Q. As a special school, most of our pupils travel to school in transport provided by the local authority. There have been a number of incidents this half term where the transport hasn’t been available due to staffing levels linked to Covid-19. How would we code this absence?

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A. The ‘X’ code is used for Covid-19-related absences – this is when a child cannot attend school or travel to school in line with guidance or legislation relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (Covid-19).

In this scenario, I would suggest that that the child’s non-attendance is due to a lack of local authority transport, not because their attendance would contravene any guidance or legislation regarding a positive case or transmission of Covid-19.

The pupil registration regulations allow for Code Y to be used in these circumstances.  The extract below is taken from the DfE school attendance guidance (August 2020):

‘Code Y: Unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances

This code can be used where a pupil is unable to attend because:

•    The school site, or part of it, is closed due to an unavoidable cause; or

•    The transport provided by the school or a local authority is not available and where the pupil’s home is not within walking distance; or

•    A local or national emergency has resulted in widespread disruption to travel which has prevented the pupil from attending school.’

Both the ‘X’ and the ‘Y’ codes have the same impact on a child’s attendance and neither are counted as an absence.

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Joanne Sierzega

Joanne Sierzega worked for almost 16 years in local authority education welfare. Since then she has established CSAWS (Central School Attendance and Welfare Services Ltd) with two partners. CSAWS comprises a team of education welfare officers who are committed to achieving better outcomes for children by securing regular attendance at school.

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