Week 42 2020

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

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A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March to Thursday 15 October and early years settings from Thursday 16 April to Thursday 15 October.

From 12 October, the education settings survey changed and therefore some metrics that used to be presented have been discontinued. The changes were made to give more comprehensive data about how many pupils are isolating from school for different reasons. There are no comparable figures to these from previous weeks.

This publication provides a high-level national summary of estimates from the Department for Education's education settings survey and local authority early years survey. We are working to expand the scope of published data in future releases. 

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

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Headline facts and figures - 2020

Figures are reported as of Thursday 15 October and compared with Thursday 8 October.

State-funded schools

Pupil attendance has remained broadly stable between 89 and 90% for three weeks.

  • 99.7% of state-funded schools were open, slightly down from last week. Of the small proportion (0.3%) of schools that were closed, almost all were due to COVID-19 related reasons.
  • Approximately 89% of pupils on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance, slightly down from 90% last week [1] .
  • Attendance in state-funded primary schools is 92%, the same as last week, and attendance in state-funded secondary schools is 86%, compared with 87% last week [1] .

We now collect more comprehensive data on pupils being asked to self-isolate, or with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.  We do not have comparable data for previous weeks.

  • From 12 October, the education settings survey changed and therefore some metrics that used to be presented have been discontinued. The changes were made to give more comprehensive data about how many pupils are self-isolating for different reasons. There are no comparable figures to these from previous weeks.
  • This data is as reported directly by schools via DfE's daily education settings survey. It is not the primary source of data on infection, incidence and COVID-19 cases overall. Further detail can be found within the coronavirus in the UK dashboard, national COVID-19 surveillance reports and coronavirus infection survey pilot statistics.
  • We estimate 4-5% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Thursday 15 October [2]. This includes:
    • 0.1% of pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus
    • 0.5% of pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus
    • 3.9-4.3% of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus [2] 
    • 0.2% of pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons
  • On Thursday 15 October, approximately 21% of state-funded schools said they had one or more pupils self-isolating who had been asked to do so due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school. This is 46% of state-funded secondaries and 16% of state-funded primaries. Note that the vast majority of these schools remain open to most pupils and this is not comparable to previous data on schools 'not fully open' which intended to capture schools with 'a group' of pupils asked to self-isolate. See the methodology for further detail.
  • A smaller proportion (11-13%) had more than 30 pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school.
  • Most groups asked to self-isolate are relatively small, the average (median) was approximately 12% of the total number on roll in state-funded primaries and 4-5% in state-funded secondaries.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. We estimate 761,000 children are currently attending early years childcare settings – about 58% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time [3]. 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 autumn term we expect attendance to be 887,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week [4]. We estimate that the 761,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 86% of the usual daily level.

[1] From 12 October, schools were asked to exclude nursery children (for whom attendance is not mandatory) from their submission. 

[2] Where COVID-19 related pupil absence categories are combined - for example to report the total proportion of pupils absent due to COVID-19 or the proportion self-isolating that are not a confirmed/suspected case - the proportion is reported as a range to account for possible double counting. Settings are asked to not count pupils in multiple categories, however analysis of responses found evidence of double counting. See ‘Comparability of attendance estimates and typical absence rates’  section of methodology for further details. 

[3] 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. 

[4] 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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