Attendance became mandatory for all pupils from 8 March 2021. Step 4 in the roadmap to COVID-19 recovery marked a new phase in the government’s response to the pandemic. The usual rules and duties around school attendance have therefore been reinstated.
Individuals are now not required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, and any of the following apply:
- they are fully vaccinated
- they are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
- they have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
From 19 July 2021 close contacts will now be identified via NHS Test and Trace and education settings will no longer be expected to undertake contact tracing. In this setting, contacts will only be traced by NHS Test and Trace where the positive case and/or their parent specifically identifies the individual as being a close contact. This is likely to be a small number of individuals who would be most at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of the close contact. Individuals informed they have been in close contact with a positive case will be advised to take a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
To account for increased contact over the summer holidays, official guidance stated that all secondary school pupils should receive 2 on-site lateral flow device tests, 3 to 5 days apart, on their return in the autumn term. To manage this, settings were given the flexibility to commence testing from 3 working days before the start of term and stagger the return of pupils across the first week. Pupils should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when this will be reviewed.
Staff should undertake twice weekly home tests whenever they are on site until the end of September 2021, when this will also be reviewed.
Staff and pupils with a positive Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test result should self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.
Pupils not receiving face-to-face education because they are complying with government guidance or legislation around coronavirus (COVID-19) should receive remote education.
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 asks open schools questions, such as, the number of absent pupils due to a suspected case of coronavirus, a confirmed case of coronavirus or due to isolation for other reasons. For the full list of questions, see ‘Other files' in the ‘Explore data and files' section above.
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 2020. The early years local authority survey moved to four-weekly from 21 September 2021.
Patterns of childcare use vary through the year. Ordinarily, fewer early years settings are open and fewer children are in attendance during school holidays. This is due to reduced demand for childcare and the closure of term-time only and school-based settings. Key school holiday dates have been clearly marked on the corresponding charts.
The number of three-year-olds eligible for funded childcare, and therefore attending early years settings, increases through the academic year. Four-year-olds remain in early years settings before moving into reception in the autumn term, where attendance in settings decreases. Due to this, the underlying attendance assumptions are updated on a termly basis, which represents a break in the time series. This occurred on 10 September 2020 (for Autumn Term 2020), on 7 January 2021 (for Spring Term 2021) and on 22 April 2021 (for Summer Term 2021). For more details on the break in the time series, please see the methodology section.
This data release includes data from the education settings survey from 23 March 2020 to 30 September 2021 (excluding school holidays) and early years settings from 16 April 2020 to 16 September 2021.