COVID-19 Attendance / Exclusions
COVID-19 Attendance / Exclusions
All coronavirus guidance for educational settings can now be found in one place on GOV.UK: Guidance for educational settings
From the start of the autumn term 2020 pupil attendance will be mandatory and the usual rules on attendance will apply, including: parents’ duty to ensure that their child of compulsory school age attends regularly at the school where the child is a registered pupil. Schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence. The ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices, in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct.
New for 2020 to 2021 – not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Although school attendance is mandatory from the start of the autumn term, there are some circumstances where pupils cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
To make sure schools record this accurately and consistently, we have made changes to the regulations governing school attendance registers to add a new category of non-attendance – ‘not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)’. Pupils not attending a session who meet the criteria for ‘not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)’ should be recorded using code X. (Schools should continue to use code X for non-compulsory school aged pupils who are not expected to attend a session, as they did before the outbreak.)
This category must only be used to record sessions that take place in the 2020 to 2021 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 coronavirus (COVID-19) from Public Health England (PHE) and/or the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)3
- prohibited by any legislation (or instruments such as statutory directions) relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19)
In line with the Secretary of State’s expectation that no parent will be penalised for following official public health advice for their child not to attend a given session, this new category of non-attendance will not count as an absence (authorised or unauthorised) for statistical purposes.
Examples in which ‘not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)’ could apply.
Pupils who are required to self-isolate as they, or a member of their household, has symptoms or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19). Pupils who are required to self-isolate because they are a close contact of someone who has symptoms or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19). Pupils who are required by legislation to self-isolate as part of a period of quarantine. Pupils who are clinically extremely vulnerable in a future local lockdown scenario only. A Local lockdown.
If a pupil is not attending school due to circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19), we expect schools to be able to immediately 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.
Collection of school attendance data as part of the school census will resume in January 2021, collecting data for the autumn term 2020. Subject to the necessary legislation being made, from January 2021, the census will collect attendance codes in addition to absence codes.
Does the School behaviour and attendance statutory guidance still apply?
The statutory guidance for schools, local authorities and the police on dealing with poor attendance and behaviour in schools has been updated.
Both the schools guidance and the parent guidance documents have been updated to reflect changes due to coronavirus.
Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, the government have disapplied certain statutory provisions so that the parent of a child of compulsory school age is not guilty of an offence on account of the child’s failure to attend regularly at the school at which the child is registered (section 444 of the Education Act 1996). This means that parents will not be penalised if their child does not attend school.
The government has just released new guidance on changes to the school exclusion process during the coronavirus outbreak.(29th May) including having meetings remotely and timescales.
The arrangements come into force on 1 June 2020 and will apply to all exclusions occurring from then until 24 September 2020 (inclusive of those dates).
Governing boards’ duties to consider reinstatement of excluded pupils, and the process for independent review panels (IRPs)
The DfE issued the below guidance on the 9th April:
The timeframes set out in the School Discipline (Pupil Exclusions and Reviews) (England) Regulations 2012 remain in force. This applies to all exclusions, including those that were issued before 23 March 2020.
The government appreciates that it may not be possible to meet the timeframes set out in regulations for review meetings and IRPs, due to the disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), and the health risks of holding meetings. The Regulations themselves envisage that the timeframes may not always be met, which is why they specify that meetings and panel hearings must still go ahead even if the relevant deadline has been missed. It is for the governing board, or arranging authority, to assess the facts of the case, and decide whether the statutory deadlines are achievable or whether, in the circumstances, the meeting has to be delayed or alternative technology (such as telephone or video conference facilities) should be used. Governing boards and arranging authorities should continue to take reasonable steps to ensure meetings are arranged for a time when all parties are able to attend.
The Government have announced an expansion to the codes used for exclusions with the code “other” consequently being withdrawn. These are detailed in full in the Buckinghamshire Exclusion Guidance which can be found on the Exclusion & Reintegration page on Schools web.