your child has missed far too much school, even though it wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t just sitting there saying, ‘I don’t want to go to school so I’m gonna be ill’, it was because I couldn’t go to school.”
Rebecca, 21, Australia
“No. I work at a school in Australia, and if the kids come in sick, then other kids get sick. And if the teachers get sick, and then it just kind of shuts the whole school down.”
Natasha, 43, Birmingham
“Basically, I have a daughter now. She’s 15 now, and she’s been out of school since year eight. Now she’s doing her GCSEs. I think it’s good for them to go to school, because it’s part of their education, but then it’s nuts. You get a knock on the door from social services. I’ve been there before. Do I think it’s reasonable? No.”
Alex Grocock, 21, Bristol
“It’s hard to judge how ill someone is. It’s subjective. Whether they’re actually ill or the parents think ‘oh, they’ve got a little cough’. Three days doesn’t seem like much. I think it’s worse if they go to school and all the other kids get ill as well. And what if the teacher gets ill? That’ll disrupt it even more.”
Ben Chapel, 25, Redding
“If you get ill and you only have three days, it’s ridiculous! I’ve got two younger sisters, and they get charged if they take one day off to go on a holiday, yet they can get random days off whenever they like in the business sector. I think it’s stupid, to be honest.”
Morgan, 18, Lester
“It’s stupid, isn’t it? With primary students, I never found the amount of school you missed from sick days to be massively significant. Making kids to go to school when they’re unwell actually makes them less productive. It’s more disturbing to the class because they have to listen to a kid coughing and spluttering. It’s a disturbance. If they’d just been given the day off and allowed to get better, then it would be better for everyone.”