A SCHOOL policy to exclude youngsters who do not meet strict attendance requirements from school trips is sparking outrage among parents.

Fairfield Community Primary School, in Warndon, runs special outings at the end of every half term for children whose attendance record is 96 per cent or above.

The school, which has the second lowest attendance in the whole of Worcestershire according to latest Department of Education figures, has defended the move - saying it has already boosted attendance by two per cent.

But parents say it is unfair that children who miss only a few days of school due to sickness or ill health miss out while their classmates enjoy the special outings.

Emily Ramage, 27, is so upset with the policy that she has launched a petition calling on the school to re-think the policy.

She says her six-year-old daughter Alissa Browning is now asking whether she has "done something wrong" after she missed out on the latest outing, a trip to the cinema on Tuesday to see Kung Fu Panda 3.

Year two pupil Alissa had 95.2 per cent attendance after two bouts of sickness and vomiting before and after Christmas meant she had to be kept at home for 48 hours.

Her mum, from Warndon, said: "My daughter is upset and doesn't know why she hasn't been allowed to go.

"She keeps asking if it is because she has done something wrong and I've told her she hasn't, it is because she has been poorly but she said "I can't help being poorly?"

"Nobody can pre-book an illness and you wouldn't want to pass it on to other people in the class. I don't let my children have time off willy-nilly, their education is very important."

But interim headteacher, Vivienne Cranton, is standing by the policy, telling the Worcester News that the trips have been implemented this school year in a bid to improve attendance after Ofsted flagged it up as an area the school needs to improve.

The latest Department of Education data (2013/2014) has both the national and Worcestershire average attendance at 96.1 per cent per cent while Fairfield's is second worst in the county at 93.7 per cent.

She said that individual attendance figures are worked out between September and the current term, which means children who had missed out previously still had the chance to attend a future trip.

The outings are also subject to good behaviour, with any child issued a 'red slip' being banned from the trip.

There are six trips a year as well as a popcorn and video treat for children who have had 100 per cent attendance. About 80 of the approximately 180 children at the school attended this week's trip to the cinema.

"We have already seen a two per cent swing in attendance which is amazing," said Mrs Cranton. "As a headteacher I have very a strong belief in reward systems rather than sanctions.

"We were at 93 per cent attendance which Ofsted calls 'well below', which is why we have to raise that and one of the ideas we had was to reward children who showed good attendance of 96 per cent or above.

"It's been very popular. We've had people who have been on previous trips who aren't on this one and we did have a bout of flu that affected quite a few children but they should be able to go on the next one as that will be negated next time.

"That's why we run it six times a year.

"We can't go through every child's attendance record, that would be impossible, and that is where the difficulty lies.

"This is done by lots of schools nationally.

"We explained it to the children and the children seemed to accept it and it has already made such a massive difference.

I understand why people may be upset but this isn't our only rewards system and we run termly trips to support their work in class.

"I think what we will look at in the future is perhaps look at most improved attendance but we have to be careful we're not rewarding people for persistent time off.

"We're between a rock and a hard place"


THERE was a huge reaction when Emily Ramage posted her thoughts about the reward scheme on the Worcester News Facebook page.

Many felt it was unfair but others were in agreement with the school's decision.

Here are a selection of the comments:

Tracey Sharp: My daughter also couldn't go to the Christmas trip because she us under the paediatrician and has hospital appointments, I think it's awful that she's made to feel like she's done something wrong for going to the hospital, I agree with the children who miss behave constantly but it's discriminating the ones with medical issue

Jennie Jackson: I have to say if u don't like it then send them to school ill or not. If them isn't there then there absent. No trip. They have same rules every time. No rules has changed. If you don't send them in on trip day then your a bit stupid and undermining the school infront of your kids. Fairfield is a great school now. My grandkids love it and the staff. (sic)

Leanne Roberts: School trips are suppose to be educational and a reward of good behavior, no school should not allow children to go because of days off ill, it is not a child's fault that they are poorly, no child should be banned from a trip unless there behaviour is poor and doesn't improve, and even then the school should be supporting them to be better and achieve a goal suitable for them!

Harriet Keeling: When I was young our parents sent us to school ill or not. We would have to stay in sick bay for the day. It was so boring so the sick records reduced dramatically. This might make me unpopular but I think some of the responsibility is down to the parents.

Julia Brookes: My granddaughter being penalised and she was sent home from school cos she was ill think they are so wrong for treating kids like this