School attendance: guidance for schools

Guidance on using pupil registers and attendance codes, as well as setting school hours and term dates.


School attendance


This guidance is for:

  • headteachers
  • governors
  • all school staff
  • local authorities
  • providers of alternative provision (for children who can’t go to a mainstream school)

It may also be useful for parents and carers.

It applies 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

This guidance will help you maintain high levels of school attendance and plan school hours, term and holiday dates. It provides information about interventions to address pupils’ poor attendance and behaviour at school.

You should use it alongside the statutory guidance on parental measures for school attendance and behaviour.

Published 25 November 2013
Last updated 18 July 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated section 2 of the 'School attendance' guidance to include information on changes to school day and school week.

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

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

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

  5. First published.