Week 25 2020

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

Published

Introduction

A summary of attendance in education settings since Monday 23 March and early years settings since Thursday 16 April.

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.


Headline facts and figures - 2020

  • Approximately 92% of settings were open in some capacity on 18 June, the same as on 11 June.
  • We estimate that 12.2% of pupils (1,160,000) were in attendance at education settings in England on 18 June, up from 9.1% on 11 June.
  • From 1 June, the government asked schools to welcome back children in nursery, reception and years 1 and 6, alongside children of critical workers and vulnerable children. We estimate 78% of settings were open to at least one of these year groups on 18 June, up from 67% on 11 June.
  • Attendance was highest in year 6, with approximately 34% of all year 6 children in attendance on 18 June, up from 26% on 11 June. Attendance was around 26% in year 1, up from 20% and 29% in reception, up from 22%.
  • From 15 June, secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges were asked to begin providing face-to-face support to students in year 10 and 12 to supplement their learning from home, alongside full time provision for students from priority groups. We estimate 60% of settings were open to at least one of these year groups on 18 June, excluding FE colleges and special post-16 institutions.
  • Approximately 10% of year 10 and year 12 students were in attendance on 18 June, excluding students in further education (FE) colleges and special post-16 institutions. The Department's guidance states that settings are able to have a quarter of the year 10 and year 12 cohort in attendance at any one time to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Around 22% of children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or a social worker were attending an education setting on 18 June, up from 18% on 11 June.
  • Early years settings were also asked to begin welcoming back all children from 1 June. We estimate that on 18 June, 282,000 children were attending early years setting – about 17% of the number of children who usually attend in term time.

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Background

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the government asked education and childcare settings to close from Friday 20 March 2020 to all children except those of critical workers and those classified as vulnerable.

From 1 June, the government asked schools to welcome back children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside children of critical workers and vulnerable children from all years. Early years settings were also asked to begin welcoming back all children from 1 June.

From 15 June, secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges were asked to begin providing face-to-face support to students in year 10 and 12 to supplement their learning from home, alongside full time provision for students from priority groups.

Education settings survey

To help understand the impact of these decisions, the Department for Education (DfE) established a survey of education settings in England. Settings are asked to report information to DfE each day, including the number of children and staff in attendance if they are open and when they plan to reopen if they are closed.

The narrative in this document focuses on Thursday 18 June to maintain comparability with previous weeks.

Local authority early years survey

From 6 April 2020, DfE asked local authorities (LAs) to regularly report similar information for childcare settings. The focus of this survey was narrowed to early years settings from 16 April.

Data coverage

This data release includes data for education settings from 23 March to 18 June and early years settings from 16 April to 18 June. The data will continue to be published on a weekly basis every Tuesday.

Non-response adjustment

Education settings survey

The response rate for the education settings survey has been between 30% and 76%, aside from the four bank holidays where response rate was lower, and on 1 May when the response rate was affected by technical issues.

Attendance figures in this release are adjusted to account for settings who do not respond to the survey.

The methodology used to make this adjustment has been revised three times - after the first full week of reporting, from 1 June and from 15 June.

The methodology used between 23 and 27 March 2020 assumed that settings that did not respond were as likely to be open as those that did.

Following review of the first week’s response patterns, analysts developed a new methodology that no longer made this assumption. Therefore, non-response is accounted for differently from 30 March onwards. 

From 1 June, and again from 15 June, the methodology was updated to account for wider opening of some schools. See the methodology for further detail.

Local authority early years survey

For the local authority early years survey, figures for the number of settings open and closed and the number of children attending for those LAs which did not respond are estimated based on the proportions reported by LAs which did respond. The national estimate comprises reported figures from LAs which did respond combined with these estimates (see methodology). From 1 June onwards, this methodology has been revised to take into account the wider opening of early years settings.

Open settings and overall attendance

Open settings and overall attendance

18,800 educational settings responded to the survey on 18 June. This represents 75% of all settings.

The following key findings are adjusted for non-response (see methodology):

  • We estimate 92% of settings were open on 18 June - around 22,900 settings, the same as on 11 June.
  • Approximately 1,160,000 children attended an educational setting on 18 June, this represents 12.2% of pupils who normally attend school. This is an increase from 11 June when around 868,000 (9.1%) were in attendance, following the wider opening of schools to students in year 10 and 12.
  • These children were cared for by 240,000 teaching staff and 327,000 non-teaching staff. The number of teaching staff and non-teaching staff in attendance has increased compared to 11 June, when 200,000 and 280,000 were in attendance respectively. From 1 June, settings were asked to include teaching assistants in their count of teaching staff, previously they were asked to include them in non-teaching staff.

Reason for attendance

Settings only open to children of critical workers or vulnerable children are not asked how many children are attending in each individual year group. Our estimates of attendance by year group therefore exclude children of critical workers and vulnerable children in these year groups in such settings. Our analysis suggests this underestimates attendance by up to 2 percentage points in each year group. Figures for attendance by year group in open schools are unaffected.

Children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 

  • From 1 June, the government asked schools to welcome back children in nursery, reception and years 1 and 6, alongside children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
  • We estimate 78% of settings usually open to children in nursery, reception, year 1 or year 6 were open to at least one of these year groups on 18 June, up from 67% on 11 June.
  • Attendance was highest in year 6, with approximately 228,000 children in attendance on 18 June, up from 179,000 on 11 June. This represents around 34% of all year 6 children, up from 26%.
  • Approximately 175,000 children were in attendance in year 1 on 18 June, up from 130,000 on 11 June. This represents around 26% of all year 1 children, up from 20%.
  • Approximately 188,000 children were in attendance in reception on 18 June, up from 144,000 on 11 June. This represents around 29% of all reception children, up from 22%.
  • In schools open to at least one of these year groups, the attendance rate of year 6 pupils was approximately 42%. We estimate the attendance rate of reception and year 1 pupils in these schools was 36% and 33% respectively.

Students in year 10 and year 12

  • From 15 June, secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges were asked to begin providing face-to-face support to students in year 10 and 12 to supplement their learning from home, alongside full time provision for students from priority groups. The Department's guidance states that settings are able to have a quarter of the year 10 and year 12 cohort in attendance at any one time to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • We estimate 60% of settings usually open to students in year 10 and 12 were open to at least one of these year groups on 18 June [1].
  • Approximately 65,000 year 10 students were in attendance on 18 June, this represents around 10% of all year 10 students.
  • Approximately 25,000 year 12 students were in attendance on 18 June, this represents around 10% of all year 12 students [1].
  • In schools open to at least one of these year groups, the attendance rate of year 10 and year 12 pupils was approximately 15% and 14% respectively [1].

Vulnerable children and children of critical workers

  • Approximately 112,000 of the children in attendance on 18 June had an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or a social worker, up from 92,000 on 11 June. We estimate this represents 22% of all children classified as ‘Children in Need’ or who have an EHCP  [2], up from 18% on 11 June.
  • Approximately 101,000 of the children in attendance on 18 June were classified as ‘otherwise vulnerable’, up from 83,000 on 11 June.
  • 405,000 of the children in attendance on 18 June were classed by schools as children of critical workers, up from 344,000 on 11 June. We estimate that this represents around 13% of all children of critical workers, up from around 11% on 11 June. The number of children of critical workers in attendance may be being under-reported from 1 June. This is because some settings may not be counting all children of critical workers who are now attending in nursery, reception and years 1, 6, 10 and 12.

[1] All analysis on wider secondary reopening excludes further education colleges and special post 16 institutions, who are not asked whether they are open to these year groups in their form. Figures for year 12 attendance do not include students at further education and special post 16 institutions, approximately 40% of students.

[2] This is an estimate based on the January 2019 school census and 2019 Children in Need census. Before 1 June, settings were asked the number of vulnerable children attending. Settings were also asked to provide separate figures for the number of pupils with an EHCP and those with a social worker attending. 

The proportion of vulnerable children in attendance was based on an estimate of the total number of pupils who either have an EHCP or are classed as Children in Need or have an EHCP, derived from the Children in Need and School Censuses. Settings would have included children classified as ‘otherwise vulnerable’ in their count of vulnerable children. As these children were not represented in the denominator, the proportion of vulnerable children would have been an undercount. From 1 June, a total number of vulnerable children attending is no longer collected. Settings are asked to provide a count of the number of children of critical workers, with an EHCP, with a social worker and otherwise vulnerable attending. 

From 16 June, the proportion of children in attendance with an EHCP or a social worker is reported alongside the number of children classified as ‘otherwise vulnerable’ in attendance. This calculation has been backdated to 23 March and published in the accompanying underlying data.

Setting type

  • Attendance in state-funded primary schools was around 19% and around 4% in state-funded secondary schools.
  • Attendance was approximately 15% in special schools (incl. residential special schools), and between 12% - 18% in alternative provision.
  • Attendance in further education settings was low, reflecting the age group of the students.

Table 1: Response rate, % open and % attendance on 18 June by setting type [3]

Setting typeResponse rateOpenPupil attendance
State-funded nursery71%92%19%
State-funded primary79%95%19%
State-funded middle81%96%14%
State-funded all-through80%93%8%
State-funded secondary79%93%4%
Special72%89%15%
Independent school47%78%14%
Alternative provision [4]71%87%11% - 18%
Further education [5]39%72%2%
Special post 16 institution48%78%53%
Total75%92%12%

[3] The following should be noted when considering the setting type breakdowns:

  • The response rate varies across setting types and so some are more sensitive to the nonresponse methodology than others.
  • While the methodology for estimating non-response takes into account which schools are eligible to be open to wider years, it does not make consideration of type of setting beyond this. For example, the proportion of schools who are assumed open to wider years is the same across all establishment types who normally have at least one of these years. Anecdotally we expect this might not hold true in practice, for example, closed independent schools may be less likely to return data. See the Methodology section for further information on the sensitivity of this assumption.

[4]  A range is given to better communicate the uncertainty of attendance in alternative provision. Pupils on the roll at these settings will often be enrolled in other settings as well. The upper value uses the total number of pupils who are solely or mainly registered in alternative provision as the denominator, while the lower value also includes pupils with subsidiary registration in the denominator.

[5] Not all further education settings are included in the data collection. The educational settings collection includes data from general FE colleges, sixth form colleges and specialist FE colleges.

 

Early years settings

  • The response rate to the local authority survey on early years was 88%, with 133 out of 151 LAs submitting data by 6pm on 18 June.
  • Early years settings were asked by the government to begin welcoming back all children from 1 June. An estimated 39,000 settings were open on 18 June. This represents 56% of all settings, with 34% closed and 10% unknown.[6]

[6] Due to rounding, these do not always sum to 100%.

 

  • We estimate 282,000 children attended early years settings on 18 June, up from 234,000 on 11 June. This represents approximately 17% of children who usually attend in term time [7], up from 14% on 11 June.
  • Approximately 133,000 children of critical workers attended early years settings on 18 June. This represents around 12% of children of critical workers [8] aged 0 to 4 years old. The number of children of critical workers in attendance may be being under-reported from 1 June. This is because some settings may not be counting all children of critical workers following the wider opening of early years settings.
  • Approximately 19,000 vulnerable children attended early years settings on 18 June. This represents around 19% of 0 to 4 year olds classified as ‘Children in Need’ or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan [9].

[7]  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.

[8]  Based on DfE analysis of Labour Force Survey data.

[9] 0 to 4 year olds excluding those in Reception classes. This is an estimate based on the 2019 Children in Need census and January 2019 school census. Attendance rates for vulnerable children are presented as a proportion of the estimated number of children aged 0-4 with an EHCP using formal childcare plus the total number of Children in Need aged 0-4. We do not have estimates of the number of Children in Need who usually use formal childcare, so the attendance rate is presented to allow comparisons to be made over time, rather than the proportion of vulnerable children who would usually attend early years settings
 

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Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

Official statistics

These are Official Statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

Contact us

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If you have a specific enquiry about Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic statistics and data:

COVID Attendance Statistics

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Datarequests.COVID@education.gov.uk

Telephone: Raffaele Sasso
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