The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black, has written to the Education Minister and the Central South Wales Consortium to ask them to withdraw the advice leaflet, ‘A Parent’s Guide to Managing Sickness Absence from School’ that they issued to all parents in the Bridgend area earlier in the year, after he was told by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health that the advice in it has been taken out of context and is misleading.
The consortium sent a leaflet to all parents telling them to send their children to school with conditions such as glandular fever, tonsillitis, slapped cheek and conjunctivitis. However, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have since said that the table used in the leaflet has been taken out of context.
They told Mr. Black that the table was taken from a Public Health England document which gives guidance about how long a child is likely to be infectious, not how long before a child is well enough to return to school. They said that this is an important distinction to make: "If a parent suspects their child has an infection, they should visit their GP. Whilst parents know their children best, the GP can help in deciding how long the child should be kept out of school."
Mr Black said, "It is no wonder that parents are unsure whether to send their sick children to school when the consortium has not understood the information that they are basing advice on. Whilst I am aware that improving attendance is a key issue for the consortium, it is not helpful to give parents inaccurate guidance on managing sickness absence.
The comments by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Wales are quite authorative and need to be listened to. I understand that the Royal College contacted the Consortium to point out the misunderstanding but that no correction has been issued and the advice stands. That is quite shocking. There needs to be some accountability here and it needs to start with the Consortium and Bridgend Council listening to expert advice."