Q. The head teacher at my school has agreed with parents an extended staggered start for a Reception pupil for September 2021. The pupil is an August-born child and has never attended an educational setting before. How should I code the sessions in the register when the pupil is not required to attend?

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A. Some schools start their Reception children with a staggered start in September. This is usually for a set period to support their transition into school. The sessions these children are not required to attend should be marked as an X code, as none of the children will be statutory school age, which is starting the term after the child’s fifth birthday.

At the time of writing the X code has two potential uses:

  • Not required to be in school. This code is used to record sessions that non-compulsory school-age children are not expected to attend.
  • For 2020–21, not attending in circumstances relating to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should have access to additional subsets of codes in your EIMS system to help distinguish between these uses, such as Code X01: Non-compulsory school-age pupil not required to be in school.

Your question suggests that the head teacher has agreed a reduced- hours timetable for a particular child beyond this usual transition period and that they will be offered a reduced timetable in comparison with other children in that year group. The pupil is not statutory school age because, as an August-born child, they will not be statutory until the autumn term of Year 1. Therefore, the sessions they are not required to attend should be marked as X code.

I would also draw your attention to some guidance around the use of reduced-hours timetables. All pupils are entitled to receive a full-time education, but there are occasions when a reduced or part-time timetable is acceptable. For example, to:

  • support a child or young person’s attendance at school
  • meet medical or special educational needs
  • reduce levels of anxiety
  • reintegrate from absence.

Use of reduced-hours timetables must always be in the pupil’s best interest. They should only be used as part of a clear action plan based on specialist advice alongside other interventions. Reduced-hour timetables should always be a short-term intervention and are not a long- term solution. The plan for the pupil, including the reduced timetable, must be reviewed regularly. Any reduced timetable and reviews should be documented, and some local authorities will have written protocols or guidance that you should utilise. While the pupil in this scenario is not statutory school age, it would still be best practice to follow this guidance.

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About Author

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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