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. Shielding advice has been paused nationally from 31 March 2021. Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) individuals are no longer advised to shield but must continue to follow the rules in place for everyone under the current national restrictions. Staff in schools who are CEV are advised to continue to work from home where possible, but if they cannot work from home should attend their workplace.
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.
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 2020. The early years local authority survey has moved to fortnightly.
Patterns of childcare use vary through the year. 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. Four-year-olds remain in early years settings before moving into reception in the autumn term, where attendance in settings decreases. 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 2020 (for Autumn Term 2020), on 7 January 2021 (for Spring Term 2021) and on 22 April 2021 (for Summer 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 29 April 2021 (excluding out of term dates as data was not collected) and early years settings from 16 April 2020 to 29 April 2021.
The narrative in this document focuses on Thursday 29 April 2021 for education settings and early years settings.