Week 42 2021

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

Published

Introduction

A summary of attendance in education settings for the 2021/22 academic year, excluding out of term dates as data is not collected. The data covers England only. 

Primary data sources on infection, incidence, and COVID-19 cases overall are not shown in this publication but are available on the coronavirus in the UK dashboardnational COVID-19 surveillance reports and coronavirus infection survey pilot statistics.

This publication provides national and local authority level summary estimates from the Department for Education's daily education settings survey and local authority early years survey. Data files are available in the ‘Explore data and files’ section on this page for further details and analysis.

Pupil absence in schools in England: autumn term statistics 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.


Headline facts and figures - 2021

Open Rates

  • Nearly all state-funded schools were open on 14 Oct 2021, similar to the 99.9% open rate on 30 Sept.

Pupil absence

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) related pupil absence in all state-funded schools was 2.6% on 14 Oct, up slightly from 2.5% on 30 Sept.
  • Among pupils absent for COVID-19 reasons, the main reasons for absence on 14 Oct were: pupils with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (1.4%), and pupils with a suspected case of COVID-19 (1.0%).

Pupil on site attendance 

  • Attendance in all state-funded schools was 90.0% on 14 Oct, up from 89.5% on 30 Sept. 

Workforce absence

  • We estimate that 1.8% of teachers and school leaders in open state-funded schools were absent due to COVID-19 reasons on 14 Oct, up slightly from 1.7% on 30 Sept.
  • We estimate that 1.6% of teaching assistants and other staff in open state-funded schools were absent due to COVID-19 reasons on 14 Oct, up slightly from 1.5% on 30 Sept.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey resumed on 16 September for the start of the 2021/22 academic year. We estimate 751,000 children were attending early years childcare settings on  Thursday 14 October 2021 – about 59% 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 Autumn term we expect attendance to be 912,000 [2]. We estimate that the 751,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 82% 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.

 

Explore data and files

All data used in this release is available as open data for download


Open data

Browse and download individual open data files from this release in our data catalogue


Guidance

Learn more about the data files used in this release using our online guidance


Create your own tables

You can view featured tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from the open data using our table tool


All supporting files

All supporting files from this release are listed for individual download below:

List of all supporting files

Background

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. 

Staff and secondary school pupils should continue to test twice weekly at home, with lateral flow device (LFD) test kits, 3 to 4 days apart. Testing remains voluntary but is strongly encouraged.

There is no need for primary age pupils (those in year 6 and below) to test.

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.

Data coverage

This data release includes data from the education settings survey from 23 March 2020 to 14 October 2021 (excluding school holidays) and early years settings from 16 April 2020 to 14 October 2021.

Open status in education settings

Based on the 12,600 (58%) state-funded schools that responded to the Education settings survey on 14 Oct:

  • Over 99.9% of state-funded schools were open on 14 Oct.
  • For each state-funded school type (i.e. primary, secondary, special and alternative provision) the open rate was at least 99.9% on 14 Oct.

Further education colleges are asked to provide data for the previous day; therefore, the data is lagged by one day and our reporting focuses on Wednesdays rather than Thursdays. Around 200 (85%) further education colleges and 100 (62%) special post-16 institutions responded to the Education settings survey. 

Of these, all further education colleges and special post 16 institutions [1] were open on 13 Oct.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

[1] There are only a small number of students at special post 16 settings therefore the data is expected to be variable and sensitive to changes.

Attendance in state-funded schools

Department for Education guidance states that school attendance became mandatory once again for all pupils from 8 March 2021. Pupils with COVID-19 symptoms should not attend school. 

From 19 July 2021 close contacts will now be identified via NHS Test and Trace. However, the vast majority of pupils in state-funded schools are under 18 years and 6 months, and therefore 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.

Absence in state-funded schools

We estimate 2.6% (209,000) of all pupils on roll in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on 14 Oct, up from 2.5% (204,000) on 30 Sept.

This includes:

  • 81,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus, 1.0% of pupils on roll in open schools, same as on 30 Sept when there were 84,000 suspected cases
  • 111,000 pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus, 1.4% of pupils on roll in open schools up from 1.3% on 30 Sept when there were 102,000 confirmed cases
  • 5,000 pupils absent from open settings due to attendance restrictions being in place to manage an outbreak, 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, number and proportion same as on 30 Sept.
  • 11,000 pupils absent from open settings due to isolation for other reasons, 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, number and proportion same as on 30 Sept.
  • fewer than 500 pupils were absent as a result of school closures due to COVID-related reasons, less than 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, same as less than 0.1% on 30 Sept when there were 2,000 school closure cases
  • However, the vast majority of pupils in state-funded schools are under 18 years and 6 months, and therefore 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.

Pupil attendance in state-funded schools

  • On site attendance in state-funded schools was 90.0% on 14 Oct up from 89.5% on 30 Sept.
  • 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 way this figure (4.7%) is calculated and attendance estimates are calculated which affect comparability, particularly during the Summer term [2].
  • See chart below for a summary of attendance in all state-funded schools from 9 September 2020 to 14 October 2021. Please note the changes in methodology as noted in the chart and footnotes which may affect comparability between terms. Change in attendance rates reflect changes in government policy only and should be treated as management information only.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

[2] 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.

Vulnerable children in state-funded schools

Attendance of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP), and pupils with a social worker is typically lower than for other pupils [3].

  • Approximately 85% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 14 Oct, up from 84% on 30 Sept.
  • Approximately 84% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in all state-funded schools were in attendance on 14 Oct, up from 83% on 30 Sept. 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 [4]. Therefore, these estimates only account for pupils with a social worker that are identified by schools.

Pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) in state-funded schools

Recently published data shows that the number of pupils eligible for FSM has increased from 1.44 million (17.3% of all pupils) in January 2020 to 1.74 million (20.8% of all pupils) in January 2021.

Attendance of pupils eligible for FSM is typically lower than for other pupils [5].

  • Approximately 88% of all pupils eligible for FSM on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 14 Oct same on 30 Sept.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

[3] 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.  

[4] 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.

[5] 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.

Attendance by type of education setting

Pupil on site attendance

Rates of pupil absence due to confirmed cases and isolation may be impacted by levels of testing.

  • Attendance in state-funded primary schools was 92.3% on 14 Oct, down from 92.6% on 30 Sept.
  • Attendance in state-funded secondary schools was 87.6% on 14 Oct, up from 86.3% on 30 Sept.
  • Attendance in state-funded special schools was 83.1% on 14 Oct, up from 81.9% on 30 Sept. Attendance at special schools is typically lower than at mainstream settings.
  • Attendance in state-funded alternative provision was 59.6% on 14 Oct, up from 59.2% on 30 Sept.

Attendance of vulnerable children and pupils eligible for free school meals

  • In primary schools, approximately 90% of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP), 91% of pupils with a social worker and 91% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 14 Oct. Attendance rates for these pupils were the same on 30 Sept.
  • In secondary schools, approximately 83% of pupils with an EHCP, 77% of pupils with a social worker and 85% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 14 Oct. Attendance rates for these pupils are lower than on 30 Sept when 82% of pupils with an EHCP, same for pupils with a social worker, and down 84% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance.

Attendance in further education colleges 

Attendance figures for colleges include adult learners and part-time learners, as well as 16-19 year olds on full study programmes. Typically, attendance in further education colleges varies each day, term and academic year due to part-time learners and levels of enrolments.

  • We estimate 466,000 students were attending colleges on site on 13 Oct, up from 465,000 students on 29 Sept. Note that this uses 'expected to attend' figures from the previous academic years for further education colleges that did not respond. For further detail see methodology.
  • On site attendance in colleges in the autumn term of 2020 typically ranged between 250,000 and 400,000 students each day. Due to quality issues with some data collected in the autumn term, attendance estimates in colleges are not available for each day in the autumn term.

Workforce absence in state-funded schools

For workforce, COVID-19 related absence includes staff with a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus and those required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with a confirmed case Of COVID-19, where they are not exempt from self-isolation under the changes of 16th August 2021

Rates of confirmed cases and isolation among workforce may be impacted by levels of testing. Staff should continue to test twice weekly at home, with lateral flow device (LFD) test kits, 3 to 4 days apart, Testing remains voluntary but is strongly encouraged.

 Teachers and school leaders 

We estimate 1.8% of teachers and school leaders were absent from open schools due to COVID-19 related reasons on 14 Oct, up from 1.7% on 30 Sept, This includes: 

  • 0.4% of teachers and school leaders absent from open schools with a suspected case of coronavirus on 
    14 Oct, same on 30 Sept.
  • 1.3% of teachers and school leaders absent from open schools with a confirmed case of coronavirus on 
    14 Oct, up from 1.2% on 30 Sept.
  • 0.1% of teachers and school leaders required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with a 
    confirmed case of COVID-19 within setting on 14 Oct, same on 30 Sept.
  • 0.1% of teachers and school leaders required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with a 
    confirmed case of COVID-19 outside education settings on 14 Oct, same on 30 Sept.

There were 4.8% of teachers and school leaders absent from open schools for 'other' reasons on 14 Oct, up 
from 4.4% on 30 Sept.

Teaching assistants and other staff 

We estimate 1.6% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent from open schools due to COVID-19 related 
reasons on 14 Oct, up from 1.5% on 30 Sept. This includes: 

  • 0.4% of teaching assistants and other staff absent from open schools with a suspected case of 
    coronavirus on 14 Oct, same on 30 Sept.
  • 1.1% of teaching assistants and other staff absent from open schools with a confirmed case of 
    coronavirus on 14 Oct, up from 0.9% on 30 Sept.
  • 0.1% teaching assistants and other staff required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with a 
    confirmed case of COVID-19 within setting on 14 Oct, same on 30 Sept.
  • 0.1% of teaching assistants and Other staff required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with 
    a confirmed case of COVID-19 outside education settings on 14 Oct, same on 30 Sept.

There were 5.3% of teaching assistants and other staff absent from open schools for 'other' reasons on 14 Oct, up 
from 5.0% on 30 Sept.

Footnotes

  1. All national level figures are adjusted for non-response. Regional and local authority level figures are based on responding schools only. See accompanying document for full methodology.
  2. Absence rates for teaching assistants and other staff are likely to be less robust as more work part-time. There are likely to be inconsistencies in how schools treat part time staff in their reported data, for example some may update their on roll numbers daily to account for part-time staff ‘expected’ to be on site and others may not.
  3. Workforce absences are not known in closed schools. This means these figures are likely to be under-estimates of the numbers of workforce with confirmed or suspected cases and self-isolating, particularly when the proportion of schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons is higher.
  4. The purpose of this data collection is primarily to understand attendance and teacher availability. This data is reported directly by schools via DfE's daily education settings survey. It is not the primary source of data on infection, incidence and COVID-19 cases overall.
  5. COVID-19 related reasons include a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus and those required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, where they are not exempt from self-isolation under the changes of 16th August 2021.

Workforce absence by type of education setting

Workforce absence due to COVID-19 reasons by state-funded school type

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 1.8% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded primary schools  on 14 Oct, up from 1.6% on 30 Sept.
  • 1.8% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded secondary schools  on 14 Oct, up from 1.7% on 30 Sept.
  • 2.0% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded special schools on 14 Oct, down from 2.1% on 30 Sept.
  • 1.7% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded alternative provision on 14 Oct, up from 1.5% on 30 Sept.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 1.7% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded primary schools on 14 Oct, up from 1.6% on 30 Sept.
  • 1.4% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded secondary schools on 14 Oct, up from 1.1% on 30 Sept.
  • 1.9% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded special schools on 14 Oct, up from 2.1% on 30 Sept.
  • 1.9% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded alternative provision on 14 Oct, up from 1.7% on 30 Sept.

Further education colleges and special post-16 institutions are asked to provide data for the previous day; therefore, the data is lagged by one day and our reporting focuses on Wednesdays rather than Thursdays. 

Workforce absence due to COVID-19 reasons in further education and special post-16 settings

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 1.1% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in further education colleges on 13 Oct, up from 1.0% on 29 Sept.
  • 1.5%  of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in special post-16 institutions on 13 Oct, down from 1.7% on 29 Sept.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 0.8% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent due to COVID-19 reasons in further education colleges on 13 Oct, same on 29 Sept.
  • 1.6% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in special post-16 institutions on 13 Oct, same on 29 Sept.

Footnotes

  1. All national level figures are adjusted for non-response. Regional and local authority level figures are based on responding schools only. See accompanying document for full methodology.
  2. Absence rates for teaching assistants and other staff are likely to be less robust as more work part-time. There are likely to be inconsistencies in how schools treat part time staff in their reported data, for example some may update their on roll numbers daily to account for part-time staff ‘expected’ to be on site and others may not.
  3. Workforce absences are not known in closed schools. This means these figures are likely to be under-estimates of the numbers of workforce with confirmed or suspected cases and self-isolating, particularly when the proportion of schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons is higher.
  4. The purpose of this data collection is primarily to understand attendance and teacher availability. This data is reported directly by schools via DfE's daily education settings survey. It is not the primary source of data on infection, incidence and COVID-19 cases overall.
  5. COVID-19 related reasons include a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus and those required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, where they are not exempt from self-isolation under the changes of 16th August 2021.
  6. Figures for independent schools are unlikely to be representative. We looked at a sample of non-responding school websites across different phases to assess whether they were open to children of key workers and vulnerable children. This was to enable us to assess whether non-responding schools were as likely to be open as the responding schools. For independent schools, we found evidence that non-responding schools were more likely to be closed than responding schools. Open rates and attendance rates for independent schools are likely to be lower than reported here.
  7. There are only a small number of special post 16 settings therefore the data is expected to be variable and sensitive to changes in one or more settings.

Early years settings

The Department for Education has been collecting LA-level data on early years childcare provision since April 2020 on a weekly and until summer 2021 on a fortnightly basis. Data collection was paused over summer, resuming on 16 September 2021 for the start of the 2021/22  academic year. This data has been crucial to the Department during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure it holds timely data on the use of childcare, and we are incredibly grateful to LAs and providers for taking the time to send it to us during this time. In line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics we recently sought views on making some changes to the early years data collection. Having reviewed the needs of a range of users, we have decided to continue collecting and publishing data on early years childcare provision but on a monthly basis, for the rest of the year. We will review and seek views on future plans towards the end of the autumn term.

The response rate to the early years local authority survey was 88%, with 133 out of 152 LAs submitting data on 14 October 2021.

The following figures are adjusted for non-response at a local authority level. More information can be found in the Methodology section of this release.

  • An estimated 53,000 early years settings were open on 14 October 2021. This represents 81% of all settings, with 6% closed and 13% unknown [9]. The percentage closed may include some providers which are open, due to differences in the ways local authorities collect data and report non-responses. The percentage unknown covers settings which may be open or closed.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

[9] Due to rounding, these do not always sum to 100%. 

Estimated number of children in attendance

The number of children in attendance is as reported by Local Authorities, based on data they collect from Early Years providers. Depending on the data collection methodology used, estimates could be affected by the number of providers submitting their information every other week. As such there is a high degree of uncertainty around the figures. We believe actual attendance to be higher than indicated, due to not all Local Authorities reporting data for all providers.

  • We estimate 751,000 children attended early years settings on 14 October 2021. This represents approximately 59% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time [10].
  • 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 Autumn term we expect attendance to be around 912,000. We estimate that the 751,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 82% of the usual daily level [11].
  • Approximately 28,000 vulnerable children attended early years settings on 14 October 2021. This represents around 35% of 0 to 4 year olds classified as ‘Children in Need’ or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) [12].

------------------------------------------------------------------------

[10] 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.

[11] 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.

[12] Attendance rates for vulnerable children are presented as a proportion of the estimated number of children aged 0-4 with an EHCP using formal childcare (from the 2020 Children in Need census) plus the total number of Children in Need aged 0-4 (from the January 2020 school census). This excludes children in Reception classes. We do not have estimates of the number of Children in Need who usually use formal childcare. The attendance rate is presented to allow comparisons to be made over time, but does not accurately represent a ‘typical attendance rate’ and is not comparable with the proportion of children who usually attend childcare in term time nor with the schools attendance rates for Vulnerable Children. 

Help and support

Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

Official statistics

These are Official Statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

Contact us

Ask questions and provide feedback

If you have a specific enquiry about Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic statistics and data:

COVID Attendance Statistics

Email
Datarequests.COVID@education.gov.uk

Telephone: Raffaele Sasso
037 0000 2288

Press office

If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone
020 7783 8300

Public enquiries

If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:

Telephone
037 0000 2288

Opening times:
Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays)