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28th Jun 2024

‘Rewarding perfect school attendance is unfair to kids who are sick’

Sophie Collins

Attendance in school

The post online has stirred up some debate

Should we be calling an end to awarding school children for perfect attendance?

According to Newstalk Breakfast Briefing presenter, Shane Beatty, it is unfair to those who miss school for valid reasons.

The presenter’s recent online post stirred significant discussion, where he says that rewarding perfect attendance is inappropriate since “it is not a child’s fault if they get sick”.

On Lunchtime Live, Shane elaborated on what inspired him to post his thoughts on the topic.

“Yesterday, I saw two mothers on Facebook celebrating their children’s perfect attendance—one child had a flawless attendance record for the year, and another had maintained it for eight years,” he shared. 

“Everyone was praising them, saying how fantastic Johnny and Mary were.”

“I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. Are these children truly dedicated, or just fortunate enough to avoid illness?” he questioned. 

“Many kids fall sick with the flu, Covid, or have long-term conditions. Others face bereavements, making it impossible for them to achieve a perfect attendance record.”

He wondered if the right criteria are being rewarded: “Are we celebrating children simply because they’ve never had to miss a school day due to illness?”

Beatty drew parallels to workplace culture, where employees sometimes attend work despite being unwell, potentially compromising others’ health. 

“People often come to work sick just to show they made it,” he noted. 

“Especially after Covid, we were advised to stay home if ill. Are children now risking their health for an attendance certificate?”

The reaction to his tweet was divided, with some supporting the awards and others opposing them. 

“Some believe in rewarding excellence and see daily school attendance as a form of discipline,” Shane said. 

“One man proudly shared that he still cherishes his perfect attendance certificate from 45 years ago.”

Some parents even contacted Shane to express their frustration. Their children, due to various health conditions, can never aspire to perfect attendance, making the award feel exclusionary.

He noted that while many schools have stopped awarding perfect attendance in recent years, some continue the practice.

Let us know what your thoughts are over on social media.