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Calls for school absence guidance to be withdrawn

Calls to withdraw a leaflet advising parents on when to keep their sick children off school has been backed by doctors organisations.

Produced by the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service (CSCJES) for the councils covering Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Vale of Glamorgan the leaflet advises parents not to keep their children at home if they are suffering from glandular fever, tonsillitis or conjunctivitis.

Dr Mair Parry, child health officer in Wales for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the leaflet may need to be withdrawn as the table listing advice for different illnesses had been "taken out of context".

"It's not actually about the child who has the condition - it's about the children who don't yet have it and how to limit the chances of them getting it," she said.

"Whilst I understand the teachers' need to manage school absences parents feel very strongly when it comes to absence because of illness, which is only a small part of school absences.

"They [parents] are the best judge of whether their child is well enough.

"Whether their child is still contagious or not is a more medical question."

However, the advice was said to have caused "confusion and anger" among parents with Mair conceeding that "They [parents] are the best judge of whether their child is well enough.”

Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black has written to the councils and the Welsh government asking for the advice to be changed.

He 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."

The advice on whether sick children should attend school comes as Welsh education watchdog Estyn wants high school attendance improved.