Absence and attendance coding

The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 set out the circumstances in which absences can be authorised. In summary these are;

  • when leave is granted due to exceptional circumstances
  • by sickness or unavoidable cause
  • due to religious observance
  • when a child is eligible for free home-to-school transport, and a necessary application for such transport has been made on behalf of the child, but the relevant local authority has failed to provide such transport assistance.

Headteachers must adhere to the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 and the 2013 amendment when considering how absences should be recorded, and code in accordance with Department of Education attendance guidance.

Schools should have clear procedures in place to follow up any absence concerns including first day calling. This will be outlined in their Attendance and Punctuality Policy or embedded into their Behaviour Policy.

Pupils must not be marked present if they were not in school during registration, they must be recorded as absent: this can be authorised or unauthorised. An absence may be unauthorised if:

  • the reason for absence is not accepted by the school
  • no reason for absence is provided by parent/carer after a reasonable amount of time.

Pupils arriving late but before the register has closed should be marked as 'L'. Pupils arriving after the register has closed should be marked absent with code U (unauthorised absence), or another absence code if more appropriate. Schools should have a policy on how long registers should be kept open; this should be for a reasonable length of time but not that registers are to be kept open for the whole session.

Pupils attending an Approved Off-Site Education Activity should be coded in line with the Department of Education guidance.

Please note that parents do not have the authority to authorise absences.

Parents with questions relating to the attendance of their child and how this is recorded, should contact their child’s school to discuss. The Local Authority does not and cannot ratify or change a headteacher’s decision regarding absences and to do so would amount to an unlawful act. Therefore, this decision lies solely with the headteacher at the school and is not a local authority matter.

Where there is significant unauthorised absence and the school have evidence that appropriate support and intervention has taken place to address the absence, then a referral may be made to Warwickshire Attendance Service for further escalation. This could result in the issuing of penalty notices or prosecution under section 444(1) and 444 (1a) of the Education Act 1996

The Warwickshire Attendance Service have the authority to consider issuing fixed penalty notices for non-school attendance and leave of absence in line with the Warwickshire County Council’s Non-School Attendance and Penalty Notices Code of Conduct.

If you need further information, please contact the Warwickshire Attendance Service on 01926 413777.