Week 47 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 19 November (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from Thursday 16 April to Thursday 19 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 19 November and are compared with Thursday 12 November.

State-funded schools

  • Attendance in state-funded schools has steadily increased from 87% in early September, to a period of stability of between 89 to 90% from 1 October to 15 October.  Immediately after half-term,  this period of stability continued, with attendance at 89% on 5 November. Since that point, attendance has decreased for two consecutive weeks from 86% on 12 November down to 83% on 19 November.
  • On 19 November, attendance in state-funded primary schools was 87%, down from 90% and attendance in state-funded secondary schools is 78%, down from 83%. The decrease in attendance is mainly due to the continued increase in the number of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of COVID-19.
  • On Thursday 19 November, 99.0% of state-funded schools were open, compared with 99.6% on 12 November. This is the smallest proportion of open state-funded schools since the beginning of September. The drop this week is driven by an increase in the number of schools closed for COVID-19 reasons.
  • This data is 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 9 to 11% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Thursday 19 November  [1]. This includes:
    • 0.2% of pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus. Similar to last week.
    • 0.4%  of pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus. Up from 0.3% last week.
    • 8.2 to 9.3% of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus [1], up from 5.8 to 6.7% last week.
    • 0.8% of pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons. Up from 0.3% last week.
  • There has been a steady increase from 5 November in the number of schools reporting that they have 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.  On Thursday 19 November, approximately 36% of state-funded schools fell into this category, up from 29% on 12 November. Note that the vast majority of these schools remain open to most pupils. This equates to:
    • 73% of state-funded secondaries. Up from 64% last week.
    • 29% of state-funded primaries. Up from 22% last week.
  • On 19 November, 25 to 27% had 30 or more pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school. This figure has increased for two consecutive weeks. The figure reported was 8 to 9% on 5 November and 18 to 20% on 12 November.
  • Most groups asked to self-isolate are relatively small, the average (median) was approximately 14 to 15%  of the total number on roll in state-funded primaries (13 to 14% last week) and 8 to 9% in state-funded secondaries (5 to 6% last week). On average these proportions equate to the size of a year group in primary schools and a half a year group in secondary schools.
  • The average (median) number of pupils isolating, per confirmed pupil COVID-19 case within schools has increased slightly from 28 pupils on 12 November to 29 pupils on 19 November. This increase is driven by state-funded secondaries, with an average of 27 pupils isolating per confirmed COVID-19 case on 19 November, up from 22 on 12 November. The increase was much smaller for primaries, with an average of 30 pupils isolating per case of COVID-19 on 19 November, compared to 29 last week.  This analysis only includes schools that have reported at least one confirmed COVID-19 case within pupils.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. We estimate 806,000 children are currently attending early years childcare settings – about 62% 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 806,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 91% 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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