SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AND ABSENCE              Independent advice, support and training                                                               

UPDATE 03.06.20: In England only: Children in Reception, Y1 and Y6 can now be offered the opportunity to return to school, though it is also recognised that there will be a significant element of local decision-making. Some schools may delay further, open only for limited numbers or not reopen at all beyond what has already been provided. 


FORUM TRAINING are hosting a webinar with me on these issues on June 18th. Booking details HERE.




The DfE has subsequently indicated the following, even though it differs from the published Guidance above:


'Where a school is closed completely for a session (as would usually happen) schools should record a # code (full or partial closure). 

Where a school is open, including only to pupils in a priority group (children of critical workers and vulnerable children) we would ask that schools resume taking attendance registers from 1st June. This includes secondary schools and those unable to extend opening to specified year groups until a later date. For all pupils that are not eligible to attend a session, code X should be used'.


It is also not clear to me whether parents must contact the school each day if they have already indicated their intention not to return the child this term: (use the C mark). But they should let the school know if the absence is only temporary.  All absences are authorised.


In summary:

  • Schools should resume taking an attendance register from June 1st if ANY pupils are able to attend.
  • Registers can be kept open longer to accommodate staggered arrivals. There is no late code.
  • Abences should be recorded only for pupils who COULD have attended that session but didn't. Use the most appropriate code to describe why they were absent, (eg. I for illness or C for other circumstances).
  • If a pupil is shielding, self isolating or has an EHCP and the risk assessment is that they CANNOT currently attend, use Y (unable to attend). This is not an absence.
  • If NO PROVISION  is made for that pupil for that session, use X (not required to attend). This will be by far the most frequent code and is also not an absence.
  • If the pupil actually attends another school or setting, use B (present) for that session. (Otherwise use the relevant absence code). If dual registered use D (discounted) for all sessions.                                                                                                                                                       All schools that are open to any pupils are also expected to complete the DfE educational status form each day. This has caused considerable controversy. I haven't seen it myself but it seems to be very time-consuming and confusing. It is important to be clear that this form is NOT the attendance register and the data is not the same as that collected through the normal Census. 


The idea of other primary Years coming back somewhere before the end of June has been mentioned by Nick Gibb. This would be on a rota basis, (which the June 1st Years should not be), and still for small groups. Currently I think this is unlikely while any kind of social distancing is required and it is hard to see how staff would have the time for it all. Much may depend on how many extra children actually come back before then.


Secondary schools will not 'reopen' fully yet or this will risk spreading the virus. They do now have to mark the register (see above) if any vulnerable/keyworkers' children are coming in, even if no other pupils are. There is an expectation that Y10s and 12s only will receive some 'face to face support' before the end of this term, a quarter  of the students at a time, from June 15th. The amount of contact time is not currently defined. This is in addition to continuing to provide 'high quality' remote learning for all pupils not in school and a programme in school for vulnerable and keyworkers' children in any year group. This remains the priority.


The school will not be held to account for their attendance figures during this time and there will be no published data for the Spring or Summer terms.


Earlier DfE infomation for parents is here.


MARCH 2020: Schools do not currently need to keep the usual attendance register. The correct registration mark in all cases is # (school closed) and no pupil absence data beyond Christmas 2019 will be collected or published. The May Census return (for the Spring term) has been cancelled.




s.444(1) of the Education Act 1996 is suspended. Authorised or unauthorised absences do not exist. Studying at home is to be encouraged and supported, but there is no legal requirement on parents or pupils to take part. Only informal records of participation are required. If you are providing some in-school activities, (not necessarily only for children from your own school), you do need to complete the daily spreadsheet which has been provided by the DfE but this is only for monitoring purposes and is not a 'register'.


Even when schools do return, almost certainly only part-time or just for some children, there will need to be a greater degree of flexibility than before, at least to begin with. The element of compulsion will have to be discussed if life outside school is still widely disrupted. We may need a whole new set of Regulations. It will fundamentally change our 150 year-old system if we accept that full-time attendance at school is no longer necessarily appropriate. The 'otherwise' option has never been taken seriously. Maybe that will lead us to create a C21st range of quality educational offers, possibly mixing school with other kinds of provision, rather than a one size fits all approach with an underlying threat of enforcement. Perhaps it will mean a shift back to focusing on 'welfare', safeguarding and what individual children actually need, not just on counting the data and punishing the occasional term-time holiday.  A brave new world indeed!







I had pretty much retired from education welfare work before the current closures, but I have decided to continue for the time being. I will give you accurate independent advice about attendance and absence which is based on actual Guidance wherever possible. (My main advice has always been to check the Regulations and Guidance before you do anything - it still is!)


You can find information on the present arrangements for SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AND ABSENCE here. LAST UPDATED 3RD JUNE. As things develop, there may be new training packages available later in order to promote best practice. Or CONTACT ME at any time. Enquiries from parents or schools are welcome. 


RE-THINKING CHRISTIANITY This website now also reflects my other main interest: Can Christianity and its central figure mean anything to those who are not convinced that conventional ideas of 'God' and religion take us where we need to go as modern, thoughtful human beings?


On the RESOURCES page you will find a PowerPoint (with audio) on 'Who wrote the Bible'? plus a set of free discussion notes on the classic book from the 1960s, ''Honest to God' and my own studies on the Psalms from 2011, 'Walking without God'. These are all free.


Friendly FEEDBACK is always very welcome. Please let me know if you have found my ideas interesting and helpful.


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All information and advice on this website, and in any electronic communication or face to face work, is given in good faith and is accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief. No personal liability is accepted for the adverse consequences of any unintended factual errors or omissions.

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