Week 30 2021

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


A summary of attendance and COVID-19 related absences in education settings at local authority and region level from 10 June 2021 and 15 July 2021 and attendance in early years settings from 23 March 2020 to 22 July 2021. The data covers England only.

Data for education settings in this release is not new but is presented at regional and local authority levels. National level COVID-19 related absences in education settings for 15th July 2021 is here.  

The education settings survey closed on 16th July 2021 at the end of summer term. This release marks the final publication on absence and attendance in schools for the 2020/21 academic year. Details on when the collection will recommence will be published in due course. 

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.

Summary of pupil absence by local area 

  • COVID-19 related absence in state funded schools adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend, increased across all English regions between 10 June and 15 July.
  • The highest rate of COVID-19 related absence adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend, during this period was 26.5% in the North East on 15 July
  • London had the lowest rate of COVID 19 related absence adjusted for Y11-13 not expected to attend on 15 July (9.6%), which still represents a large increase when compared with 10 June (0.9%)
  • The North West had the highest rates of COVID related absence between 10 – 24 June when compared to other regions. However, this increased at a slower rate between 1 and 15 July by 1.3 percentage points (15.4% to 16.7%) compared with the national rate of increase of 5.8 percentage points (8.5% to 14.3%) over the same period.

Workforce absence by local area

  • Across all regions, the proportion of the state funded school workforce absent due to COVID-19 related reasons increased between 10 June and 15 July.
  • In all regions, COVID-19 related workforce absence was higher than absence due to other reasons on 15 July .
  • The North East had the highest COVID-19 related workforce absences on 15 July, with 11.1% of teachers and schools leaders and 11.0% teaching assistants or other staff absent for COVID-19 related reasons. This compares with 6.6% of teachers and schools leaders and 6.4% teaching assistants or other staff absent for COVID-19 related reasons nationally on 15 July.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey has moved to fortnightly. We estimate 727,000 children are currently attending early years childcare settings on Thursday 22 July 2021 – about 45% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time [1]. 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 Summer term we expect attendance to be 1,154,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week [2]. We estimate that the 727,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 63% of the usual daily level.


[1] 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. 

[2] 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.

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