rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I opened a form letter from my children's school this morning, informing me that "Frederick"'s attendance is at 90%, significantly lower than the government target of 95%. It included this particularly threatening paragraph:

"You should be aware that regular attendance is a legal requirement and the Education Welfare Officer may become involved if there is no significant improvement in Frederick's attendance."

Now, I am absolutely a stroppy middle-class parent, whose response to bureaucratic threats like this is "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough". I am not at all concerned about seeing this off myself.  But that this is the system, that letters like this will be going out to parents without my resources and confidence, that the very first contact to parents on this issue contains implied threats of legal action and bureaucratic interference - that appalls me.

On closer inspection, it is not actually possible for me to "improve" my child's attendance in the remainder of the school year: they've calculated that 90% threshold assuming he has perfect attendance between now and July.  He cannot physically have any better attendance than he does now, the way they've calculated it.  So that threatening paragraph is also setting me up to fail.
ETA: I got that bit wrong - talking it through with my dad, I was getting confused between days-in-school-year and sessions-in-school year.  He's just completed 190 sessions, with an attendance rate of 90%; there's another 190 sessions to go, so if he achieves perfect attendance for the rest of the year, we'll get back up to that target 95%. Which together with the name thing makes me think this is some automated letter generation, because we've hit the halfway point.  It's still heavy-handed but it's not quite as awful as I first thought. /ETA

My child has a 90% attendance record, because I keep my children at home when they are ill, and he has been a bit more ill than usual this past school year.  It's stupid to pressurise parents to send ill children to school.  It doesn't benefit the sick child and it puts the rest of the school community at risk. Any children with lowered immunity will be much more at risk, and will then presumably have even worse attendance records. Lowered immunity is correlated with disability, chronic conditions, and poverty, so this is an access issue as well.

I know this is a system problem: government policy enforced under threat of poor Ofsted results.  I can't fix the system.  But I can try to make my local part better.  So I've got letters to write:
  • specific response about my child's attendance record 
  • letter to headteacher and governors about the wider issues of access, and the way parents are contacted
  • ... and then see what those result in, I suppose
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Almost every time I get a phone call from a number I don't recognise, the person on the other end is a spammer or a scammer or at minimum trying to sell me something.  The number of times I think "no, you're being harsh, answer this one", only to have the "Mrs Finch? I'm calling about a claim you may have made ...."  or similar.

So I've taken to screening calls if I don't know them, my life is much less interrupted by scummy people and everything is good.  People I want to hear from tend to leave some kind of message and I make a point of noting and following up messages.

Except that today I've been following up a letter regarding a medical referral I've been expecting, which says, paraphrased, "you didn't send back $important_form and we couldn't contact you by phone so we assume you don't want the referral and are cancelling it".  I rang them up, left a message, answered this time when I got a call from an unrecognised number, and we got to work on clearing up the problem.  After that call was over, I saved the number to my phone book, and then realised it was the one that had been ringing me several times a week recently.

Problem 1: they never left a message, which they said (on a further followup call) was for patient confidentiality reasons.
Problem 2: the number that shows up on my phone when they call me (their outbound caller id) both doesn't match the number on all my letters from them AND is even in a different area code.  There's no way I look at that and think "oh yes, that will be the Cambridge-based specialist unit I'm expecting to hear from".  I think "phone spammer".

Bureaucracy, technology and telesales: why we can't have nice things.

On the good side, now that I have managed to speak to a real person, my referral is being processed and the data they needed from $important_form has been collected.  I just don't know how to reconcile "we must keep patient information private" and "people will screen calls from numbers they don't recognise".

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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

July 2017

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