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Guidance for Early Years and Childcare Providers on the Attendance Register

COVID-19 Attendance Return and the Attendance Register User Guide.

We recognise that we have not defined what a ‘place’ is. If you have any spaces/hours available where you could admit a child that should be considered a place.

You only need to enter information about children who have not yet started at school. Please do not include older children in the total number attending. 


Which providers should complete the Attendance Register? 
All providers; if you are a nursery, preschool or childminder then you should complete the Attendance Register.

Which providers do not need to complete the Attendance Register?
Holiday providers, before school, after school and home child carers/nannies do not need to complete the Attendance Register.

  • If you are a childminder that only works with children who have started in school (September after their fourth birthday), you do not need to complete the Attendance Register.
  • If you are a childminder that only works before and after school with any age of children, you do not need to complete the Attendance Register.

We have had to completely close due to a positive COVID case. How should we complete our daily Attendance Register return?
You need to simply report as being closed and that there is no unmet need for childcare – as staff and children will be isolating and cannot use childcare.

We have had to close one part of our provision due to a positive or suspected case of covid, but we are continuing to operate for the children that are outside of that bubble that has closed. How should we complete the daily Attendance Register?
You should report that you are open. The overall number of children in attendance will be reduced by the number of children in the bubble that cannot attend due to isolating.

What questions are asked on the Attendance Register?

  • The name and date of birth of vulnerable children attending
  • The total number of children attending
  • If you are open and
  • If you can accommodate all requests for childcare

Once the vulnerable children that you have on your own register have been added to the system, it is very easy to complete and will only take a few minutes each day.

Which children must be included in the Attendance Register?
All children who are vulnerable children must be included.

It is very important that daily returns are made by providers that have vulnerable children attending so that DCC can account for where these children are and so that DCC know if a child does not attend when you were expecting them to be there. The Early Years and Childcare team will follow up with the child’s social worker or another professional if necessary.

Which children fall under the definition of ‘vulnerable’?
When we are referring to vulnerable children, we are referring to the Department for Education definitions of vulnerable children:

  • Children in Need
  • Children in Care
  • Children with a Child Protection Plan
  • Children with an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • Children with a Social Worker

The only other vulnerable children that must be added to the system are those with a Right for Children case.

There is a child on the drop-down list that does not attend, and I need to delete them, why won’t it let me?
This is likely to be a vulnerable child that Devon County Council needs to know about. The option to remove children from you list will not be available for vulnerable children. If a child is not attending, you can mark them as “not booked”.

We have closed, do we still have to complete the Attendance Register every day?
No. Please check your details and information for accuracy and if it is correct then submit your return stating that you are not open. You will not need to make another submission until such time as your information changes. You will not need to complete another return until you open again.

I am a childminder and am not taking as many children as I am looking after my own child/ren. Should I include my children on the Attendance Register?
Please include your child/ren within the total number of children attending.

I am open, but I do not have any children attending; do I need to complete the Attendance Register?
If you are open but have no children attending, we would need you to submit a daily report – that way we will know that you are open and can take children if the need is there.

Please email to have a ‘dummy record’ added to your setting. Leave the attendance record as ‘not booked’ in order to submit an open but no children in attendance report.

We are a school with early years children do we need to complete the Early Years Attendance Register?
Yes! If you are a primary or infant school with a nursery class, a governor run preschool, an independent school with Early Years provision or a maintained nursery school, you need to do:

Maintained nursery classes and nursery schools should log into the DFE Return using the schools Unique Reference Number (URN).

Governor run preschools only need to do the Attendance Register, however the school that shares their URN with the governor run preschool will also need to do the DFE Return.

Why should we complete the Attendance Register? 
There are many benefits to completing it:

  1. Devon County Council can identify and support vulnerable children and their families
  2. Devon County Council can plan to make sure there are enough places for everyone who needs childcare.
  3. Your provision can apply for coronavirus (COVID-19) related grants and funding that Devon County Council has for early years and childcare providers.
  4. The DfE asks Local Authorities to make weekly returns so they can monitor and understand what is happening with openings and closures and attendance of children nationally.

Why did I get an error message when I tried to get into the Attendance Register? 
You need to make sure that you follow the steps in the guidance to Activate Your Account and set a password.  After activating your account, you will be able to select your provision name and enter the password.  If you try to enter or change a password before activating your account, you will receive an error message.

Complete closures

If you are completely closed, please reply ‘No’ to question 1:

  1. Is your education/childcare provision open today? No

This will mean that all other questions are not shown. Then press submit.

If you are open for all or part of the week, please reply to these questions as follows:

  1. Is your education/childcare provision open today? Yes
  2. Have you been able to meet all requests for childcare/education required today? Answer No if you have any children who you have been unable to accommodate today.

We have children attending for taster and starter sessions before they start for longer hours. Should these children be included on the Attendance Register?
Yes, if they are vulnerable children. All children should be included in the total number of children section.

We are only open 2 days a week, do we still have to complete the Attendance Register on the days we are not open?
Ideally, yes. Please complete the Attendance Register every day. It is important that we differentiate between providers that have closed temporarily/indefinitely and those that are only closed for part of the week. This becomes unclear when part-time providers do not complete the Attendance Register following one of the days on which they are closed. For example, if you return that you are closed Monday but did not go back into the Attendance Register again on Wednesday to say you are open, this would result in a ‘closed’ return being made to the DfE – which makes it looks like we have fewer open providers in Devon than is the case.

We are a term time only provider, how should we complete the Attendance Register?
On the day after you close, please enter that you are closed and start completing it again on the day that you reopen.

Please email the schools daily returns mailbox – – and they will add the child for you. You will need to provide the child’s full name and date of birth.

I need to add a vulnerable child to the Attendance Register, but they are not on the drop-down list. Why aren’t they there?
We know there will be children that are not on our system so they will not appear on the drop-down list on the survey. These children may:

  • Be too young to receive either two-year-old funding
  • Be too young to receive the early years entitlement funding
  • Have recently been identified as vulnerable
  • Have come to your setting from another local authority area.

You will not be able to add the child yourself. Please email the schools daily returns mailbox – – and they will add the child for you. You will need to provide the child’s full name and date of birth.

I emailed the schools daily returns mailbox but haven’t heard back from them.
Please bear with us. The team is working through the emails and your enquiry will be dealt with soon. Thank you.

Please only use this mailbox for matters related to the Attendance Register. For queries relating to funding please email Early Years Entitlement Funding Mailbox:

I have tried to complete the survey on my mobile phone, but it wasn’t ideal.
We recommend completing the survey on a laptop or personal computer. Making the system compatible with mobile phones would have meant that it would not have been rolled out as soon as it was. It is possible that this will be enabled in the future if the returns still need to be made.

I missed completing the survey on a day that we were open. Should I go back and enter the information for the day I missed?
Yes, data can be entered retrospectively.

I haven’t completed the Attendance Register before and cant find my name on the drop down list what should I do?
We use the name that you used to register your provision with Ofsted. Please check your own name, your provisions name and also if you use a shortened version of your name (e.g. ‘Sue’ instead of Susan) – check both names as you should be on the list.

If you have done this and still cannot find your provision, email for assistance.

Is there a cut off time when the daily submission must be made?
No. You can submit your data at any time. When we make the return to the Department for Education, we take the data at 4:30. So if you can make your submission by then, that would give the government a more accurate picture of what is happening in Devon.

How long do we need to keep completing the Attendance Register for?
The DfE told us on 9 July 2020 that the returns will need to be made until at least the end of September 2020. The DfE reviewed this during September, and said that it will continue until at least the end of November. This will be reviewed again at the end of November after the Furlough Scheme has ended.

Please also read the new coronavirus (COVID-19) privacy notice.