Services for children

School attendance from September 2021

This guidance should be use in conjunction with school attendance service level agreement (SLA)

Contents

DfE links to school attendance guidance for schools:

School attendance: guidance for schools.

Improving school attendance: support for schools and local authorities

Addendum: recording attendance in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) during the 2021 to 2022 academic year DfE have amended regulations to enable schools, in the 2021 to 2022 academic year, to continue to record where a pupil does not attend in circumstances relating to COVID-19:

How to complete the educational setting status form

Schools COVID-19 operational guidance

Operational guidance

*The government continues to manage the risk of serious illness from the spread of the virus. Step 4 marked a new phase in the government’s response to the pandemic, moving away from stringent restrictions on everyone’s day-to-day lives, towards advising people on how to protect themselves and others, alongside targeted interventions to reduce risk.

As COVID-19 becomes a virus that we learn to live with, there is now an imperative to reduce the disruption to children and young people’s education - particularly given that the direct clinical risks to children are extremely low, and every adult has been offered a first vaccine and the opportunity for 2 doses by mid-September.

The priority is for schools to deliver face-to-face, high-quality education to all pupils. The evidence is clear that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health.

The DfE expect independent schools to follow the control measures in the same way as state-funded schools, and health and safety legislation applies equally to independent schools.

Additional operational guidance is also available for special schools, special post-16 providers and alternative provision.

Schools should:

  • Ensure good hygiene for everyone.
  • Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes.
  • Keep occupied spaces well ventilated.
  • Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Attendance expectations

School attendance is mandatory for all pupils of compulsory school age, and it is a priority to ensure that as many children as possible regularly attend school.

Where a child is required to self-isolate or quarantine because of COVID-19 in accordance with relevant legislation or guidance published by PHE or the DHSC they should be recorded as code X (not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus). Where they are unable to attend because they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should be recorded as code I (illness).

For pupils abroad who are unable to return, code X is unlikely to apply. In some specific cases, code Y (unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances) will apply. Further guidance about the use of codes is provided in the school attendance guidance.

The usual rules on attendance continue to apply, including:

  • Parents to perform their legal duty by ensuring their children of compulsory school age who are registered at school attend regularly.
  • Schools to continue to communicate clearly and consistently the expectations around school attendance to families (and any other professionals who work with the family where appropriate)
  • Schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence
  • Identify pupils who are reluctant or anxious about attending or who are at risk of disengagement and develop plans for re-engaging them. This should include disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people, especially those who were persistently absent prior to the pandemic or who have not engaged with the school regularly during the pandemic
  • Ensure every pupil has access to full-time education to which they are entitled; and act early to address patterns of absence.
  • Families should notify their school as normal if a child is unable to attend on any given day and provide regular updates for on-going absence
  • The ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices, in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct
  • The duty on local authorities to put in place arrangements for identifying, and to follow up with, children missing education.

Clinically extremely vulnerable children

All clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) children and young people should attend their education setting unless they are one of the very small number of children and young people under paediatric or other specialist care who have been advised by their clinician or other specialist not to attend.

Further information is available in the guidance on supporting pupils at school with medical conditions.

Admitting children into school

In most cases, parents and carers will agree that a pupil with symptoms should not attend the school, given the potential risk to others.

If a parent or carer insists on a pupil attending your school, you can take the decision to refuse the pupil if, in your reasonable judgement, it is necessary to protect other pupils and staff from possible infection with COVID-19. Consider your decision carefully in line with the circumstances and current public health advice.

View link at: Health and safety: responsibilities and duties for schools - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Not attending in circumstances relating to COVID-19

This category must be used to record sessions that take place in the 2021 to 2022 academic year where a pupil does not attend because their travel to, or attendance at, school would be:

  • contrary to guidance relating to the incidence or transmission of COVID-19 from Public Health England (PHE), or its successor UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), and/or the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)
  • prohibited by any legislation (or instruments such as statutory directions) relating to the incidence or transmission of COVID-19

This category must only be used to record where a pupil is not attending for the reasons set out above. It should not be used to record any other type of non-attendance or absence - for example, where a parent or pupil is anxious about attending school because of COVID-19.

The schools COVID-19 operational guidance sets out when pupils should self-isolate and when they ought to be tested in the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

Examples of when not attending in circumstances relating to COVID-19 could apply

In line with current legislation, and guidance from PHE (and its successor the UKHSA) and DHSC, examples are as follows.

Pupils who are required to self-isolate as they have symptoms or confirmed COVID-19

Pupils who have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test, should self-isolate and get a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

If a pupil tests negative and if they feel well, they can stop self-isolating and return to school. If the pupil remains unwell following the test (such as with a different illness), then they should be recorded as code I (illness). Code X should only be used up until the time of the negative test result. Schools should not retrospectively change the attendance register due to a negative test result.

If a pupil tests positive, they should continue to self-isolate in line with public health guidance. Code X should be used for the period of self-isolation until the test. After the pupil tests positive, they should be recorded as code I (illness) until they are able to return to school.

Pupils who are a close contact of someone who has symptoms or confirmed COVID-19

Pupils who are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to self-isolate. They should instead get a PCR test and should only self-isolate if they test positive. If they do test positive, they should be recorded as code I (illness) until they are able to return to school.

Pupils who are required by legislation to self-isolate as part of a period of quarantine

As usual, parents should plan their holidays within school breaks and avoid seeking permission to take their children out of school during term time. Families should also consider that their child may need to self-isolate following trips overseas that require a period of quarantine. If a pupil is required to be in quarantine on arrival in, or return to, the UK, the school should use code X in the register.

Pupils who are clinically extremely vulnerable when shielding is advised

Clinically extremely vulnerable people are no longer advised to shield. All clinically extremely vulnerable pupils should attend their education setting unless they are one of the very small number of children and young people under paediatric or other specialist care who have been advised by their clinician or other specialist not to attend.

If shielding is advised nationally or in a local area again, by DHSC, PHE or UKHSA, then pupils who are clinically extremely vulnerable may be advised not to attend school. Non-attendance in accordance with guidance from DHSC, PHE or UKHSA should be recorded as code X.

Pupils who are self-isolating but who have not had a PCR test

In line with public health advice, pupils with symptoms must self-isolate and schools should strongly encourage pupils to take a PCR test. Where the pupil is unable to take a PCR test, the school should record the pupil as code X in the register. Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Schools should follow up with families if they are not satisfied with the reason as to why the pupil is not in school. Schools can request supporting evidence from the family. Where the school is not satisfied with the reason given for absence, they may record this using one of the unauthorised absence codes, in line with the school attendance: guidance for schools.

Remote education

If a pupil is not attending school because their attendance would be contrary to government guidance or legislation around COVID-19, we expect schools to offer them access to remote education. Schools should keep a record of, and monitor engagement with, this activity, but this does not need to be tracked in the attendance register.

Not all people with COVID-19 have symptoms. Where appropriate, you should support those who need to self-isolate because they have tested positive to work or learn from home if they are well enough to do so. Schools subject to the remote education temporary continuity direction are required to provide remote education to pupils covered by the direction where their attendance would be contrary to government guidance or legislation around COVID-19.

Schools should maintain capacity to deliver high-quality remote education for the next academic year, including for pupils who are abroad, and facing challenges to return due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, for the period they are abroad.

Independent Schools (not including academies) are only covered by the remote education temporary continuity direction in relation to state-funded pupils in their schools. However, they are still expected to meet the Independent School Standards in full at all times.

The remote education provided should be equivalent in length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school.

SEN remote learning

Schools should work collaboratively with families and put in place reasonable adjustments so that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can successfully access remote education.

Full expectations for remote education, support and resources can be found on the get help with remote education service.

Pupil wellbeing and support

Some pupils may be experiencing a variety of emotions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as anxiety, stress, or low mood. You can access useful links and sources of support on promoting and supporting mental health and wellbeing in schools. And on EGFL at: Wellbeing and mental health support for return to school | Ealing Grid for Learning (egfl.org.uk)

How to complete the educational setting status form

How to complete the educational setting status form - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

This is to allow the Department for Education (DfE) to use the data on the same day. If you cannot meet the 2pm deadline, submit the form as soon as you can. Data submitted after the deadline may not be included in DfE daily figures.

Please note: From Friday 1 October, the form will move from daily reporting to weekly to reduce the time schools and colleges spend completing it. This will be kept under review, and should the national situation require, daily reporting may be reinstated.

If your setting is closed, you’ll still need to complete the form every day, so DfE is aware of the closure. You do not need to submit the form if your setting is closed for a planned holiday like half-term.

See more information about who needs to submit the form.

You can get help if you have problems while using the form contact DfE coronavirus helpline Telephone 0800 046 8687

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Last updated: 18 Oct 2021