Week 48 2020

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

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  1. After identifying a processing error, the statistics have been corrected from "The average (median) number of pupils isolating, per confirmed pupil COVID-19 case within school, has decreased from 29 pupils on 19 November to 25 pupils on 26 November. " to "The average (median) number of pupils isolating, per confirmed pupil COVID-19 case was 29 pupils on 26 November the same as 19 November."

  2. Due to an error in early years data submitted by one local authority on 26 November, the attendance figure has been revised down from 826,000 to 806,000.

  3. The number of pupils with confirmed cases in the text has been corrected to 18,000, in line with the underlying data

A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March to Thursday 26 November (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from Thursday 16 April to Thursday 26 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 26 November and are compared with Thursday 19 November. 

Note on rounding:

  • When rounded, figures within this section may differ from the headlines above.
  • Attendance is rounded to 0 d.p. within this section.
  • Absence rates and proportion of open schools are rounded to 1 d.p.

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 approximately 89% on 5 November. Attendance then decreased for two consecutive weeks, down to approximately 83% on 19 November. Attendance on 26 November remained at approximately 83%.
  • On 26 November, attendance in state-funded primary schools was 88%, up slightly from 87% and attendance in state-funded secondary schools is 78%, the same as last week.
  • On Thursday 26 November, 99.2% of state-funded schools were open, up slightly from 99.0% on 19 November. This slight increase is due to fewer schools being closed for COVID-19 reasons, compared to 19 November.
  • 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 8 to 10% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Thursday 26 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. Similar to last week.
    • 7.6 to 8.4% of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus [1], down from 8.2 to 9.3% last week.
    • 0.8% of pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons. Similar to last week.
  • From Thursday 5 November, there was a steady increase 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, reaching 36% on Thursday 19 November. On Thursday 26 November, 33% of schools fell into this category, showing a decrease compared to last week.  Note that the vast majority of these schools remain open to most pupils. This equates to:
    • 68% of state-funded secondaries. Down from 73% last week.
    • 26% of state-funded primaries. Down from 29% last week.
  • After half term the proportion of schools who had 30 or more pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school rose from 8 to 9% on 5 November up to 25 to 27% on 19 November. On Thursday 26 November, this decreased slightly to 23 to 25%.
  • 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 (same as last week) and 8 to 9% in state-funded secondaries (same as 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 was 29 pupils on 26 November the same as 19 November. State-funded secondaries had an average of 25 pupils isolating per confirmed COVID-19 case on 26 November, down from 27 on 19 November. State-funded primaries had an average of 30 pupils isolating per case of COVID-19 on 26 November, the same as 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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