Week 25 2021

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

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  1. Proportion open Further Education settings amended

A summary of attendance in education settings from 23 March 2020 to 17 June 2021, excluding out of term dates as data is not collected. 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.

Pupil absence in schools in England: autumn term stats were published on 27 May 2021 presenting absence data collected via the school census covering the pandemic. That release is derived from pupil level data from which further analysis, such as the amount of time missed, can be derived.

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.

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

This commentary focuses on COVID-19 related absence to give the clearest picture of the impact of the pandemic on pupil attendance. 

From 7 June pupil attendance and COVID-19 related absence figures for secondary schools, special schools, alternative provision and independent schools are adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils identified as not in attendance because they are off-site for approved purposes (see methodology for more detail). Attendance numbers are published for vulnerable children and pupils eligible for FSM but attendance as a proportion of total is omitted, except for primary schools who are unaffected by the adjustment.

Open Rates

  • 99.9% of state-funded schools were open on 17 June, compared with over 99.9% on 10 June.

Pupil absence

For pupils, COVID-19 related absence includes those 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. Pupils self-isolating should receive remote education.

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.

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.

COVID-related pupil absence in state schools has recently increased and is currently at its highest rate since schools reopened in March 2021. 

  • COVID-related pupil absence in state-funded schools adjusted for year 11-13 pupils not expected to attend (off-site for approved purposes) was 3.3% on 17 June. This is up from 1.2% on 10 June.
    • In primary schools, COVID-related absence was 2.7% on 17 June, up from 1.1% on 10 June.
    • In secondary schools, COVID-related absence adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend was 4.2% on 17 June. This is up from 1.4% on 10 June.
  • A breakdown of COVID-19 related pupil absence in open schools on 17 June 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 17 June, 2.3% of pupils were absent for this reason, up from 0.5% on 10 June.
  • 0.1% of pupils in state-funded schools were absent on 17 June 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 10 June (adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend)

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 primary0.2%0.1%1.8%0.6%
State-funded secondary0.2%0.2%3.2%0.5%
State-funded special0.3%0.1%1.2%0.6%
All state-funded schools0.2%0.1%2.3%0.6%

Pupil attendance

  • Attendance in all state-funded schools adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend was 89.7% on 17 June.  This is down from 92.4% on 10 June.
  • Attendance in state-funded primary schools was 93.0% on 17 June, down from 95.1% on 10 June.
  • Pupil attendance in secondary schools adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend was 84.9% on 17 June. This is down from 88.7% on 10 June.

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.

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-related absence amongst workforce was consistently low (at or below 0.5%) during the first half of the Summer term for both teachers and school leaders and teaching assistants and other staff. Absences have been increasing from 20 May to the most recent date of 17 June.

  • We estimate that 1.7% of teachers and school leaders in open state-funded schools were absent due to COVID-19 reasons on 17 June, up from 0.9% on 10 June.
  • We estimate that 1.5% of teaching assistants and other staff in open state-funded schools were absent due to COVID-19 reasons on 17 June, up from 0.7% on 10 June.
  • We estimate that 4.4% of teachers and school leaders and 4.3% of teaching assistants and other staff in open state-funded schools were absent for other reasons on 17 June. This is up from 4.0% for both groups on 10 June.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey moved to fortnightly from 29 April 2021 with no publication due this week.

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