Following the announcement of the Prime Minister’s 4-step roadmap to COVID-19 recovery, school attendance once again became mandatory for all pupils from 8 March 2021. The usual rules and duties around school attendance have therefore been reinstated.
There are some instances where pupils cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19). A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice to self-isolate because they:
- have symptoms or have had a positive test result
- live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive and are a household contact
- are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19)
- are extremely vulnerable and therefore shielding
Pupils not receiving face-to-face education because they are complying with government guidance or legislation around coronavirus (COVID-19) should receive remote education.
The guidance for state-funded special schools, alternative provision and special post-16 institutions states that these providers should continue to allow all pupils and students to attend, unless they are self-isolating following public health advice. For providers with older pupils, every 16 to 19 student (or 19 to 25 with an EHCP) should undertake the majority of their planned hours on-site.
During the week commencing 8 March, schools were asked to offer secondary-age pupils asymptomatic testing on site. Pupils who consented to testing should have returned to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. Pupils not undergoing testing should attend school in line with the phased return arrangements of the school. Vulnerable children and children of critical workers in secondary schools should continue to attend school throughout unless they had received a positive test result.
Colleges and special post-16 institutions were able to test students on return, initially on site and then moving towards home testing. Specialist settings had flexibility in how this was delivered.
All staff should continue to be offered two rapid COVID-19 tests each week at home. For staff classified as clinically extremely vulnerable, on-site attendance at work is not mandatory.
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.
Further detail on amendments to this form can be found in the methodology. The most recent education settings survey went live on 8 March 2021 and reflect the most recent policy changes detailed above, including the phased return of secondary pupils and an understanding of lateral flow testing.
Local authority early years survey
To help understand the impact of these decisions, from 6 April 2020, the Department of Education (DfE) asked local authorities (LAs) to regularly report to the DfE information on the number of children in attendance, including the number of settings open or closed. The focus of this survey was narrowed to early years settings from 16 April.
The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. Ordinarily, fewer early years settings are open and fewer children are in attendance during school holidays. This is due to reduced demand for childcare and the closure of term-time only and school-based settings. Key school holiday dates have been clearly marked on the corresponding charts.
The number of three-year-olds eligible for funded childcare, and therefore attending early years settings, increases through the academic year. Attendance in settings decreases in the autumn when children move to reception. Due to this, the underlying attendance assumptions are updated on a termly basis, which represents a break in the time series. This occurred on 10 September (for Autumn Term 2020) and on 7 January (for Spring Term 2021). For more details on the break in the time series, please see the methodology section.
This data release includes data from the education settings survey from 23 March 2020 to 18 March 2021 (excluding out of term dates as data was not collected) and early years settings from 16 April 2020 to 18 March 2021.
The narrative in this document focuses on Thursday 18 March 2021 for education settings and early years settings.