Week 16 2021

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

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  1. A minor amendment was made to data for independent schools in underlying table 1b for 26 March 2021.

  2. An amendment was made to underlying data table 1d to remove an identified data duplication.

  3. An amendment was made to underlying data table 1b to remove an identified data duplication.

A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March 2020 to Thursday 15 April 2021 (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from Thursday 16 April 2020 to 1 April 2021. The data covers England only. 

Data from 23 March 2020 is available in the underlying data files. The narrative in this publication focuses on Thursday 15 April 2021 for education settings only.

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

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

The majority of schools and colleges were on Easter break week commencing 12 April. As such, a brief summary of attendance is provided here based on schools who had returned from the Easter break. This data is not included in the underlying data tables.

  • Settings on Easter break have been excluded from our estimates to give the clearest picture of attendance
  • This commentary focuses on data as of Thursday 15 April which represent around one-third of state-funded schools instead of all schools and is therefore not comparable to previous weeks [1]

Pupil on-site attendance

  • Pupil attendance in state-funded schools was 94% on 15 April, excluding those on Easter break
    • Attendance was 96% in state-funded primary schools
    • Attendance was 91% in state-funded secondary schools
    • Attendance was 88% in state-funded special schools

Attendance in further education colleges

  • Approximately 121,000 students attended colleges on-site on 15 April, excluding colleges on Easter break

Attendance of vulnerable children and pupils eligible for free school meals

In state-funded schools on 15 April, excluding those on Easter break:

  • Attendance of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) was 89%
  • Attendance of pupils with a social worker was 85% [2]
  • Attendance of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) was 90%

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

Early years settings

The data collection has been paused for the Easter break this week and due to return next week.

The Department for Education has been collecting local authority-level data on Early Years childcare provision since April 2020 on a weekly basis. This data has been crucial to the Department during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure it holds accurate data and that there are enough childcare places. Having reviewed the need for this collection, as well as acting on feedback from the sector, we are consulting on moving to a fortnightly data collection from the end of April until the summer half term. After half term we will review the frequency again as the need for this timely data decreases. This aims to find a balance between reducing some of the time and resource pressures on local authorities and providers, whilst ensuring the Department maintains having timely data. If you have any feedback on this proposal, then please contact earlyyears.entitlements@education.gov.uk with your views.


[1] The vast majority of schools in the following local authorities had returned from Easter break for all or part of week commencing 12 April: Barnsley, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Cambridgeshire, Central Bedfordshire, Darlington, Doncaster, Durham, East Riding of Yorkshire, Essex, Hartlepool, Isle of Wight, City of Kingston upon Hull, Kirklees, Knowsley, Lancashire, Leicester, Leicestershire, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Norfolk, North Tyneside, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Oxfordshire, Peterborough, Redcar and Cleveland, Rotherham, Sefton, Southend-on-Sea, Stockport, Suffolk, Sunderland, Thurrock, Tower Hamlets, Wakefield, Wirral, York. Some schools in other local authorities had also returned from Easter break. Academies are not required to follow local authority term dates and schools can set their own inset days. We estimate 34% of schools were not on Easter break on 15 April.

[2]  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.

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