Skip to main content

Summary of advice to schools and settings to keep a record of attendance.

First published:
20 September 2021
Last updated:

Attendance in schools and settings

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have issued guidance indicating that very few children are clinically extremely vulnerable and as a result many of the children previously advised to shield are no longer required to do so. Where a parent/carer wishes their child to attend school, arrangements should be put in place to support attendance and the relevant information incorporated into risk assessments.

Schools and settings should keep a record of attendance and families should notify their school if their child is unable to attend and explain the reason for this to enable the school to record attendance correctly.

In many cases the anxieties will relate to health vulnerabilities, such as when a child or family member is clinically extremely vulnerable within the household or wider family; or where children have come in to contact with someone with COVID-19. In these circumstances schools and local authorities should work with the family to reassure the family of the safety measures in place with a view to supporting their return to school.  In all circumstances, it is vital the school continues to engage regularly with the learner remotely. The Welsh Government Learning guidance may be helpful to support this. 

Under the current circumstances the Welsh Government’s view remains that punitive measures, including fines, may not be appropriate, except in a small number of cases relating to persistent absence which are unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic; where there are concerns about the welfare of the child; and where there have been extensive efforts to try and re-engage with the family by the school and / or the Education Welfare Service.  Authorities should continue to follow guidance set out in the All Wales Attendance Framework.

Any concerns about engagement, or the welfare of a learner, should be followed up immediately by the school. Concerns should only be escalated to the Education Welfare Service after the school has made every attempt to engage the family. During these times a multi-agency approach is critical and if the school has any concerns about the harm, neglect or abuse of learners this should be reported to the Designated Safeguarding Person who will liaise with children’s services and other agencies as appropriate.

Punitive measures should only be used where all other attempts to engage have been exhausted.  Schools may wish to use a bespoke plan to support transition to face to face learning at the earliest opportunity. Children and young people under 18 are no longer required to self-isolate unless they have symptoms themselves or have tested positive, or are requested to do so by TTP or have received advice from their clinician. However we recognise that some anxiety will remain amongst some families around the risks of COVID-19. Engagement should be ongoing with the family so that schools, settings and local authorities understand any barriers to learners returning to school and identify any further support that may be needed to enable a full return to the educational setting at the earliest opportunity.

In addition, we would expect schools to take into consideration individual circumstances such as if a parent has tested positive for COVID-19 and the child has no other means of getting to school.

Following consultation, the Welsh Government has revoked the School Performance and Absence Targets (Wales) Regulations 2011 (in force from 7 August 2020). As a result, schools are not required to set targets for future years or report on those previously set for 2019 to 2020 onwards. However, the annual attendance data collections will continue.

Schools should record attendance and absence in keeping with the following codes; guidance on when they should be used follows the summary.

What code should be used?

Code Meaning Statistical category
/ Attending school in the am Present
\ Attending school in the pm Present
[ Remote learning due to COVID-19 (where a learner is shielding or self-isolating) Not required to attend
; Illness due to COVID-19 Authorised absence
Y School-directed absence due to COVID-19 (to include remote learning) Not required to attend

All other codes apply as per the guidance on school attendance.

/\ (code for learners who attend school)

All children in the expected intake for that day should be recorded as present /\ upon arrival at their school or setting.

[ (temporary code for remote learning due to COVID-19)

This includes individual learners who are unable to physically attend school for reasons understood and agreed by the school. They should be recorded as code [.

This code will apply to learners with symptoms of COVID-19; and those where shielding has been recommended by their clinician or they have been advised to self-isolate by TTP. This code should not be used for groups of learners directed not to attend by the school; in those circumstances, code Y should be used.

This code should not be used if the learner has a confirmed case of COVID-19. In such a case the code ; should be used.

Schools must engage with parents/carers to understand why learners are not attending and ensure there are not any concerns about learners’ well-being or alternative support options that could be arranged to enable them to attend. Any concerns should be followed up by the school or setting, and where relevant by the local authority. The school should review the situation with the learner and parents/carers on a regular basis to avoid any prolonged absence.

The temporary code will be used for analysis of our informal weekly data collection but [ will be mapped to the X code for the statutory primary and secondary attendance collections and statistical purposes.

; (code for a confirmed case of COVID-19)

Code ; should be used if the learner has been notified they have a confirmed case of COVID-19. This would only apply when they have a positive test result and are self-isolating and the school has been notified accordingly.

The temporary code ; is for school use only and schools should remind all SIMS users of their duty of confidentiality. The code will not be used for analysis of the Welsh Government’s informal weekly data collection but ; will be mapped to the I code.

Y (code for school-directed absence)

Code Y should be used for school-directed absence, rather than for individuals under code [, and will also involve remote learning. This would happen when the school identifies the need for learners to self-isolate due to a confirmed case in school. Code Y should also be used in event of partial or full closure due to COVID-19; this includes when the school does not have sufficient staff capacity, or a school is closed due to a lockdown. This code should not be used for inset days which should be recorded as code #.

Measuring COVID-19 related absence

During the pandemic there has been much press and public interest in understanding the extent to which the pandemic has impacted on attendance at school. We also need to be able to monitor the impact to inform our current response and to facilitate any future research into the longer term impact. To achieve this we will be measuring COVID-19 related absence using the “[” and “Y” codes by classifying them as authorised absence. This change is purely for statistical purposes and will allow us to meet the demand for this information by publishing weekly data on COVID-19 related absence.

Local Authorities and schools should continue to use the categories in the tables above for their day to day recording of attendance.

Using other authorised absence and attendance codes

In line with our guidance on school attendance codes an agreed family holiday authorised by the headteacher will be coded as H, and an agreed extended holiday will be coded as F. A family holiday not agreed by the head teacher, or in excess of what was agreed, will be coded as G. On return from the holiday some families will be required to self-isolate if they have travelled from a non-exempt country. This period of self-isolation should be recorded in accordance with the code used for the family holiday.

Where other specific authorised absence and attendance codes are more appropriate schools should use those as usual.