Week 46 2020

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


A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March to Thursday 12 November (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from Thursday 16 April to Thursday 12 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

Figures are reported as of Thursday 12 November and are compared with Thursday 5 November.

State-funded schools

  • Attendance in state-funded schools steadily increased from 87% in early September, to a period of stability of between 89 to 90% from 1 October to 15 October.  After half-term attendance was at 89% on 5 November but decreased to 86% on 12 November.
  • On 12 November, attendance in state-funded primary schools is 90%, down from 92% and attendance in state-funded secondary schools is 83%, down from 87%. The drop in attendance is mainly due to the increased number of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus.
  • 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.
  • Figures for COVID-19 related reasons were lower last week. This is likely in part due to the effect of half-term. Pupils that had a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus would not necessarily have been in contact with their school bubble during this time and a smaller number asked to self-isolate as a result. 
  • We estimate approximately 6 to 8% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Thursday 12 November  [1]. This includes:
    • 0.2% of pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
    • 0.3%  of pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus.
    • 5.8 to 6.7% of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus [1], up from 3.2 to 3.7% last week.
    • 0.3% of pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons.
  • On Thursday 12 November, approximately 29% 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. This is up from 16% on 5 November. This equates to 64% of state-funded secondaries (38% last week) and 22%  of state-funded primaries (11% last week). Note that the vast majority of these schools remain open to most pupils.
  • A smaller proportion  (18 to 20%)  had 30 or more pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school. This has increased from 8 to 9% on 5 November.
  • Most groups asked to self-isolate are relatively small, the average (median) was approximately 13 to 14%  of the total number on roll in state-funded primaries (12 to 13% last week)  and 5 to 6% in state-funded secondaries (3 to 4% last week) .
  • The average (median) number of pupils isolating per confirmed pupil COVID case within schools has increased from 17 pupils on 5 November to 28 pupils on 12 November. This increase is driven by state-funded secondaries, with an average of 22 pupils isolating on 12 November, up from 11 on 5 November. The increase was much smaller for primaries, with an average of 29 pupils per case of COVID-19 isolating on 12 November, compared to 27 last week.  This analysis only includes schools that have reported at least one confirmed COVID case within pupils.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. We estimate 801,000 children are currently attending early years childcare settings – about 61% 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 autumn term we expect attendance to be 887,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week [3]. We estimate that the 801,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 90% of the usual daily level.


[1] 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. 

[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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