Attendance drive in schools

18th April 2024

Image of school pupils walking in a corridor

Earlier this year the Department for Education (DfE) announced that from August 2024 every state school in England will be required to share its daily attendance registers.

The DfE has for some time now been taking steps in an effort to drive up pupil attendance at schools following the Covid-19 pandemic. It is hoped that, by sharing daily attendance registers with the DfE, local authorities, and trusts, schools will be equipped with an attendance data set which will help them to target and support children who are persistently absent from school, or who are in danger of becoming missing in education.

This data set will be accessible by schools, trusts and local authorities via an interactive secure data dashboard maintained by the DfE. This will not only allow schools to drill down into pupil attendance and those who need support, but will provide a far broader picture of local and national attendance figures to highlight areas where improvement needs to be driven. This will allow them easy use of the data to not only spot pupils in need of support but also to understand how their attendance position compares locally and nationally so they can look at where they might need to drive improvements.

This announcement forms part of broader changes to attendance requirements in August 2024, as from 19 August 2024 the DfE’s guidance “working together to improve school attendance” will be made statutory, providing clear requirements to schools in respect of how they must take a ‘support-first’ approach to help pupils and their families to tackle barriers to attendance.

The DfE will also introduce a national framework which governs parent fines for unauthorised absences. This will mean that parental fines must be considered if a child misses five days of school for unauthorised absence. Fines will also increase, rising from £60 to £80 if paid within 21 days and from £120 to £160 if paid in 28 days.

Schools should review their attendance policies to ensure that they accord with the current guidance which will become statutory in August 2024.

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