Week 45 2020

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

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  1. Typo has been corrected in the first block. Now reads 99.7% open schools on 15 October.

A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March to Thursday 5 November and early years settings from Thursday 16 April to Thursday 5 November. The data covers England only. 

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.

Headline facts and figures - 2020

On Thursday 22 October and Thursday 29 October [1], some schools across England were on half term. To ensure estimates are comparable, school figures are reported as of Thursday 5 November and are compared with Thursday 15 October. 

State-funded schools

Excluding the half term period, pupil attendance has remained approximately constant, following a period of stability at between 89% and 90%.

  • Approximately 89% of pupils on roll were in attendance in state-funded schools on 5 November, the same as 15 October. Attendance in state-funded primary schools is 92% and attendance in state-funded secondary schools is 87%.
  • 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 dashboardnational COVID-19 surveillance reports and coronavirus infection survey pilot statistics.
  • We estimate approximately 4% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Thursday 5 November  [2]. This includes:
    • 0.1% of pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
    • 0.3% of pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus.
    • 3.2 to 3.7% of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus [2] 
    • 0.3% of pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons.
  • On Thursday 5 November, approximately 16% of state-funded schools reported that 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 (compared to 21% of all state-funded schools on 15 October). This equates to 38% of state-funded secondaries and 11% of state-funded primaries. Note that the vast majority of these schools remain open to most pupils.
  • A smaller proportion (8 to 9%) had 30 or more 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 to 13%  of the total number on roll in state-funded primaries and 3 to 4% in state-funded secondaries.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. We estimate 754,000 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 754,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 85% of the usual daily level.


[1] For the week commencing Monday 19 October, the vast majority of schools in the following local authorities were on half term for all or part of the week:  Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Warrington, West Berkshire, Swindon, Wiltshire and Norfolk. Some schools in other local authorities were also on half term or had inset days - academies are not required to follow local authority term dates and schools can set their own inset days. Approximately 92% of schools were not on half term or inset days on Thursday 22 October. 

For the week commencing Monday 26 October, 137 local authorities were expected to be on half term for all or part of that week. 

[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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