Pupils on extended, unauthorised leave abroad - Guide for SEN 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. Expectations must be made clear to parents regarding required safeguarding information, regular contact and a reasonable, evidenced return date as soon as possible.

Expectations of parents and schools

It is the parent’s responsibility to provide evidence supporting the reason for the child’s absence.

The school is not responsible for finding this information and are not obliged to accept the evidence provided if they do not feel it is sufficient.

Information needed:

  • 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.

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.

Letter templates

Here are the stages and letter templates schools can follow for pupils on extended, unauthorised leave abroad in SEN schools

  • 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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