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Why Missing Marks Are a Problem and How To Correct Them

Missing Marks

We often find missing marks in the registers when we first meet with schools, sometimes totalling in the thousands! Missing marks can be time-consuming to correct at best and a big safeguarding problem at worst, so it’s important to take steps to correct them quickly.

Early in the year is the perfect time to make sure your processes for handling missing marks are shipshape, as tackling any problems now means they’ll be much easier and quicker to fix.

But why do they build up in the first place? Here we take a look at why and outline what you can do to prevent it happening.

Why Do Missing Marks Build Up?

Missing marks generally build up because many systems ignore them or treat them as “not required”, meaning if you’re not looking for them you might not even know they’re there. This practice can lead to incomplete or incorrect data and nasty surprises later.

Every session for every pupil should have an appropriate code filled in; if attendance is genuinely not required, there are specific codes that account for that (X for non-compulsory school age, for example). You can find a full list of register codes and their uses on pages 55 to 65 of the DfE’s “working together” guidance.

Why Is It Important to Keep On Top of Missing Marks?

First of all, any missing mark means a child’s whereabouts are not accounted for. This is most acutely important on the day of the mark in question in order to ensure their safety.

After that day, missing marks will affect a pupil’s year-to-date attendance. This is where the practice of systems ignoring them is misleading, as your system might tell you a pupil’s attendance is one thing, but the missing marks mean it’s actually lower. Studybugs treats missing marks as absence, giving a more accurate picture of attendance.

The other problem with marks building up is that you’re less likely to be able to accurately correct them after a lot of time has passed.

How Can You Correct Missing Marks?

The best way to correct missing marks is to resolve them as they occur. This can be done with a combination of making sure all teachers correctly complete each register and regularly checking for missing marks at whole-school level. Studybugs can help you with both of these.

Resolving as you go means you don’t need to correct them in bulk, for example at census time, ahead of an inspection or at the end of the year. Studybugs schools can receive daily alerts listing any missing marks so they can correct their data while it’s still fresh. They can also view all missing marks at any time.

For primary schools using Studybugs Registers, teachers will also see a warning on their register if it hasn’t been completed.

Studybugs Registers


Keeping on top of missing marks ensures all children are accounted for and that genuine unexplained absences can be chased. It also means your data is complete and there are no nasty surprises later.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions about missing marks, please .

— Lucas Abbott

Posted 6 October 2023 Share