SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AND ABSENCE              Independent advice, support and training                                                               


UPDATED 03.07.20 (England only)



3rd September 10.00

Booking details here


The Government's plan is that attendance will become compulsory again for all pupils from September, unless there are specific exemptions. There may yet be some local variation and things could of course change again before then.


I wonder if more parents will opt for home education? Many have enjoyed the experience and the freedom to organise their own programme, though obviously many will also be keen for their children to return to school, as long as it is safe to do so.  And can we really expect fines and enforcement to be central, as the DfE seems to assume? There's no evidence they worked before, especially with already-disadvantaged families. And what about termtime holidays? If these aren't 'exceptional circumstances' what would be? Many parents have vouchers that they have to use sometime or have leave owing to them after working through. And will everything be 'normal' by September? We'll see.


The wider reopening Guidance is now available which includes general statements about returning to the previous legal attendance requirements. Futher specific advice on registration is promised later.




Current registration arrangements based on DfE advice:


'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, (including online sessions), code X should be used'.





Everyone has their own priorities when it comes to why we are involved with attendance and absence. This is the basis of any work that I do or advice that I give:


1. Education is an entitlement for all children. But it doesn't always have to be done in the same way for them all. There should be differentiation here as well as in the curriculum. Education doesn't only happen in schools. We need new kinds of more equal partnerships with parents, not one based on authority and compliance. We are no longer living in the C19th when just an educated few held all the cards. Children are more likely to come, and their parents are more likely to engage positively, if their needs, including their pastoral and practical needs, are being met.


2. Although I don't always agree with it, (and I'll make it clear when I don't) my advice will always be in accordance with legal Regulations and Guidance. I don't just make it up and I don't think anyone else should. Everyone involved in this work should have read them and know what their own legal duties are, not assume they all lie only with parents or children.


3. It's not just about achieving good data. I could do that for any school without a single actual extra attendance. The data is a means to an end, not the end in itself. I am not therefore a great fan of 'league tables'. Schools and the communities they serve are not all the same and crude comparisons are generally unfair. Schools cannot control what is happening in children's lives outside or be expected to address all society's ills.


4. Absence is not merely a (bad) behaviour issue. Fines and other threats of enforcement are outdated and ineffective. They are just a lazy response to the symptoms and do nothing to address the causes. I can live with the odd family holiday. I understand that some families live chaotically or have other pressures in their lives. Many children have issues with their mental health which can present as 'school 'refusal' or disaffection. If the issue is about parenting, that's about welfare, safeguarding and support, which need a multi-agency approach, not a pointless penalty sent in a brown envelope.


5. The needs of children, not schools, should always be at the centre of what we do. Fortunately it nearly always is because we have brilliant and caring staff on the case most of the time. Unfortunately, governments rarely seem to appreciate them!



I have pretty much retired from education welfare work but you can still find information on the present arrangements for SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AND ABSENCE here. LAST UPDATED 3rd JULY. As things develop, I may offer some new distance learning packages later. Or CONTACT ME at any time. Enquiries from parents or schools are welcome. 


RE-THINKING CHRISTIANITY This website now mainly 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 this page you'll find details of how to purchase my book 'The Apostate's Creed'. Plus a PowerPoint (with audio) on 'Who wrote the Bible'?; 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 three are all free.


On the WHITTER page you'll find an occasional extended reflection. Currently: 'What is the Bible anyway'?


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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