Week 2 2021

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

Published
Last updated
See all updates (2)
  1. The proportion of schools with one or more children self-isolating has been updated in table 1c.

  2. Change note: Updated to include a high level summary of data collected on Monday 11 January. This can be found in the ‘Attendance in state-funded schools on 18 December, 4 January and 11 January’ section.

A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March to Monday 4 January (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from Thursday 16 April to Thursday  7 January. The data covers England 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. 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.

Update to include data for 11 January 2021

From 5 January, schools were asked to provide on-site education for vulnerable children and children of critical workers only. Settings were advised that they did not need to complete the educational settings survey between 5 and 8 January while the survey was changed to reflect these new arrangements. The survey reopened on Monday 11 January.

Given the delay in availability of data following the announcement on 5 January while we made these necessary changes and high levels of interest in this data, we updated this publication on 13 January at 9.30am with a high level summary of data collected on Monday 11 January. This can be found in the ‘Attendance in state-funded schools on 18 December, 4 January and 11 January’ section. This data is based on responding schools only and includes open rates, attendance rates and a summary of the distribution of attendance in primary and secondary schools. A full breakdown of data from 11 to 14 January, following adjustment for non-response, will be published on 19 January.

Expansion of publication content in January 2021

We are working to expand the scope of published data in future releases. In addition to measures currently published, from 19 January 2021 we will publish workforce absence data backdated for the autumn term and update this weekly.

We will also publish local authority level measures of workforce absence and early years data for the autumn term on 19 January 2021. We will then publish local authority level summaries on a half-termly basis. 

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

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

These weekly summaries usually compare Thursday-to-Thursday, however here we compare Thursday 10 December with Wednesday 16 December. This is due to a decrease in response rates on Thursday 17 December which make estimates for this date less reliable. Data for 17 December is available in the underlying data. More details are included in the ‘Non-response adjustment’ section. On 13 January at 9.30am, the publication was updated to include a high-level summary of data collected on 11 January. A summary of data from 18 December, 4 and 11 January is available in the ‘Attendance in state-funded schools on 18 December, 4 January and 11 January’ section.

  • On 16 December, 98.5% of state-funded schools were open, down from 99.2% on 10 December. This decrease is due to more schools being closed for COVID-19 reasons, compared to 10 December.

Pupil attendance fell in the last week of the autumn term, particularly in secondary schools 

  • Attendance in state-funded schools steadily increased in September to a period of stability at between 89 to 90% until October half term. After half term, attendance fell, reaching a low point of 83% on 19 November. Attendance then recovered in late November and early December, although not to levels seen in October, before falling at the end of the autumn term.
  • Attendance on 16 December in state-funded schools was 79%, down from 85% on 10 December.
    • On 16 December, attendance in state-funded primary schools was 86%, down from 89% on 10 December.
    • On 16 December attendance in state-funded secondary schools was 72%, down from 80% on 10 December.

The proportion of pupils self-isolating and in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons increased in the last week of the autumn term

  • 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 9-11% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Wednesday 16 December  [1]. This includes:
    • 0.2% of pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus. Similar to last week.
    • 0.5%  of pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus. Up slightly from last week.
    • 7.1-8.3% of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus [1]. Up from 6.6-7.3% last week.
    • 1.7% of pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons. Up from 0.6% last week.

Note that the numbers of pupils with confirmed or suspected coronavirus and self-isolating is not known in closed schools. This means these figures are likely to be under-estimates, particularly in the last week of term when a larger proportion of schools were closed for COVID-19 related reasons.

  • 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  [2], reaching 37% on Thursday 19 November. This figure then fell in subsequent weeks, to 28% on 10 and 16 December. Note that the vast majority of these schools remain open to most pupils. This equates to:  
    • 61% of state-funded secondaries. Up slightly from 60% last week.
    • 20% of state-funded primaries. Down slightly from 21% 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 8-9% on 5 November up to 25-27% on 19 November. On Thursday 26 November, this decreased slightly to 23-25%. This figure fell again on Thursday 3 December to 19-21% and remained at this level on Thursday 10th December. On Wednesday 16th December, this figure remained at a similar level at 19 -21%.
  • Most groups asked to self-isolate are relatively small. On 16 December the average (median) was approximately 14 to 15% of the total number on roll in state-funded primaries (same as 10 December) and 7 to 8% in state-funded secondaries (same as 10 December). On average these proportions equate to the size of a year group in primary schools and just under half a year group in secondary schools.
  • The average (median) number of pupils isolating, per confirmed pupil COVID-19 case within state-funded schools was 28, down slightly from 29  on 10 December. This analysis only includes schools that have reported at least one confirmed COVID-19 case among pupils.
    • State-funded secondaries have an average of 23 pupils isolating per confirmed COVID-19 case on 16 December, down slightly from 24 on 10 December.
    • State-funded primaries have an average of 29 pupils isolating per case of COVID-19 on 16 December, the same as last week.

Attendance fell in all regions in the last week of term, but particularly in London, the South East and East of England

  • From mid-September until half term, attendance was lowest in the North West, hovering around 85% during this time. After half term, attendance was lowest in the North East, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, where attendance approached or fell below 80% in mid-November. In December, attendance fell sharply in London, the South East and East of England, falling well below 80% in the last week of term.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. We estimate 542,000 children are currently attending early years childcare settings on Thursday 7 January – about 37% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time [3]. 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 [4]. We estimate that the 542,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 52% 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]  Schools closed for COVID-related reasons were previously not counted as having one or more pupils self-isolating because absence data is not collected from closed schools. We have updated the time series for this measure to count these schools as having one or more pupils self-isolating, given it is more likely than not that they have 1 or more pupils self-isolating and excluding them could diminish a trend when levels of COVID-related closures are higher. Generally, the impact this has on the figures is small - less than 1 percentage point.

[3] 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. 

[4] 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. 

Explore data and files

All data used in this release is available as open data for download


Open data

Browse and download individual open data files from this release in our data catalogue


Guidance

Learn more about the data files used in this release using our online guidance


Create your own tables

You can view featured tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from the open data using our table tool


All supporting files

All supporting files from this release are listed for individual download below:

List of all supporting files

Background

Between March 2020 and the end of the summer term, schools were asked to limit attendance to reduce transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). The timeline is summarised below:

  • From Friday 20 March 2020, in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the government asked early years settings, schools, and colleges to close to all children except those of critical workers and those classified as vulnerable.
  • From 1 June, the government asked schools to welcome back children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside children of critical workers and vulnerable children from all years. Early years settings were also asked to begin welcoming back all children from 1 June.
  • From 15 June, secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges were asked to begin providing face-to-face support to students in year 10 and 12 to supplement their learning from home, alongside full time provision for students from priority groups. Primary schools were given the flexibility to bring back pupils in other year groups, where they have space to do so.
  • By 17 July, most schools and colleges had closed for the summer holiday. Ordinarily, fewer early years settings are open and fewer children are in attendance during school summer holidays. This is due to reduced demand for childcare and the closure of term-time only and school-based settings.
  • From the beginning of 2020/21 autumn term, all pupils, in all year groups, were expected to return to school full-time.
  • Ahead of the start of the 2021/21 spring term, the Government asked schools to make the following arrangements for week commencing 4 January:
    • Primary schools to provide on-site education to all pupils from their first day of term, except those in areas where contingency framework guidance applied. In areas affected by the framework, primary schools were asked to provide on-site education for vulnerable children and children of key workers only.
    • Secondary schools to provide on-site education to vulnerable children and children of key workers only in week commencing 4 January.
    • Special schools to provide on-site education for all pupils, however they were given flexibility to phase return of pupils.
    • Alternative provision to provide on-site education for all pupils.
  • From 5 January, schools were asked to provide on-site education for vulnerable children and children of key workers only. Settings were not required to complete the educational settings survey between 5-8 January while it was changed to reflect these new arrangements. The survey reopened on Monday 11 January.

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.

The education settings survey was open between 23 March and 17 July 2020 and then reopened on 1 September 2020. The survey questions were changed on 1 September 2020 to reflect the expectation that all schools should prepare to open to all pupils. Additional changes to questions were made on 12 October 2020, detailed information on these amendments can be found in the methodology.

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 summer holidays. This is due to reduced demand for childcare and the closure of term-time only and school-based settings. Some children returned to early years settings on week commencing 31 August, with many more returning on week commencing 7 September.

The volume and percentage of children in attendance from 10 September is not directly comparable with the previous data points due to a break in the time series. 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. For more details on the break in the time series, please see the methodology section. 

Data coverage

This data release includes data from the education settings survey from 23 March to 4 January (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from 16 April to 7 January. 

The narrative in this document focuses on Wednesday 16 December for education settings and 7 January for early years settings.

Data for education settings is included in the underlying data from Wednesday 9 September because this was the first time fewer than 1% of schools reported inset days since the survey reopened on Tuesday 1 September.

Non-response adjustment

Education settings survey

Non-response adjustments made to published figures from 9 September 2020 are summarised here. For the non-response adjustment methodology made to published figures from 23 March to 16 July 2020, see the July 21 publication. Non-response adjustments have not been made to local authority level data, see the ‘Attendance by local authority’ section for more information.

The response rate among state-funded schools was 77% on 16 December. Open rate and attendance figures for state-funded schools in this release are adjusted to account for those that did not respond to the survey.

The methodology used from 9 September assumes that state-funded schools that did not respond were no more likely to be closed, ask pupils to self-isolate or have lower attendance than responding state-funded schools. This follows analysis of response patterns, data collected from a sample of non-responding schools, and comparison with data collected through regular phone calls between DfE and local authorities to identify any closed schools. Responses have been weighted to take account of differences in response rate between different school types.

To reflect the number of local authorities that were on half-term, adjustments were made to the methodology for figures between 19 -  23 October  and 2 November.

Response rates among state-funded schools fell on 17 December by 7 percentage points compared to the previous day. Some schools reported inset days or non-COVID related closures on 17 December (1% of responders). Schools are not required to complete the form if on a planned holiday, such as Christmas break and, previously, decreases in response rates have been associated with an increase in school closures. As a result, it is likely there is a greater proportion of closures among non-responders than responder and we do not know the distribution of these between i) COVID-related closures and ii) schools starting Christmas holidays or having inset days as planned. Therefore, estimates for 17 December are less reliable than previous days and likely over-estimate open and attendance rates. Comparisons are made here with Wednesday 16 December instead. Data for 17 December is still available in the underlying data.

See the methodology section for further details.

Local authority early years survey

For the local authority early years survey, figures for the number of settings open and closed and the number of children attending for those LAs which did not respond are estimated based on the proportions reported by LAs which did respond. The national estimate comprises reported figures from LAs which did respond combined with these estimates (see the methodology section). From 1 June onwards, this methodology has been revised to take into account the wider opening of early years settings.

Open status for state-funded schools

  • 16,700 state-funded schools [5] responded to the survey on 16 December. This represents 77% of all state-funded schools. All figures in this release are adjusted for non-response, more information can be found in the Methodology section of this release.
  • 98.5% of state-funded schools were open on 16 December, down from 99.2% on 10 December. Of the small proportion (1.4%) of schools that were closed, almost all were due to COVID-19 related reasons.
  • Due to changes to the education settings survey to collect better data on pupils being asked to self-isolate, we do not have comparable figures to previous data on schools ‘not fully open’. [6]

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

[5] All figures are for state-funded schools. State-funded schools are primary, secondary, special schools and alternative provision. Further education colleges, post-16 special institutions and independent schools are not included in these figures, however estimates for these settings are included in the ‘Open status and attendance by type of school or college’ section of this publication.

[6]  Prior to 12 October, the Education Settings Survey asked schools and colleges to report if they were ‘fully open’ or ‘not fully open’ to identify those affected by COVID-19. In looking to balance the reporting burden, only those settings that self-identified as ‘not fully open’ due to asking pupils to self-isolate due to COVID-19 were asked to provide details on confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases among pupils and on pupils isolating. The question on pupils isolating was framed in terms of ‘groups’ of pupils isolating, with scope for interpretation on what this constituted.

Attendance in state-funded schools

The overall absence rate in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in England in the 2018/19 academic year was 4.7%. There are some differences in the calculation of this figure and our attendance estimates that affect comparability [7].

Department for Education guidance sets out that school attendance is mandatory from the beginning of the autumn term. Pupils with COVID-19 symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, should not attend school. If someone who has attended school is tested positive for COVID-19, pupils they have been in close contact with will be asked to self-isolate. 

  • Approximately 79% of pupils on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 16 December, down from 85% on 10 December.
  • Attendance in state-funded primary schools was approximately 86%, down from 89% on 10 December, and attendance in state-funded secondary schools was approximately 72%, down from 80% on 10 December.

We now collect more comprehensive data on pupils being asked to self-isolate, or with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.  We do not have comparable data for dates prior to 12 October. 

  • This data is as 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 dashboard, national COVID-19 surveillance reports and coronavirus infection survey pilot statistics.
  • We estimate up to 872,000 pupils (between 9%-11%) in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Wednesday 16 December [8]. This includes:
    • 18,000 (0.2%) pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus
    • 38,000 (0.5%) pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus
    • up to 679,000  (7.1-8.3%) pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus [8], [9]
    • 137,000 (1.7%) pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons
  • On Wednesday 16 December, approximately 28% of state-funded schools said they 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, remains the same at 28% on 10 December. This is 61% of state-funded secondaries (up from 60% on 10 December) and 20% of state-funded primaries (down from 21% on 10 December). Note that the vast majority of these schools remain open to most pupils and this is not comparable to previous data on schools 'not fully open' which intended to capture schools with 'a group' of pupils asked to self-isolate. See the methodology for further detail.
  • 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 8-9% on 5 November up to 25-27% on 19 November. On Thursday 26 November, this decreased slightly to 23-25%. This figure fell again on Thursday 3 December to 19-21% and remained at this level on Thursday 10th December. On Wednesday 16th December, this figure remained at a similar level at 19 -21%.
  • The average (median) was approximately 14 to 15% of the total number on roll in state-funded primaries (same as last week) and 7 to 8% in state-funded secondaries (up from 6 to 7% last week). On average these proportions equate to the size of a year group in primary schools and just under half a year group in secondary schools.
  • The average (median) number of pupils isolating, per confirmed pupil COVID-19 case within state-funded schools was 28, down from 29  on 10 December.
    • State-funded secondaries have an average of 23 pupils isolating per confirmed COVID-19 case on 16 December, down slightly from 24 on 10 December.
    • State-funded primaries have an average of 29 pupils isolating per case of COVID-19 on 16 December, the same as last week.  This analysis only includes schools that have reported at least one confirmed COVID-19 case within pupils.

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

[7] 2018/19 overall absence rates include pupils aged 5-15 in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools. Our attendance estimates include 4-year olds in reception, 16-year olds in year 11 and all students in sixth forms. Pupils on roll in alternative provision (who have a higher than average absence rate) are included in our attendance estimates, but excluded from the 2018/19 overall absence rates. From 12 October, schools were asked to exclude nursery children from their response to the education settings survey. See methodology for further details.

[8] 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. Numbers of pupils are presented as ‘up to’ the upper bound of the range. 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. 

[9] Includes pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside and outside the school.

Vulnerable children in state-funded schools

Attendance of pupils with an EHCP and pupils with a social worker is ordinarily lower than other pupils [10].

  • Approximately 75% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in all state-funded schools were in attendance on 16 December, down from 80% on 10 December.
  • Approximately 76% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in all state-funded schools were in attendance on 16 December, down from 80% on 10 December. 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 [11]. Therefore these estimates only account for pupils with a social worker that are identified by schools.

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

[10]  The attendance of pupils with EHCPs and children in need is typically lower than for other pupils. In the 2018/19 academic year, the overall absence rate was 8.7% for pupils with a statement of SEN or an EHCP and 11.4% for children in need see Pupil absence in schools statistics and characteristics of children in need statistics  publication for more information. There are some differences in the calculation of these figures and our estimates that affect comparability.  See our methodology for more details.  

[11] Statistics: children in need and child protection Schools report on the form how many children with a social worker (SW) they have on roll. Our analysis suggests that the total number of children with a SW differs by at least 30% compared to published figures for children with a social worker.

Open status and attendance by type of school or college

Response rate varies between school or college types, therefore some are more sensitive to the non-response methodology than others. Response rates were lower among some setting types, which means there is greater uncertainty around their estimates.

  • Attendance was lower in state-funded secondaries (72%) than state-funded primaries (86%).
  • Fewer pupils were in attendance at state-funded special schools (73%) than state-funded primary and secondary schools. Ordinarily, attendance is lower in special schools than in mainstream settings.
  • Typically attendance in alternative provision is lower than for other settings. Our attendance in alternative provision estimates may be depressed due to alternative provision reporting dual-registered pupils as on roll. Pupils dual-registered with a mainstream setting are not required to attend alternative provision full-time.

Table 1: Response rate and estimates of % open,  and % attendance by school or college type on 16 December.

Setting type% response rate% open  [12]          % attendance [13] 
State-funded primary 78%98.7%86%
State-funded secondary76%97.9%72%
State-funded special 77%97%73%
State-funded alternative provision66%97%50%
All state-funded schools 77%98.5%79%
Independent schools 29%91%64%
Special post-16 institutions69%97% -
FE colleges 91%97% -

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

[12] Open rates are rounded to 1dp for state-funded primary, state-funded secondary and all state-funded schools. For other phases, rates are reported to 0dp and where 100% of settings report they are open, this is reported as 99% given level of uncertainty around these estimates due to lower response rates and/or small population sizes.

[13] Attendance rates are not yet reported for FE colleges or special post-16 institutions as we develop a methodology to account for the fact that some learners attend part-time.

Attendance by local authority

Available data at local authority level

Data is available for each Thursday from 10 September to 17 December, note that some schools were on half term on Thursday 20 October and most were on half term on Thursday 29 October. Due to a decrease in response rates on Thursday 17 December, data for Wednesday 16 has also been made available in the underlying data.

The following measures can be found in the underlying data at local authority level for all state-funded schools and broken down by primary, secondary and special schools:

  • Number and proportion of schools that were open
  • Number and proportion of schools that asked one or more pupils to self-isolate due to suspected contact with a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) inside the school - from 12 October
  • Number and proportion of all pupils on roll in attendance
  • Number and proportion of pupils on roll with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in attendance
  • Number and proportion of pupils on roll with a social worker in attendance
  • Number and proportion of pupils absent with a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) - from 12 October
  • Number and proportion of pupils absent with a suspected case of coronavirus (COVID-19) - from 12 October
  • Number and proportion of pupils absent because of self-isolation due to suspected contact with a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) - from 12 October
  • Number and proportion of pupils absent because their school is closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) - from 12 October
  • Total number and proportion of pupils reported absent for COVID-19 related reasons - from 12 October

From 12 October, the education settings survey changed and therefore some measures that used to be presented were discontinued. Measures relating to fully open schools are also available in the underlying data prior to 12 October.

The number and proportion of i) pupils absent because of self-isolation due to suspected contact with a case of coronavirus and ii) pupils reported absent for COVID-19 related reasons are presented as a range with an upper and lower bound.

Early years and school workforce data for the autumn term will be published at local authority level on 19 January. Local authority level data will then be updated on a half-termly basis.

Interpretation of local authority level data

Local authority level data is based on responding schools only. 

  • Unlike national level data, no adjustments are made for non-response.
  • Response rates vary by local authority and by school phase or type within local authorities. Different schools within a local authority may respond on different days. Care should therefore be taken when comparing local authorities and when interpreting trends over time because differences could be due to response bias - where responding schools are not representative of all schools - and/or different schools being included in the data.
  • Where there are differences in response rates between school phase or type, such as a higher response rate in primary schools than secondary schools, data by school phase or type is likely to be more reliable than overall data for all state-funded schools.
  • Percentages will be more robust than overall numbers of schools or children as these have not been scaled up.
  • Local authorities with response rates below 50% are flagged as such in the underlying data.

Some data is based on fewer schools than others, making it more sensitive to change. 

  • The number of state-funded schools varies considerably by local authority: from 22 in Rutland to over 600 in Lancashire, excluding City of London and Isles of Scilly which have one each. Data based on a small numbers of schools, particularly when comparing over time, can be more variable.
  • Data based on one school has been suppressed and data based on fewer than 10 schools are flagged as such in the underlying data.

Typically, attendance is higher in some local authorities than others. 

  • Differences in attendance between local areas before the coronavirus outbreak should be taken into account when comparing local authorities.
  • Pupil absence in the 2019 autumn term is published by local authority and shows that absence ranged from 2.9 to 6.5% at local authority level. There are some differences in the calculation of pupil absence and our attendance estimates that affect comparability [14].

[14] 2018/19 overall absence rates include pupils aged 5-15 in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools. Our attendance estimates include 4-year olds in reception, 16-year olds in year 11 and all students in sixth forms. Pupils on roll in alternative provision (who have a higher than average absence rate) are included in our attendance estimates, but excluded from the 2018/19 overall absence rates. From 12 October, schools were asked to exclude nursery children from their response to the education settings survey. See methodology for further details.

Summary of attendance by local area

Chart 3 summarises attendance in responding schools in each region during the autumn term (from early September to mid December). Local authority level underlying data can be aggregated to regional level, however the underlying data to Chart 3 is available in the ‘download associated files’ section at the top of this publication for ease.

  • Attendance was highest in the South West during most of the autumn term. Attendance was also higher in the South East and East of England throughout most of the autumn term, however, in December, attendance in these areas (alongside London) fell sharply.
  • From mid-September until half term, attendance was lowest in the North West, hovering around 85% during this time. After half term, attendance was lowest in the North East, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, where attendance approached or fell below 80% in mid-November. In December, attendance fell sharply in London, the South East and East of England, falling well below 80% in the last week of term.

Chart 4 shows attendance in responding state primaries and secondaries in each local authority on Thursdays after the October half term (5 November to 17 December). Data prior to the autumn term is available in the underlying data.

  • Areas with low attendance are generally local authorities with high rates of COVID-19 in the population at that time and vice versa.
  • The ranges for the colour gradient in maps are automatically set and the same shade in different maps does not mean the same level of attendance. Functionality to set these ranges to improve comparability will be available soon.
  • Data for Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are not displayed on the chart due to technical issues that we are working to resolve. Data for these local authorities is available in the underlying data.
  • Response rates for each data point are available in the ‘Table’ tab alongside the chart.

Attendance in state-funded schools on 18 December, 4 January and 11 January

Data for 18 December 2020

On Friday 18 December, many schools were expected to be on inset days or have started Christmas break [15]. The response rate to the survey of educational settings fell to 58% and 11% of responding schools reported an inset day or non-COVID related closure. Therefore, figures for 18 December 2020 are given for responding schools only, excluding schools that reported inset days or non-COVID related closures and in areas expected to have started Christmas break. Figures have not been adjusted for non-response and are therefore not nationally representative.

Of 11,300 responding state-funded schools on 18 December, excluding those with inset days or on Christmas break:

  • 98% of state-funded schools reported they were open, this figure was 98% for state primary schools and 96% for state secondary schools
  • 76% of pupils in state-funded schools were in attendance, this figure was 83% in state primary schools and 65% in state secondary schools
  • 72% of children with an EHCP and 74% of children with a social worker were in attendance in state-funded schools

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

[15] The vast majority of schools in the following local authorities were expected to be on Christmas break on 18 December: Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire. Some schools in other local authorities were also on Christmas break or had inset days - academies are not required to follow local authority term dates and schools can set their own inset days.

Data for 4 January 2021

Ahead of the start of the 2021/21 spring term, the Government asked schools to make the following arrangements for week commencing 4 January:

  • Primary schools to provide on-site education to all pupils from their first day of term, except those in areas where contingency framework guidance applied [16]. In areas affected by the framework, primary schools were asked to provide on-site education for vulnerable children and children of key workers only.
  • Secondary schools to provide on-site education to vulnerable children and children of key workers only in week commencing 4 January.
  • Special schools to provide on-site education for all pupils, however they were given flexibility to phase return of pupils.
  • Alternative provision to provide on-site education for all pupils.

From 5 January, schools were asked to provide on-site education for vulnerable children and children of key workers only. Settings were not required to complete the educational settings survey from 5 January while the survey was changed to reflect these new arrangements. The survey reopened on Monday 11 January.

On Monday 4 January, many schools were expected to still be on Christmas break or have planned inset days [17]. The response rate to the survey of educational settings on 4 January was low (45%) and nearly half of responding schools reported an inset day or non-COVID related closure (47%). Therefore, figures for 4 January 2021 are given for responding schools only, excluding schools in areas expected to still be on Christmas break and those that reported inset days or non-COVID related closures. Figures have not been adjusted for non-response and are therefore not nationally representative.

Of 5,400 responding state-funded schools on 4 January 2021, excluding those with inset days or on Christmas break:

  • 88% of state-funded schools reported they were open, this figure was 90% for state primary schools and 72% for state secondary schools
  • 45% of pupils in state-funded schools were in attendance, this figure was 65% in state primary schools and 5% in state secondary schools
  • In state primary schools in areas affected by the contingency framework (where attendance was restricted to vulnerable children and children of critical workers) attendance was 6%, compared to 74% in state primary schools areas not affected by the contingency framework
  • 47% of children with an EHCP and 50% of children with a social worker were in attendance in state-funded schools.

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

[16] Primary schools in the following 60 areas were asked to open only to vulnerable children and children of key workers: Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Westminster, Brentwood, Epping Forest, Castle Point, Basildon, Rochford, Harlow, Chelmsford, Braintree, Maldon, Southend on Sea, Thurrock, Dartford, Gravesham, Sevenoaks, Medway, Ashford, Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Swale, Hastings, Rother, Milton Keynes, Watford, Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Three Rivers.

[17] The vast majority of schools in the following local authorities were expected to still be on Christmas break on 4 January: Suffolk, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Rutland, Bury, Stockport, Wigan, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Central Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, West Berkshire, North Yorkshire. Some schools in other local authorities were also still on Christmas break or had inset days - academies are not required to follow local authority term dates and schools can set their own inset days.

Data for 11 January

On 4 January, the Prime Minister announced that schools would close to pupils except vulnerable children and the children of critical workers from 5 January. Between 5 and 8 January, schools were advised that they did not need to complete the daily collection of attendance data to allow it to be updated to reflect these changes. From Monday 11 January, schools were asked to complete an updated version of the survey.

On Monday 11 January, 82% of state-funded schools responded to the survey of educational settings. Data is presented here based on 18,000 responding state-funded schools with no adjustments for non-response. A full breakdown of data for 11-14 January, following adjustment for non-response, will be published on 19 January. This means that figures may change, however any changes are likely to be small given the high response rate.

Open rates [18]
  • Approximately 99.2% of responding state-funded schools reported they were open. This figure was 99.2% among state primaries, 99.6% among state secondaries, 98% among special schools and 98% among alternative provision.
Attendance rates
  • 14% of pupils on roll in responding state-funded schools were in attendance. This figure was 20% in state primaries, 4% in state secondaries, 29% in special schools and 24% in alternative provision [19].

Attendance figures for i) pupils with an EHCP and ii) pupils a social worker are not mutually exclusive - some pupils have a social worker and an EHCP and are counted in both sets of figures.

  • 34% of pupils with an EHCP in responding state-funded schools were in attendance. This figure was 46% in state primaries, 25% in state secondaries, 29% in special schools and 36% in alternative provision.
  • 40% of pupils with a social worker in responding state-funded schools were in attendance. This figure was 50% in state primaries, 24% in state secondaries, 41% in special schools and 33% in alternative provision. Pupils with a social worker are considered ‘children in need’. Our analysis 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 [20]. Therefore these estimates only account for pupils with a social worker that are identified by schools.

Figures for attendance of children of critical workers are not provided, as schools are only able to confirm how many children of critical workers requested a place, rather than how many are on roll. We intend to publish an estimate of the total number of children of critical workers in attendance, following adjustments to account for non-responding schools, in January 2021.

Distribution of attendance
  • Among responding open primary schools, 11% reported less than 10% attendance, 47% less than 20% and 98% less than 50%.
  • Among responding open secondary schools, 91% reported less than 10% attendance, 99% less than 20% and almost 100% [21] less than 50%.

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

[18] Open rates are rounded to 1dp for state-funded primary, state-funded secondary and all state-funded schools. For other phases, rates are reported to 0dp given level of uncertainty around these estimates due to smaller population sizes.

[19] Our attendance in alternative provision estimates may be depressed due to alternative provision reporting dual-registered pupils as on roll. Pupils dual-registered with a mainstream setting are not required to attend alternative provision full-time.

[20] Statistics: children in need and child protection Schools report on the form how many children with a social worker (SW) they have on roll. Our analysis suggests that the total number of children with a SW 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.

[21] Note that this figure is rounded to the nearest percentage point and a very small proportion (less than 0.5%) of secondary schools reported attendance over 50%.

Early years settings

The response rate to the early years local authority survey was 80%, with 121 out of 151 LAs submitting data on 7 January.

The following figures are adjusted for non-response. More information can be found in the Methodology section of this release.

  • An estimated 49,000 early years settings were open on 7 January. This represents 72% of all settings, with 13% closed and 15% unknown [22]. The percentage closed may include some providers which are open, due to differences in the ways local authorities collect data and report non-responses. This is currently being reviewed.
  • We estimate 542,000 children attended early years settings on 7 January. This represents approximately 37% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time [23].
  • 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. We estimate that the  542,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 52% of the usual daily level [24].

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

[22] Due to rounding, these do not always sum to 100%. 

[23] 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.

[24] 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.

Attendance rates for vulnerable children

Attendance rates for vulnerable children are presented as a proportion of the estimated number of children aged 0-4 with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) using formal childcare plus the total number of Children in Need aged 0-4. We do not have estimates of the number of Children in Need who usually use formal childcare. Therefore the attendance rate is presented to allow comparisons to be made over time, rather than the proportion of vulnerable children who would usually attend early years settings. This means this figure is not comparable with the proportion of children who usually attend childcare in term time.

  • Approximately 23,000 vulnerable children attended early years settings on  7 January. This represents around 28% of 0 to 4 year olds classified as ‘Children in Need’ or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) [25].

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

[25] 0 to 4 year olds excluding those in Reception classes. This is an estimate based on the 2020 Children in Need census and January 2020 school census. 

Help and support

Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

Official statistics

These are Official Statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

Contact us

Ask questions and provide feedback

If you have a specific enquiry about Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic statistics and data:

COVID Attendance Statistics

Email
Datarequests.COVID@education.gov.uk

Telephone: Raffaele Sasso
037 0000 2288

Press office

If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone
020 7783 8300

Public enquiries

If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:

Telephone
037 0000 2288