Pupils on extended, unauthorised leave abroad - Guide for mainstream schools

We remind schools to always follow the DFE off-rolling regulations Working together to improve school attendance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) prescribed as the grounds on which the name of a pupil of compulsory school age shall be deleted from the admission register.

Please see the regulation 8 codes. This guidance does not apply to children who are still in the UK but not attending school; these pupils should be treated as an attendance issue and must remain on roll. Please discuss these cases with your Link Attendance Officer.

Where schools have pupils who are currently abroad, we would ask that you encourage families to return to the UK as soon as possible in every instance. School attendance continues to be mandatory for all pupils of compulsory school age, and it is a priority to ensure that all children regularly attend school. Parents travelling abroad during term time, should bear in mind the impact on their child’s education and the possibility of losing the child’s place at the school.

The expectations to keeping a pupil on roll, must be made clear to parents before any decision is taken to remove from roll, so that they fully understand that in choosing not to return to the UK and resume statutory school attendance, that the place may become available to offer out to another child. Please see the advised expectations below:

  • Evidence supporting the reason for the child’s absence.
  • It is the parent’s responsibility to provide this evidence. The school are not responsible for finding this information and are not obliged to accept the evidence you provide if they do not feel it is sufficient.
  • The address at which the child is staying
  • The details and contact information of the adult responsible for the child’s care while they are staying at this address and their relationship to the child.
  • An evidenced return date confirming the intention to return within a reasonable time (travel documents such as flight tickets would be suitable). If the parent is unable to provide an evidenced return date a reason for this must be provided along with any available evidence supporting this statement.
  • The parent must agree to a contact schedule to allow the school to be able to see or speak to both the child and the adult caring for them on a weekly basis. We would advise that you put this information in writing to the parent as soon as you become aware that the child is abroad without the school’s permission. A template letter is available – please see Appendix 1. It is advisable to send this letter to the parents by both email and in hard copy. Please fully consider each case on its own merit; considering the family circumstances (particularly if the pupil has a social worker or an EHCP), any evidence the family have provided to support the reason for travel and your own investigations.

In some specific cases where there are genuine and documented reasons for a delay in returning school /the UK/, code Y (unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances) may apply. Further guidance about the use of codes is provided in the school attendance guidance.

In such cases, and where a pupil is to be kept on roll, you should support them with distance learning, where possible and appropriate and this should be reviewed regularly. You should ensure that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can successfully access remote education.

Pupils with an EHCP

For pupils with an EHCP in a mainstream school, please follow this same process with the following additional steps:

  1. Please ensure the school’s SENCO is informed and they contact the SEN case worker at the Local Authority so they are both aware of the pupil’s absence.
  2. If you do decide that the pupil will be removed from roll, you must inform the SEN team so that the plan can be ceased. (If you fail to do so, the plan will remain in place, and you will remain the named school) Please be aware that if the child returns to Ealing, you may be asked to re-admit the child under the SEND code of practice. If the parent fails to meet the expectations set out in the first letter sent to them, and after carefully considering the circumstances and all available evidence, the school takes the decision to remove the pupil from roll, please follow the procedure below:
    1. Write to the parent advising them of the date the pupil will be removed from roll if they have not returned. It is advisable to send all letters to the parents by both email and in hard copy. This letter should be sent at least ten school days from the pupil’s last attendance and the date the school advise the pupil will be removed from roll must be at least twenty school days from the pupil’s last attendance.
    2. Forward a copy of the letter sent to the parent to cme@ealing.gov.uk on the day it is sent, along with a completed reasonable enquiry form Please make sure you provide as much information as possible and have completed all relevant fields. The case will be jointly held with your link attendance officer as an attendance issue until you advise that the pupil has been removed from roll. We will also contact the parent to reiterate the seriousness of the situation.
    3. If the pupil has not returned by the date advised in your previous letter to the parent, and the school takes the decision to off roll, please write to the parent advising this has been done and forward the letter to cme@ealilng.gov.uk and your link attendance officer (and the child’s SEN Caseworker if they have an EHCP).
    4. The Regulation 8 code most applicable in this situation is: 8.—(1) (e) except in the case of a boarder, that he has ceased to attend the school and no longer ordinarily resides at a place which is a reasonable distance from the school at which he is registered
  • Children missing education, School attendance service: cme@ealing.gov.uk020 8825 5517
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Last updated: 30 Oct 2023

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