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Not collected in November 2020, to return in November 2021
Note: to reduce burdens on schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, absence data is not being collected in the November 2020 workforce census. However it will return in 2021 so this information has been retained for reference purposes.
Requirement: Absences in the previous academic year (except Training Absences) for all Teachers and Teaching Assistants in regular service, employed directly by the school (optional for Service Agreement Teachers).
Definition: As a general rule, absence is anything that takes a teacher or teaching assistant away from their ‘normal duties’
Q. What type of absences should I record and for whom?
A. Absence covers any activity or circumstance that takes a teacher or teaching assistant away from their usual duties (except for training).
The categories are: Sickness; Maternity/ Paternity leave; Other paid authorised absence e.g. compassionate leave; Paid absence for public duties; Secondment; Unauthorised Absence; Unpaid, authorised absence; Pregnancy Related.
The following should not be counted as absences for the purpose of SWC;
- taking part in activities such as field trips
- days that are non-working days under a person’s contract
- PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time
- INSET days
- NQT non-contact time
- Working at a consortium school or a Primary/Secondary linked school
- attending meetings that are part of an individual’s normal duties
Note: absence information is only required for teachers (including agency teachers) and teaching assistants in regular service.
it is only necessary to provide the number of working days lost for sickness and pregnancy related absences.
Q. Is it necessary to record absence for training?
A. This is not required for the SWC. However OFSTED might require that records are kept of all training that is undertaken. This could be electronic (i.e. recorded in SIMS.net) or you may prefer to keep a manual record.
Q. Are working days lost required for all types of absence?
A. No, working days lost are only required for sickness and pregnancy related absence. If schools wish to record working days lost for other types of absence, then you are free to do so.
Q. Does NQT non-contact time count as absence?
A. No, as this is part of their ‘normal duties’.
Q. Do teachers working together but out of their classrooms in school time, with their classes covered by supply staff count as absence?
A. It depends on what the teachers are doing – if it is part of their regular work then there will be no absence recorded.
Q. If a teacher is working at another school within a consortium or federation should this be recorded as an absence?
A. No, as teaching is part of their normal duties.
Q. If a teacher is under a disciplinary suspension which covers the census week how should this be returned with regards to contracts and absences? In SIMS there are start and end dates for suspension and free text for reason for suspension – do we need an extra absence category for suspension?
A. No extra absence category is required – disciplinary suspension should be recorded as an authorised absence, paid or unpaid as appropriate;
OTH – other paid authorised absence (if the leave is paid) or
UNP – unpaid, authorised absence (if the leave is unpaid)
Q. Does SEN non-contact time (half a day per week) for the SEN co-ordinator count as absence?
A. No, this is part of their normal duties within their regular employment so it is not counted as absence.
Q. How should schools record teachers who are on a) PPA time or b) INSET days for the purpose of recording attendance and absences of staff?
A. Neither PPA time nor INSET days should be recorded as absences as they are considered to be part of their normal duties.
Q. If a teacher went off sick at the beginning of June and still hasn’t returned to work at the time of the Census do I need to put 31/08/2020 as the last day of absence?
A. No, you should leave the last day field blank. The date should be entered once the period of sickness absence has finished and the teacher has returned to work. The fact that the last day field is blank will show that the absence is on-going and the last day will be picked up in a future census.
Q. If the deputy Headteacher is absent from the school to carry out some interviewing does this need to be recorded?
A. If the absence is for half a day or more and not considered to be part of the deputy headteacher’s normal duties, then it should be recorded as an absence, probably ‘other paid authorised absence’.
Q. How should absence be recorded if a member of staff is making a phased return to work after a period of long term sickness?
A. These staff should be recorded as absent for the periods when they would normally be working. The school will need to decide whether the absence is sickness absence or other paid authorised absence (may depend on HR policy).
Q. Should there be a separate code for career break?
A. No, career break would be covered by UNP – unpaid authorised absence.
Q. Do staff training days when pupils/students are not at school count as absence?
A. These are not absences and should not be recorded as such
Q. Support staff that have been given extra days’ holiday for long service – how should they be recorded?
A. Absences for support staff (other than TA’s) are not required for the School Workforce Census
Q. How should you record a member of staff who is only off sick on days when they are not employed?
A. This does not constitute a sickness absence as there are no working days lost. The census generates an error if there is a sickness absence with 0 working days lost.
Q. Deputy Head (or other teacher) moderating – covered by funding, how do they record this?
A. If this is part of their normal duties it is not regarded as an absence. If it is not part of their normal duties then the DfE have historically suggested that this is an ‘other paid authorised absence’.
Q. If a teaching assistant is due to work 6 hours and only works 4, missing the afternoon session, is she considered to be absent for the whole afternoon.
A. Yes, as a session is classed as half a day.
Q. If someone works only Tuesdays and Thursdays and are sick both those days, the system records absence as starting Tuesday and ending Thursday i.e. 3 days. Will this affect the return?
A. The length of absence should be picked up by calculating the number of working days lost which will be two. This needs to be input manually and is independent of the first and last day of absence fields.
Q. If a member of teaching staff works mornings only and is off, is the absence recorded as the working hours lost or as a whole day?
A. In the instance where a member of staff only works mornings and they are off sick on a morning, that would be recorded as 0.5 working days lost. Only absence of half a day or more should be recorded and working days lost are only required for sickness absence. If there are instances where the morning and afternoon sessions are not equal, each session should be counted as half a day.
Q. If someone is off sick during the school holiday period would those days during the holiday period count as working days lost?
A. Only days when the teacher or teaching assistant would have been working but was off sick should be included in the working days lost.
Q. A member of staff is absent as she is attending a pregnancy related hospital appointment. How should this be recorded?
A. Absences due to pregnancy related medical appointments or pregnancy related sickness should be record as PRG (pregnancy related).
Q. How should adoption leave be coded? MAT (maternity/paternity leave) or OTH (other paid authorised absence)
A. Adoption leave should be recorded as OTH (if the leave is paid) or UNP (if the leave is unpaid).
Q. Suspension in SIMS can be for maternity leave. Should this be mapped to a different absence category e.g. OTH or should it be mapped as MAT (Maternity)?
A. Use ‘Maternity’ if the reason for absence is Maternity. Use the most appropriate of the other available codes if the reason is not maternity.
Q. Will we be recording ‘sickness’ as the absence code rather than any particular reason for sickness?
A. If it is a pregnancy related sickness it should be recorded as PRG. If the sickness is not pregnancy related it should be recorded as SIC (sickness). The reason for sickness is not collected for SWC.
Q. Teacher is the trainer and not the trainee – is this an absence?
A. If a teacher is delivering training, then that would not be recorded as an absence.
Q. If the last day of absence is left blank for maternity leave why does this generate a query and why do I need to add a note?
A. The DfE would expect schools to know in most cases the return date for someone on maternity leave and if it isn’t then a note should be added to say the date is unknown.
Q. Does absence only include staff contracted to the school or does it also include people on Service Level Agreements?
A. Absence data is only required for all teachers and teaching assistants in regular service with contracts with the school. Absence information is optional for agency/service agreement teachers: there is no requirement for schools to record this information but if it is recorded it will be returned in the SWC.
Q. In a situation where a teaching assistant has to accompany a pupil to the hospital – what absence category should be used?
A. An absence is described as any activity that takes a member of staff away from their normal duties. If this is not considered part of the teaching assistant’s normal duties, it should be recorded as ‘other paid authorised absence’ as long as it is for at least half a day.
Q. If a teacher is absent from school as they are on secondment at another school should this be recorded as absence?
A. Yes, the member of staff would have an absence record of “Secondment”. However if the teacher is “acting up” in the same school, this is not regarded as an absence due to secondment, as the staff member is still working at the school.