Quarter of British parents ask children to lie when they’re ill so that they can attend school as normal

Seven in ten British parents have sent their children into school or nursery when they are feeling ill, new research has found.

A poll of 2,000 parents of children aged 3-16 found work pressures and attendance figures mean a huge majority send their offspring in even if they are feeling under the weather.

Six in 10 admitted their child has still attended classes when suffering with a contagious infection such as a cold or stomach bug, while more than a third even believe an illness has spread around the school after they sent in their ill youngster.

The study, commissioned by hygiene and health company Essity as part of a School Hygiene Essentials Initiative, found almost one in four parents have even asked their child to lie about how unwell they were feeling in order to attend school as normal.

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Liam Mynes, public health manager at Essity, said: ‘Juggling childcare with work can be difficult at the best of times, but when a child is unexpectedly sick, it can be a real challenge working out how to keep them off school and manage your job or workload.

‘However, an unwell child can cause real issues for the school and lead to an illness affecting more children, and teachers too.

‘Through the School Hygiene Essentials Initiative, we’re aiming to help expose and tackle the hygiene issues that are ultimately holding children back when it comes to health, wellbeing and education – one of the critical areas that needs to be addressed is how we stop the spread of illness at schools.’

parents sending unwell children school

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The study also revealed that almost 70 per cent of parents have sent their child into classes with a cold, while 17 per cent have still gone in with diarrhoea or vomiting.

Other children have gone to school with chicken pox, before the spots have fully scabbed over (14 per cent), an ear infection (22 per cent) or a viral infection (19 per cent).

Matthew Burton, headteacher of Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury and star of Educating Yorkshire supports Essity in encouraging discussion around the issue.

He said: ‘For teachers, our main priority is ensuring that pupils are happy and healthy at school so they can achieve their potential.

‘As a parent of two youngsters, I completely understand the challenges parents face when their children are ill.

‘I hope that by talking about different situations, we can help parents and support kids to get the most out of their time at school.’