Department for Education guidance states that school attendance became mandatory once again for all pupils from 8 March 2021. Pupils with COVID-19 symptoms, or who have someone in their household who has COVID-19 symptoms, should not attend school. If someone who attended school then tests positive for COVID-19, pupils they have been in close contact with will also be asked to self-isolate.
Absence in state-funded schools
The education settings survey asks open schools how many pupils are absent due to a suspected case of coronavirus, a confirmed case of coronavirus, self-isolation due to potential contact inside the school or self-isolation due to potential contact outside the school. These same questions were asked between 12 October and 17 December.
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 dashboard, national 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.
For pupils, COVID-19 related absence includes pupils 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.
We estimate that 14.3% of all pupils on roll in state-funded schools (adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend), did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on 15 July. This is up from 11.2% on 8 July and 8.5% on 1 July.
- 34,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus, 0.5% of pupils on roll in open schools
- 47,000 pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus, 0.6% of pupils on roll in open schools
- 774,000 pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus from inside the educational setting, 10.6% of pupils on roll in open schools
- 160,000 pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus from outside the educational setting, 2.2% of pupils on roll in open schools
- 35,000 pupils were absent as a result of school closures due to COVID-related reasons (adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend), 0.5% of pupils on roll in open schools
Pupil attendance in state-funded schools
- On-site attendance adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend, in state-funded schools was 76.7% on 15 July. This is down from 80.4% on 8 July and 83.4% on 1 July.
- The overall absence rate in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in England in the 2018/19 academic year was 4.7%. However, there are differences in the calculation of this figure 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 second half of the summer term, however these groups are included in the daily education settings survey until 7 June, after which year 11-13 pupils identified as not in attendance because they are off-site for approved purposes are excluded.
 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 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 2018/19 overall absence rates.
From 7 June pupil attendance and COVID-19 related absence figures for secondary schools, special schools, alternative provision and independent schools were adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils identified as not in attendance because they are off-site for approved purposes, to improve the accuracy of attendance estimates (see methodology for more detail). Attendance numbers will be published for vulnerable children and and pupils eligible for FSM but attendance as a proportion of total is omitted. Primary schools are unaffected and rates published below.
Vulnerable children in state-funded primary schools
Attendance of pupils with an EHCP and pupils with a social worker is typically lower than for other pupils . For comparison overall attendance at state funded primary schools was 82.8% on 15 July.
- Approximately 82% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded primary schools were in attendance on 15 July, down from from 84% on 8 July.
- Approximately 81% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in state-funded primary schools were in attendance on 15 July, down from 83% on 8 July. 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.
Pupils eligible for free school meals in state-funded primary schools
Attendance of pupils eligible for FSM is typically lower than for other pupils . Recently published data shows that the number of pupils eligible for free schools meals has increased from 1.44 million in January 2020 to 1.74 million in January 2021.
- Approximately 81% of all pupils eligible for FSM on roll in state-funded primary schools were in attendance on 15 July, down from 83% on 8 July.
 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.
 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.
 Data from the 2018/19 academic year calculates the typical absence rate of FSM pupils to be 7.5% when compared to 4.7% for all pupils. This data is published here.