Week 28 2020

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

Published

A summary of attendance in schools and colleges 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.
 

Announcement

From 6pm on 17 July, the education settings status survey will close to all schools and colleges because the summer term will have ended in most schools and colleges by this date. School and college attendance statistics for the 2020 to 2021 academic year will therefore be published for the last time on 21 July. 

The early years local authority survey will continue to be collected on a weekly basis throughout the summer period, as settings will continue to make childcare provision. Data on early years attendance will be published on a fortnightly basis from 21 July onward.

We would welcome your views on the proposals for early years. Please contact Datarequests.COVID@education.gov.uk if you wish to share your feedback.


Headline facts and figures - 2020

  • We estimate that 16.9% of pupils (1,608,000) were attending schools and colleges in England on 9 July, the same as on 2 July and 25 June.
  • Approximately 91% of schools and colleges were open in some capacity on 9 July, down from 93% on 2 July. These figures include independent schools and further education (FE) colleges, many of which have now closed for the summer holidays. We estimate that over 93% of state-funded primary and secondary schools were open in some capacity on 9 July.
  • We estimate 87% of primary schools were open to nursery, reception, year 1 and/or year 6 on 9 July, slightly down from 88% on 2 July. These figures include independent schools and we estimate over 89% of state-funded primary schools were open to these year groups on 9 July.
  • Attendance was highest in year 6, with approximately 43% of all year 6 children in attendance on 9 July, slightly down from 44% on 2 July. Attendance was around 37% in year 1 and 39% in reception, slightly down from 2 July (38% and 40% respectively).
  • 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 73% of schools were open to at least one of these year groups on 9 July, excluding FE colleges and special post-16 institutions, down from 75% on 2 July. These figures include independent schools and we estimate over 80% of state-funded secondary schools were open to at least one of these year groups on 9 July.
  • Approximately 13% of year 10 students were in attendance on 9 July, slightly down from 14% on 2 July. Approximately 12% of year 12 students were in attendance on 9 July, excluding students in further education (FE) colleges and special post-16 institutions, the same as on 2 July. The Department’s guidance states that schools and colleges are able to have up to a quarter of their year 10 and year 12 cohort in attendance at any one time to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Around 27% of children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or a social worker were attending an education setting on 9 July, up from 25% on 2 July.
  • Early years settings were also asked to begin welcoming back all children from 1 June. We estimate that on 9 July, 414,000 children were attending early years setting – about 25% 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 early years settings, schools, and colleges 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 schools and colleges in England. Schools and colleges 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.

Baselines for the survey have changed from Friday 3 July, as we moved from autumn to spring census data for more accurate school information pupil numbers. See the methodology section for further detail about the data used.

The narrative in this document focuses on Thursday 9 July 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 schools and colleges from 23 March to 9 July and early years settings from 16 April to 9 July. The data will continue to be published on a weekly basis every Tuesday until 21 July 2020.

Non-response adjustment

Education settings survey

The response rate for the education settings survey has been between 30% and 77%, 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 schools and colleges that did not respond to the survey.

The methodology used to make this adjustment has been revised four times:

  • after the first full week of reporting
  • from 1 June to reflect wider opening of primary schools
  • from 15 June to reflect wider opening of secondary schools
  • from 22 June to reflect the increase in open primary and secondary schools

The methodology used between 23 and 27 March 2020 assumed that schools and colleges 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 and 22 June, the methodology was updated to account for wider opening of some schools. See the methodology section for further detail about methodologies used.

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 the methodology section). From 1 June onwards, this methodology has been revised to take into account the wider opening of early years settings.

Open schools and colleges and overall attendance

17,300 schools and colleges responded to the survey on 9 July. This represents 70% of all schools and colleges.

The following figures are adjusted for non-response. The open rates are more sensitive to changes in this methodology than the proportions of children attending, therefore there is more uncertainty surrounding these figures. More information can be found in the Methodology section of this release.

  • Approximately 1,608,000 children attended school or college on 9 July, up from 1,599,000 on 2 July. This represents 16.9% of all children who normally attend, the same as on 2 July and 25 June.
  • These children were cared for by 276,000 teaching staff and 383,000 non-teaching staff. The number of teaching staff and non-teaching staff in attendance has increased compared to 2 July, when 271,000 and 374,000 were in attendance respectively.
  • We estimate 91% of schools and colleges were open on 9 July - around 22,700 settings, down from 93% on 2 July. This figure includes independent schools and further education (FE) colleges, many of which have now closed for the summer holidays. We estimate that over 93% of state-funded primary and secondary schools were open in some capacity on 9 July.
  • Schools and colleges that report being closed are asked the reason for closure and what provision has been put in place for vulnerable children and children of critical workers. Responses to these questions suggest that some that are closed have provision in place for pupils at another school or college.

Reason for attendance

Schools 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 schools. 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 87% of schools usually open to children in nursery, reception, year 1 or year 6 were open to at least one of these year groups on 9 July, slightly down from 88% on 2 July. This figure includes independent schools, a proportion of which have started to close for the summer holidays. We estimate that 89% of state-funded schools usually open to children in nursery, reception, year 1 or year 6 were open to at least one of these year groups on 9 July.
  • Attendance was highest in year 6, with approximately 296,000 children in attendance on 9 July, down from 302,000 on 2 July. This represents around 43% of all year 6 children, slightly down from 44%.
  • Approximately 245,000 children were in attendance in year 1 on 9 July, down from 248,000 on 2 July. This represents around 37% of all year 1 children, slightly down from 38%.
  • Approximately 258,000 children were in attendance in reception on 9 July, down from 259,000 on 2 July. This represents around 39% of all reception children, slightly down from 40%.
  • In schools open to at least one of these year groups, the attendance rate of year 6 pupils was approximately 49%. We estimate the attendance rate of reception and year 1 pupils in open schools was 44% and 41% 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 schools and colleges 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 73% of secondary schools were open to at least one of these year groups on 9 July, down from 75% on 2 July. This figure includes independent schools, a proportion of which have started to close for the summer holidays. We estimate that 80% of state-funded schools usually open to pupils in year 10 and year 12 were open to at least one of these year groups on 9 July. [1]
  • Approximately 82,000 year 10 students were in attendance on 9 July. This represents around 13% of all year 10 students, slightly down from 14% on 2 July.
  • Approximately 32,000 year 12 students were in attendance on 9 July. This represents around 12% of all year 12 students, the same as on 2 July.[1]
  • In schools open to at least one of these year groups, the attendance rate of both year 10 and year 12 pupils was approximately 16% on 9 July. This is the same as from 16% for year 10, and an increase from 15% for year 12 on 2 July.[1]

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[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.

Vulnerable children and children of critical workers

  • Approximately 136,000 of the children in attendance on 9 July had an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or a social worker, up from 128,000 on 2 July. We estimate this represents 27% of all children classified as ‘Children in Need’ or who have an EHCP [2], up from 25% on 2 July.
  • Approximately 134,000 of the children in attendance on 9 July were classified as ‘otherwise vulnerable’, up from 129,000 on 2 July.
  • 511,000 of the children in attendance on 9 July were classed by schools as children of critical workers, up from 501,000 on 2 July. We estimate that this represents around 17% of all children of critical workers, upfrom around 16% on 2 July. The number of children of critical workers in attendance may be being under-reported from 1 June. This is because some schools and colleges may not be counting all children of critical workers who are now attending in nursery, reception or years 1 or 6.

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[2] This is an estimate based on the January 2019 school census and 2019 Children in Need census.

Before 1 June, schools and colleges were asked the number of vulnerable children attending. Schools and colleges 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, derived from the Children in Need and School Censuses. Schools and colleges 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.

Schools and colleges 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 Table 1 in the accompanying data tables.

School and college type

The response rate varies between school or college types, therefore some are more sensitive to the non-response methodology than others. There has consistently been a low response rate from independent schools and colleges, which means there is much greater uncertainty around estimates for these.

The summer term has ended in many independent schools and further education colleges, reflected in both their low response rates and low open rates among responders. Therefore, the open rates for independent schools and colleges are likely to be an overestimate, as more non-responders are likely to be closed for summer than state-funded schools.

  • Attendance in state-funded primary schools was around 27%, higher than attendance in secondary settings (5%).
  • Attendance was approximately 20% in special schools (incl. residential special schools), and between 12-17% in alternative provision.

Table 1: Response rate, % open and % attendance on 9 July by setting type. [3]

Setting typeResponse rateOpenPupil attendance
State-funded nursery69%94%25%
State-funded primary75%95%27%
State-funded middle79%97%19%
State-funded all-through72%87%10%
State-funded secondary75%92%5%
Special71%89%20%
Independent school28%68%14%
Alternative provision[4]68%88%12-17%
Further education[5]36%60%2%
Special post 16 institution43%72%58%
Total70%91%17%

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[3] The following should be noted when considering the school and college type breakdowns:

  • The response rate varies across school and college types and so some are more sensitive to the non-response 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 school or college 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 institutions 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 91%, with 137 out of 151 LAs submitting data on 9 July.
  • Early years settings were asked by the government to begin welcoming back all children from 1 June. An estimated 43,000 settings were open on 9 July. This represents 62% of all settings, with 30% closed and 9% unknown.[6]

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

We estimate 414,000 children attended early years settings on 9 July, up from 382,000 on 2 July. This represents approximately 25% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time [7], up from 23% on 2 July.

  • Approximately 161,000 children of critical workers attended early years settings on 9 July. This represents around 15% 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 26,000 vulnerable children attended early years settings on 9 July. This represents around 26% of 0 to 4 year olds classified as ‘Children in Need’ or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan [9].

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[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

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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.

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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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037 0000 2288

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