School attendance: guidance for schools

Covers registers and attendance codes (including circumstances due to coronavirus (COVID-19)), school hours and term dates, and improving school attendance.



These documents apply to:

  • schools maintained by the local authority
  • academies and free schools
  • pupil referral units (for children who can’t go to a mainstream school)
  • non-maintained special schools (schools for children with special educational needs that the Secretary of State for Education has approved under section 342 of the Education Act 1996)
  • independent schools for pupil registers

From 1 September 2020 all education settings should also fill in the educational settings status form.

About these documents

Main guidance

This should be read in conjunction with the statutory guidance on parental measures for school attendance and behaviour.


This explains changes made to regulations governing school attendance registers in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) and should be used from 24 August 2020 to the end of the 2020 to 2021 academic year.

Improving school attendance: support for schools and local authorities

This contains principles for an effective whole school strategy for attendance and actions that schools and local authorities can take.

Published 25 November 2013
Last updated 1 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added 'Securing full attendance: support for schools and local authorities' and updated details text to clarify how these documents can be used.

  2. Added 'Addendum' document, updated main guidance document with information about coronavirus (COVID-19) and edited 'details' text to explain the role of the 2 documents for the 2020 to 2021 academic year.

  3. Updated guidance to 30 June 2020.

  4. Updated to reflect changes made under the Coronavirus Act 2020 concerning school attendance.

  5. Updated section 2 of the 'School attendance' guidance to include information on changes to school day and school week.

  6. Replaced 'school attendance' guide with updated version to include advice on making arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

  7. Updated to reflect the 2016 amendments to the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006.

  8. Replaced document to include updates to the section on Code C, on page 9.

  9. First published.