How to keep records of children attending school during the pandemic.
How should we record attendance in Wales?
Schools and education settings should keep a record of attendance and families should notify their setting if their child is unable to attend. This will help schools, settings and local authorities plan for and understand any barriers to learners returning to school and identify any further support needed. Where children are not attending, particularly due to parental/carer choice, the school should keep in regular communication with the child and family to ensure their well-being needs are met. Where schools have done all they can to engage with families through different methods of communication the Education Welfare Service can support schools with any further support needed.
We would not expect families to send children to school against their will and in the current climate it would not be appropriate for local authorities or schools to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs). However, educational settings should communicate effectively with parents and carers to ensure that they fully understand how the risks of transmission are being mitigated and to reassure families that settings are safe to attend.
It will not be safe for some learners and staff to attend school and these categories are explained further in our operational guidance for schools. More detail on who falls into the extremely vulnerable and vulnerable categories is available.
Schools should record attendance and absence in keeping with the codes below until further notice. This guidance on recording attendance will be reviewed regularly as the situations develops.
Attendance data for academic years impacted by the ongoing disruption to school operations should not be used as part of normal school accountability arrangements. The Welsh Government has previously advised schools and local authorities that requirements set out in the School Performance and Absence Targets (Wales) Regulations 2011 will be removed, subject to legislation. Schools will then not be required to report on targets in relation to absence for the 2019/20 academic year, or set targets for the 2020/21 academic year.
What code should be used?
All children in the expected intake for that day or in a priority group (children of critical workers and vulnerable children) should be recorded as present upon arrival at their school or education setting.
The code for learners who are not expected to attend a session
Any learner who is not in the expected intake for that day or in a priority group (children of critical workers and vulnerable children) should be recorded as Code Y (not required to be in school).
The code for learners who are in the expected intake for a session but do not attend due to shielding, self-isolation or other reasons
This includes children who are in the expected intake for a session or a priority group (children of critical workers and vulnerable children) but are not in attendance due to a learner shielding or self-isolating. They should be recorded as Code C (other authorised circumstances (not covered by another appropriate code and description). Code C can be used until further notice where a learner is prevented from attending school due to following government guidance on coronavirus.
Where a learner does not attend school when they are expected to attend but they are not shielding or self-isolating and no other authorised absence code is appropriate the non-attendance should be recorded as Code C. This would include a learner whose family is not reassured about the health risks associated with attending and anxious about sending their child to school. Where this is the case parents and carers should notify the school at the earliest opportunity that their child will not be attending and say why.
Until further notice all absence should be classed as authorised but as mentioned above schools must engage with parents/carers to understand why they are not attending and ensure there are not any concerns about their well-being needs. Any concerns should be followed up by the school or education setting and where relevant the local authority.
The code for learners who are in the expected intake for a session but cannot attend due to illness
Where a learner cannot attend school due to illness, as would normally be the case, the learner should be recorded as Code I (illness).
Using other authorised absence and attendance codes
Where other specific authorised absence and attendance codes are more appropriate schools may want to use these as usual, such as Code M (medical appointment).