How’s your Head Count

The start of term is always an interesting and busy time for schools and pupils alike. In terms of school attendance and pupil registrations this is one of the most important points in the year. Have all your old pupils started back? Have all the new pupils you were expecting arrived?

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The start of term is always an interesting and busy time for schools and pupils alike.

In terms of school attendance and pupil registrations this is one of the most important points in the year.  Have all your old pupils started back? Have all the new pupils you were expecting arrived?


When a pupil does not return as expected after the Summer break the school must make reasonable efforts to contact the parents/carers to find out why. This would normally involve a phone call home, a letter or a visit to the home address.

Should no contact be made with parents/carers then a referral must be made to the Local Authority Children Missing Education Officer as a priority to ensure that the pupil can be located wherever possible.

Where the pupil is a new joiner to the school the Education (Pupil Regulations) 2006 make it clear that a pupil becomes a pupil at school “from the beginning of the first day at which the school has agreed, or has been notified, that the pupil will attend the school”. 

The Admissions register is different to the Attendance Register. The attendance register must record whether any pupil who has been admitted to school is present or absent for any session which they were expected to attend.

I would, therefore, argue that in terms of safeguarding the school also has a duty to try, wherever feasible, to ascertain the whereabouts of any new pupil who has not arrived at school as was expected. There are many reasons why this may be the case:

– the parent/carer has decided to home educate rather than place their child in  school.

– the parent/carers have not moved into the area as they were originally planning and therefore the place at school is no longer required.

– the parent/carers have opted to send their child to another school or have opted for private education.

Whatever the case, checks should be made to determine the whereabouts and education plans for all new pupils too. This can be more difficult if address or phone details prove to be inaccurate but as with all returning pupils a referral should be made to the Local Authority CME team if these pupils are also not located. 

Where a pupil’s name is deleted from the admissions register a return should be made to the local authority as soon as the pupil’s name is deleted from the register (Pupil Regulations 2006 Section 12(3)).

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