Data at local authority level is published for each Thursday in the 2020/21 academic year up to Thursday 27 May in underlying data table 1c. Data for some Wednesdays is also provided, where this was used for the national commentary.
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 50% or below 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 10 or fewer 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, particularly during the Summer term  Absence rates calculated from the census exclude students in year 12 and 13 and those in year 11 are excluded during the summer term, however these groups are currently included in the daily education settings survey.
Summary of absence by local area
Off-site provision for pupils in year 11 and 13 is impacting attendance estimates, therefore this commentary focuses on COVID-19 related absence to give the clearest picture of the impact of the pandemic on pupil attendance. All metrics usually available are included in the underlying data.
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 and over time.
Chart 1 summarises COVID-19 related absence in each region from October 2020 to May 2021.
In the first half of the 2020/21 Summer term:
- With the exception of the North West, COVID-19 related pupil absence remained relatively low in all regions compared to the 2020/21 Autumn and Spring terms where data is available .
- The highest rate of absence in this period was 4% in the North West on 27 May, where COVID-19 absence has increased this half term. This is predominantly due to an increase in cases of coronavirus in the local authorities of Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen:
- In Bolton, 21% of primary and 31% of secondary pupils were reported as absent for COVID-19 related reasons on 27 May, based on response rates of 58% and 70% respectively.
- In Blackburn with Darwen, 15% of primary and 13% of secondary pupils were reported as absent for COVID-19 related reasons on 27 May, based on response rates of 91% and 100% respectively.
- The South West had the lowest levels of COVID-19 related pupil absence of any region, with levels well below 1% throughout the half term.
- Comparing COVID-19 absence in primary and secondary state funded schools, they follow a similar trend between 22 April and 20 May in all regions. The increase in COVID-19 absences on 27 May in the North West is more pronounced in state funded secondary schools than primary schools.
 Overall absence rates that use school census data include pupils aged 5-15 in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools. Our attendance estimates include 4-year olds in reception and pupils over the age of 15 in state-funded schools. Both of these groups of pupils have higher than average absence rates. Pupils on roll in alternative provision, who have a higher than average absence rate, are included in our attendance estimates, but excluded from the overall absence rates that use school census data
Charts 2 and 3 show COVID-19 related pupil absence in state primaries and secondaries respectively in each local authority from 22 April to 27 May.
- Areas with higher COVID-19 related absence are generally local authorities with higher rates of COVID-19 in the population at that time and vice versa.
- The ranges for each chart are automatically set and the same shade does not mean the same level of attendance on each chart.
- Data for Northamptonshire are not displayed on the chart following boundary changes. Data for this local authority is available in the underlying data.
- Response rates for state-funded primary and state-funded secondary schools should be considered when making comparisons between local authorities.
Chart 4 summarises workforce absence due to COVID-19 related reasons and absence due to other reasons between 22 April and 27 May.
The chart combines data for teachers and school leaders and teaching assistants and support staff in state-funded schools to give an overall workforce figure because their levels of absence and trends over time are similar. Data for the separate groups is in the underlying data.
- Across all regions, the proportion of the school workforce absent due to COVID-19 related reasons has remained low throughout the first half of the Summer term.
- On 27 May there was a slight increase in COVID-19 related absences in the North West.
- Absence for other reasons has remained relatively stable during the first half of the Summer term.