Working together to improve school attendance: guidance summary

Get to grips with the DfE’s non-statutory guidance on improving school attendance. Be clear on your expectations on taking a whole-school approach, analysing attendance data, and engaging with families to understand barriers to attendance.

Last reviewed on 10 March 2023
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 44743
  1. Headlines from the guidance 
  2. Develop a whole-school culture that promotes the benefits of high attendance
  3. Have a school attendance policy
  4. Have day-to-day processes to follow up absence
  5. Monitor and analyse data to identify those that need support
  6. Engage with families, understand barriers to attendance and work together to remove them
  7. Provide additional support for pupils with medical conditions or SEND
  8. Share information and work collaboratively with others
  9. A new focus on persistent and severe absence 
  10. Find out what the DfE expects from other stakeholders 

Headlines from the guidance 

The DfE's guidance on working together to improve school attendance:

  • Came into force in September 2022 and replaced the previous school attendance guidance 
  • Describes in detail what the DfE expects from you and other stakeholders – you're likely doing much of this already 
  • Is non-statutory for now. It was set to become statutory with the Schools Bill that's been scrapped by the government. We don’t know if the government will take new steps towards making this guidance statutory in the future
  • Sits alongside the non-statutory DfE guidance on mental health issues affecting a pupil's attendance, which came into effect in February 2023

Develop a whole-school culture that promotes the benefits of high attendance

The guidance explains that schools with good attendance recognise the importance of embedding attendance into the school's ethos and culture.   

Make good attendance a central part