Week 13 2021

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

Published

A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March 2020 to Thursday 25 March 2021 (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from Thursday 16 April 2020 to 25 March 2021. The data covers England only. 

Data for the week commencing Monday 29 March 2021 will be published on Thursday 8 April, rather than the normal Tuesday publication, to account for the Easter bank holiday.

This publication provides a high-level summary of estimates from the Department for Education's education settings survey and local authority early years survey. Further data at national and local authority level is available in the underlying data.

These statistics have been produced quickly in response to developing world events. In May 2020, the Office for Statistics Regulation, on behalf of the UK Statistics Authority, reviewed them against several key aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics and regarded them as consistent with the Code’s pillars of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.

Expansion of publication content in future releases

Statistics on the attendance of children eligible for free school meals (FSM) and the attendance of students at further education colleges is included in this publication for the first time.

We are working to expand the scope of published data in future releases.

Data sharing

Data collected from the Education Settings Survey is shared as management information across national and local government for operational purposes. As part of the data share we explicitly highlight that the information is for internal purposes only and should not be shared more widely. The limitations of the data, which include variables with missing values, responses not being validated or issues being thoroughly investigated are highlighted to ensure recipients are aware that decisions should not be made in isolation and the risks of making conclusions based on the data alone. We engage with local users to try to prevent the data being shared inappropriately. Where we identify misuse of the data we work with those in receipt of the data to understand how it happened and to reduce the likelihood it will happen again.

Information shared across government includes variables that we have made a conscious decision not to share more widely at the present moment for a number of reasons including the quality of the data which could misinform or confuse users, however, they may provide useful insight for operational purposes, particularly at a local level.

The department is continuously reviewing what and how information collected from the survey is disseminated and we will endeavour to publish data at the earliest opportunity.


Headline facts and figures - 2021

For the first time, statistics on the attendance of children eligible for free school meals (FSM) and the attendance of students at further education colleges are included in this publication. 

See ‘Pupils eligible for free school meals in state-funded schools' in the ‘Attendance in state-funded schools’ section and ‘Attendance in further education colleges’ in the ‘Open status and attendance by type of school or college’ section respectively for further detail.

Open Rates

  • 99.8% of state-funded schools were open on 25 March, down from 99.9% on 18 March.

Pupil on-site attendance

  • Attendance in state-funded schools was 90% on 25 March, down from 91% on 18 March. Attendance remains higher than at any point during the autumn term.
  • Attendance in state-funded primary schools was 92% on 25 March, down from 93% on 18 March.
  • Attendance in state-funded secondary schools was 87% on 25 March, down from 89% on 18 March.
  • Attendance in state-funded special schools was 82% on 25 March, down from 83% on 18 March. Attendance in state-funded special schools is typically lower than mainstream settings.

Attendance in further education colleges

  • Approximately 310,000 students attended colleges on-site on 24 March, up from 299,000 on 17 March and up from 8,000 on 3 March, when only vulnerable students and children of critical workers were expected to be on-site.

Attendance of vulnerable children and pupils eligible for free school meals

Attendance of vulnerable children and pupils eligible for free school meals is typically lower than for other pupils.

  • 84% of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) in state-funded schools were in attendance  on 25 March, down from 85% on 18 March.
  • 82% of pupils with a social worker [1] in state-funded schools were in attendance on 25 March, similar to 18 March.
  • 86% of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) in state-funded schools were in attendance on 25 March, down from 87% on 18 March.

Pupil and workforce absence

This data is as reported directly by schools via the Department for Education’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.

Pupil absence

Secondary-age pupils should be offered asymptomatic testing, as per Department for Education guidance. Rates of pupil absence due to confirmed cases and self-isolation may be impacted by levels of testing. This should be taken into consideration when comparing absences between different types of schools.

For pupils, COVID-19 related absence includes pupils with a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus, those self-isolating and those on roll in schools closed due to COVID-19 related reasons. Pupils that are shielding would not be included in these figures.

  • COVID-19 related pupil absence in state-funded schools has increased from 2.5% of pupils on 18 March to 3.3% on 25 March.
  • A breakdown of COVID-19 related pupil absence in open schools on 25 March is given in table 1. Among pupils absent for COVID-19 reasons, the main reason for absence is self-isolation due to contact with a potential case of coronavirus inside the school. On 25 March, 2.1% of pupils were absent for this reason, up from 1.6% on 18 March.
  • 0.1% of pupils in state-funded schools were absent on 25 March because their school was closed due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Table 1: Proportion of pupils absent from open schools due to COVID-19 reasons on 25 March

PhaseProportion of pupils with a suspected case of COVID-19 (%)Proportion of pupils with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (%)Proportion of pupils self-isolating due to contact inside school (%)Proportion of pupils self-isolating due to contact outside school (%)
State-funded primary0.5%0.1%1.9%0.7%
State-funded secondary0.2%0.1%2.5%0.5%
State-funded special0.5%0.1%1.5%1.0%
All state-funded schools0.3%0.1%2.1%0.6%

Workforce absence

For workforce, COVID-19 related absence includes staff with a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus and those self-isolating. Staff that are shielding would not be included in these figures. All staff are also encouraged to take two rapid COVID-19 tests each week at home. 

  • COVID-19 related absence among workforce has increased slightly, mainly due to a increase in those self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school:
    • We estimate that 1.6% of teachers and school leaders in open state-funded schools were absent due to COVID-19 reasons on 25 March, up from 1.3% on 18 March.
    • We estimate that 1.8% of  teaching assistants and other staff in open state-funded schools were absent due to COVID-19 reasons on 25 March, up from 1.7% on 18 March.
  • We estimate that 5.1% of teachers and school leaders and 5.9% of teaching assistants and other staff in open state-funded schools were absent for other reasons on 25 March.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. We estimate 843,000 children are currently attending early years childcare settings on Thursday 25 March – about 57% 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 Spring term we expect attendance to be 1,052,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week [3]. We estimate that the 843,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 80% of the usual daily level.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1]  Pupils with a social worker are considered ‘children in need’. Our analysis after adjusting for non-response suggests that schools may be under-reporting the number of children with a social worker when compared to the most recently published children in need statistics. Therefore these estimates only account for pupils with a social worker that are identified by schools. Schools report on the form how many children with a social worker they have on roll. Our analysis suggests that the total number of children with a social worker differs by at least 30% compared to published figures for children with a social worker. This means our attendance figures for pupils with a social worker are likely to overestimate attendance.

[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.

Help and support

Create your own tables

Explore our range of data and build your own tables from it.

Create tables