Week 9 2021

Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

This is the latest data
Published

A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March 2020 to Thursday 25 February 2021 (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from Thursday 16 April 2020 to 25 February 2021. The data covers England only. 

This publication provides a high-level summary of estimates from the Department for Education's education settings survey and local authority early years survey. Further data at national and local authority level is available in the underlying data.

These statistics have been produced quickly in response to developing world events. In May 2020, the Office for Statistics Regulation, on behalf of the UK Statistics Authority, reviewed them against several key aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics and regarded them as consistent with the Code’s pillars of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.

Expansion of publication content in future releases

We are working to expand the scope of published data in future releases.

Data sharing

Data collected from the Education Settings Survey is shared as management information across national and local government for operational purposes. As part of the data share we explicitly highlight that the information is for internal purposes only and should not be shared more widely. The limitations of the data, which include variables with missing values, responses not being validated or issues being thoroughly investigated are highlighted to ensure recipients are aware that decisions should not be made in isolation and the risks of making conclusions based on the data alone. We engage with local users to try to prevent the data being shared inappropriately. Where we identify misuse of the data we work with those in receipt of the data to understand how it happened and to reduce the likelihood it will happen again.

Information shared across government includes variables that we have made a conscious decision not to share more widely at the present moment for a number of reasons including the quality of the data which could misinform or confuse users, however, they may provide useful insight for operational purposes, particularly at a local level.

The department is continuously reviewing what and how information collected from the survey is disseminated and we will endeavour to publish data at the earliest opportunity.


Headline facts and figures - 2021

From 5 January, schools were asked to provide on-site education for vulnerable children and children of critical workers only. 

On Thursday 18 February, all schools across England were on half term. School figures reported as of Thursday 25 February are compared with Thursday 11 February.

Local authority level data from the education settings survey are included in this publication for the first half of the Spring term (from early January to mid February). See the ‘Attendance by local authority’ section of this publication. The data is available in underlying data table 1c, backdated to match the reporting dates of previous publications.

For the first time in this publication, we have included estimates of the number of pupils attending state-funded schools who are identified as otherwise vulnerable. This data is available in underlying data table 1b, backdated to 11 January.

State-funded schools

Open rates

  • On 25 February, over 99% of state-funded schools were open to children of critical workers and vulnerable children. This is higher than March to May 2020, when schools were previously asked to open only to children of critical workers and vulnerable children. Around 80% of schools were open in May 2020.

Pupil on-site attendance

  • Pupil attendance in state-funded schools was 18% on 25 February, up from 16% on 11 February. Attendance increased steadily throughout the last half term from 14% on 13 January. Pupils not attending on-site should receive remote education.
  • Attendance was 27% in state-funded primary schools, 6% in state-funded secondary schools and 44% in state-funded special schools on 25 February. Attendance increased among all types of state-funded schools compared to 11 February, when attendance was 24% in state-funded primary schools and 5% in state-funded secondary schools. Attendance has increased the most in state-funded special schools, up from 35% on 11 February.
  • Attendance of both children of critical workers and vulnerable children has increased since early January:
    • Approximately 1,000,000 children of critical workers were in attendance on 25 February, up from 894,000 on 11 February and 820,000 on 13 January.
    • Approximately 45% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 25 February, up from 38% on 11 February and 34% on 13 January.
    • Approximately 50% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 25 February, up from 44% on 11 February and 40% on 13 January [1].
    • We estimate that 296,000 children identified as otherwise vulnerable were in attendance on 25 Feb, compared to 169,000 on 13 Jan. We estimate that 20% of pupils in attendance on 25 Feb were otherwise vulnerable.

Workforce on-site

  • We estimate 41% of teachers and school leaders were working on-site in open state-funded schools on 25 February, up from 38% on 11 February. This figure was 55% in primary schools, 24% in secondary schools and 70% in special schools on 25 February.
  • We estimate 58% of teaching assistants and other staff were working on-site in state-funded open schools on 25 February, up from 54% on 11 February. This figure was 64% in primary schools, 40% in secondary schools and 68% in special schools on 25 February.

Pupil attendance and workforce statistics in state-funded schools by region

  • Attendance in state-funded schools was highest in the South West and Yorkshire & Humber throughout the first half of the spring term. Attendance in state-funded schools was lowest in London and the East of England.
  • Attendance was highest in special schools in all regions, followed by primary schools. Attendance in secondary schools was low (less than 8%) in all regions.
  • Across all regions, the proportion of teachers and school leaders and the proportion of teaching assistants and support staff who cannot work on site or remotely due to COVID-19 related reasons decreased throughout the first half of the spring term. For both teachers and school leaders and teaching assistants and support staff, the greatest decreases occurred in London, whilst the smallest changes occurred in Yorkshire and The Humber.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. We estimate 638,000 children are currently attending early years childcare settings on Thursday 25 February – about 43% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time [2]. Due to many children attending EY settings on a part-time basis, we would not expect all children to be in attendance on the day of the data collection. On a typical day in the Spring term we expect attendance to be 1,052,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week [3]. We estimate that the 638,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 61% of the usual daily level.

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[1]  Pupils with a social worker are considered ‘children in need’. Our analysis after adjusting for non-response suggests that schools may be under-reporting the number of children with a social worker when compared to the most recently published children in need statistics. Therefore these estimates only account for pupils with a social worker that are identified by schools. Schools report on the form how many children with a social worker (SW) they have on roll. Our analysis suggests that the total number of children with a SW differs by at least 30% compared to published figures for children with a social worker. This means our attendance figures for pupils with a social worker are likely to overestimate attendance.

[2] The number of children in term time was estimated using outputs from the Childcare and early years survey of parents: 2019 and ONS National Population Projections: 2018 based. 

[3] LAs are asked to send attendance in EY settings on a typical day of the week. We have calculated normal expected daily attendance based on estimates of the average number of days a child spends in formal childcare on any given day, using the Childcare and early years survey of parents: 2019. For further details please see the methodology section. 

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