DfE Guidance on Attendance and Vulnerable Young People

25th March 2020
COVID-19 Safeguarding Update (1)

On 22nd March the British Government issued separate guidance on Attendance Recording for Educational settings and on Vulnerable Children and Young People during COVID-19 School Closures.

Attendance Recording

As from 23/03/20 schools have been told that they should not take the normal attendance register. Educational settings will be expected to change their recording practice temporarily and have been asked to submit an attendance spreadsheet to the DfE by Midday each weekday setting out details of the pupils and staff that are present.

Schools should also ensure they have a process in place to check on the welfare of any child in need who does not attend on any day.

Vulnerable Children and Young People

Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those children and young people up to the age of 25 with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

Those who have a social worker include children who have a child protection plan and those who are looked after by the local authority. A child may also be deemed to be vulnerable if they have been assessed as being in need or otherwise meet the definition of Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

The guidance applies to the following establishments:-

  • Registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders)
  • Local authority-maintained schools and academies (both mainstream and special)
  • All alternative provision including pupil referral units
  • Non-maintained special schools
  • Independent special schools
  • General further education (FE) colleges
  • Special post-16 institutions
  • Other post-16 providers


Local authorities will work with trusts and schools to ensure that schools are kept open, but in some cases this will not be possible.

It may not always be possible for children to attend their usual school to ensure that children and staff are kept safe.

In some areas a single school in a local cluster or Multi-Academy Trust is taking on this responsibility for other schools.

If a school is concerned about a child’s vulnerability even though they are not formally under a social worker or a child in need, consideration can be given to offering them a place.

If a parent does not want to bring their vulnerable child to school, the social worker and the school should explore the reasons for this and help to resolve any concerns with the parent.

Schools will be expected to have a process in place to check on the welfare of any child in need who does not attend school on the day.

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)

Any children that are currently on an EHCP will need to have a risk assessment completed by the school and work with the LA and the parents to assess how that child should be supported.

As far as possible LA provision to support children should continue and priority should be given to those children with the most complex needs. Some children may have to attend alternative schools if their needs cannot be met.

Residential Special Schools and Colleges

Govt are recommending that all residential special schools and colleges conduct a risk assessment for the institution and for individual pupils to identify how self-isolation should be managed.

Where possible schools will be continuing to provide support and care to children of key workers and vulnerable children over the Easter holidays.

Alternative Provision Settings

Establishments providing ‘Alternative Provision’ including Pupil Referral Units are being asked by Govt to stay open if feasible as they are dealing with pupils that are considered to be vulnerable and high risk and include:-

  • Permanently excluded and fixed term excluded pupils
  • Pupils with behavioural issues
  • Pupils that need to attend AP because of illness

If an AP cannot stay open, then an assessment of the safeguarding needs would need to take place for each child working with social workers and other agencies.


You can find the relevant guidance in full here.