Q. I’m hoping you can help me. My daughter is competing in an international cheerleading competition in June. She needs three days off from school. This will be after her SATs. The school is only allowing exceptional circumstances for leave. If this leave were to be granted, could she be marked down as educated off-site? As she is training and performing it’s harder than a P.E lesson. I also know that other children who were taking part in a pantomime were marked down as this.

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A.  Children who are licensed to take part in performances such as pantomimes would have their absence recorded as a ‘C’ code as there is specific legislation that governs this. They would only be ‘C’ coded once the licence is agreed by the local education authority.

If the cheerleading competition isn’t governed by performance and entertainment licensing (and the local authority where the child lives would be able to advise on this), then parents would be expected to apply for a leave of absence which school can decide to authorise or unauthorise.

Pupils who are being educated off-site or taking part in approved sporting activity are coded ‘B’ or ‘P’ respectively and these are recorded as statistical present marks. To use these codes, the activity has to have been approved by the school and the school remains responsible for the safeguarding and welfare of pupils.

The ‘B’ code should be used when pupils are present at an off-site educational activity that has been approved by the school. Ultimately schools are responsible for the safeguarding and welfare of pupils educated off-site. Therefore, by using Code B, schools are certifying that the education is supervised and measures have been taken to safeguard pupils.

The ‘P’ code should be used to record the sessions when a pupil is taking part in a sporting activity that has been approved by the school and supervised by someone authorised by the school.

As this activity is an activity parents have engaged their child in independently of school, it is not arranged by school, or supervised by someone approved by school with the relevant Safer Recruitment checks made by school. Therefore they would not be able to use the ‘P’ or ‘B’ code.

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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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