Q. Could you please confirm what the guidance is around the use of the traveller absence code (T). Is there a set number of sessions which this can be used for?

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A. There is an absence code (T) which, in specific circumstances, can be used to record a ‘traveller’ pupil absence. There are several different groups covered by this generic term including Roma, English and Welsh Gypsies, Irish and Scottish Travellers, New Travellers, Circus People, Showmen (fairground people) and Bargees (boat dwellers).

When a pupil from one of these groups is absent due to the family travelling for occupational purposes and where the school has granted a leave of absence following a request from the parent, the school can use the T code (authorised absence).

This code shouldn’t be used to record any other types of absences for these pupils. Where families do not travel for occupational purposes, there are the same expectations and legal requirements for them to attend the school they are on roll at as other pupils, and absences should be classified as either authorised or unauthorised and the relevant code used.

Under The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 there is also the option for these pupils to be dual registered at another school, and in these circumstances the school they are attending would record their attendance/absence in the attendance register and their home school would record their absence as a D code. This allows for these pupils to continue their education in school.

Where a parent has no fixed abode and is engaged in a business or trade that requires them to travel there is an expectation that their child who is registered at a school attends at least 200 sessions in the year.

Where leave of absence is agreed in these circumstances you also need to consider how you will maintain contact with families.

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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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