Unusual circumstances – coronavirus (COVID-19)
Schools must provide pupil level data for pupils who are recorded on the school admission register as at census day, irrespective of whether they attend school on that day. Therefore, pupils who are absent from school on census day, whether the absence is coronavirus (COVID-19) related or for other reasons, should be counted in schools’ census returns in the usual way.
Current funding allocation through the national funding formula (NFF) and the pupil premium is calculated based on the number of pupils on roll and is not affected by pupil non-attendance on census day. However, the universal infant school (UIFSM) funding stream is dependent on whether a pupil attends school on census day.
UIFSM uses the variable ‘school lunch taken’, which is collected in relation to pupils in years R, 1 and 2 (or aged 4 to 6 in year group X) and indicates whether a pupil has taken a school lunch on census day. Where coronavirus (COVID-19) related absences occur and ‘school lunches taken’ are affected, a day and time when the situation is regarded as normal is to be substituted. Schools can use the next normal day, an earlier day in census week or another day that reflects the normal situation. Where other days or times are used, schools must record these for audit purposes.
However, there are some scenarios which do not qualify as an unusual circumstance and therefore pupils must be recorded as not having taken a school lunch. This includes:
- if the school kitchen is closed and the school have not offered any alternative provision
- pupils who have changed their preference to bring a packed lunch
- pupils are absent for other reasons not connected to coronavirus (COVID-19)