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As a Paediatrician who fully ascribes to the dictum that school non attendance is linked to long term life failure I acknowledge how crucial school attendance is. Furthermore I have my own aphorism which is that 'sick children go to school' - as evidenced by our patients with cancer, cystic fibrosis, JIA etc who are keen to go to school and whose parents are desperate to send them. School non attendance is more usually linked to factors such as separation anxiety, somatisation and at extremes embellishment and fabrication. there are often child and parental factors involved. School non attendance is therefore a manifestation of other underlying issues. School attendance per se seems to be crucial as even children who are successful academically function less well in society if they have not been to school.
There is an unanswered question as to whether school absence is merely a symptom of wider dysfunction or an additional cause and exacerbating factor. The implication, and an orthodoxy which we believe, is that attending school is an important intervention by removing children from a somewhat negative home environment and exposing them to a more normal one in school including providing the skills required for social living.
if school non attendance is predominantly a symptom of multiple other issues it is unlikely that increasing attendance alone will improve outcomes until the other cause are addressed
Understanding School Refusal
A Handbook for Professionals in Education, Health and Social Care
M. S. Thambirajah, Karen J. Grandison and Louise De-Hayes Jessica Kinsley publishers 2007
Pediatricians and Pediatric Dentist should routinely tell the parents of their young patients that they are to return to school the same day before/after routine office visits. My experience in the school health office is that students may have an early morning or an afternoon appointment for annual/semi-annual check ups but keep the student out of school for the entire day.
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