Q. I am an attendance officer for a school in Manchester. A Year 8 pupil’s family has relocated to Birmingham. This was a planned move and they have provided their new address and new school details. They have been in touch to advise that, whilst the move has gone ahead, the new school has been unable to offer a start date as there have been delays in the admissions process, due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Therefore, their child cannot start school until September. How should I mark the child’s absence?

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A.  There are a couple of issues to explore here which demonstrate the complexities of absence and attendance currently.

As the pupil has moved a significant distance and it would be unreasonable for them to travel to your school, you have legal grounds for removing them from your school roll.  Pupils must only be deleted from the admissions register if the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended, are met. 

Schools must only remove the pupil from roll if one of these grounds are met in full (some have more than one criterion).  8(1)(e) states that a pupil can be removed from roll when ‘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 which he is registered’.

Based on this, you could remove the pupil from your school roll. 

You must inform your local authority (LA) of the removal according to your LA process/protocol.  Your LA should then inform the receiving LA that there is a child/young person in their LA with no school place.  This can then be picked up by the receiving LA’s Children Missing Education team. The exception to this would be if the child has an EHCP team.  In this scenario, you would need to liaise with your LA SEND for their agreement to taking the pupil off roll.

The other area to explore is if the pupil had been given an expected start date at the other school.  Pupils should be placed on roll from their expected start date, not their first day of attendance as per the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended (2016).  I would suggest that the new school could add the child to their admissions and attendance register.  They could then mark the register accordingly (in this case under the current aforementioned guidance ‘X’ code as this is not an eligible year group). The school would not be negatively affected by the child’s non-attendance. The parents and child would be included in whole-school communications and information for the new school they will be attending.  School staff could also be making some contact to establish a relationship and support transition.

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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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