Children are being punished for having a day off school – by denying them a free ice cream.
Pupils at West Horndon Primary School in Essex with an almost full attendance record at the end of each half-term - which equates to taking less than a day off - are rewarded with membership of 'The 99ers Club', entitling them to a free ice-cream.
But kids who fall short of the benchmark are made to wait indoors while their classmates go to collect their cornets from the van outside – an initiative that has left some parents fuming.
They have written to the headteacher Matt O'Grady saying children as young as five are too young to understand why they are not allowed an ice-cream.
One parent, who did not want to be named, said: "It's created merry hell as you can imagine - it's outrageous. The ones who didn't get it were left in the classroom watching the ice-cream van.
"At the end of the day you're talking about pretty young kids who just don't understand it. The kids in Years 1 and 2, they didn't understand what was going on."
However, Mr O'Grady said the trial scheme had been well received by the majority of parents, as well as the local educational welfare officer.
He said: "It is not unusual for primary schools to run reward schemes for attendance as we have a duty to encourage and promote good performance.
"Whilst still in a trial period, initial feedback from the scheme is positive with parents and the local school education welfare officer being supportive.
"We of course acknowledge that some of our pupils are very young so we have spent considerable time explaining the scheme and the importance of good school attendance to them at the launch of the scheme and throughout the term.
"The age of our pupils also played a factor in deciding that we run this on a half term basis, so that every child has the opportunity to have a fresh start.
"In our experience reward schemes help improve the attendance of pupils, ultimately giving them improved educational outcomes which is key to the school ethos of providing the best education possible."
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