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 2.9% (236,000) of all pupils on roll in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on 9 Dec, up from 2.6% (208,000) on 25 Nov.
- 91,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus, 1.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, up from 1.0% on 25 Nov when there were 79,000 suspected cases
- 109,000 pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus, 1.3% of pupils on roll in open schools, same on 25 Nov when there were 106,000 confirmed cases
- 12,000 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, same on 25 Nov when there were 10,000 attendance restrictions cases.
- 14,000 pupils absent from open settings due to isolation for other reasons, 0.2% of pupils on roll in open schools, same on 25 Nov when there were 12,000 cases in isolation for other reasons.
- 3,000 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 on 25 Nov when there were 1,000 school closure cases.
- 6,000 pupils were required to remain at home or isolate in line with government guidance, 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools.
Pupil attendance in state-funded schools
- On site attendance in state-funded schools was 88.9% on 9 Dec, down from 89.3% on 25 Nov.
- 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 .
 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 .
- Approximately 83% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 9 Dec, down from 84% on 25 Nov.
- Approximately 82% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in all state-funded schools were in attendance on 9 Dec, down from 83% on 25 Nov. 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 (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 .
- Approximately 87% of all pupils eligible for FSM on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 9 Dec, same on 25 Nov.
 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.