Week 7 2021

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


A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March to Thursday 11 February (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from Thursday 16 April to 11 February. The data covers England only. 

This publication provides a high-level summary of estimates from the Department for Education's education settings survey and local authority early years survey. Further data at national and local authority level is available in the underlying data.

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.

Expansion of publication content in future releases

We will publish local authority level summaries for future dates on a half-termly basis. 

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

From 5 January, schools were asked to provide on-site education for vulnerable children and children of critical workers only. 

State-funded schools

Open rates and attendance were affected by poor weather conditions in parts of the country between 8 and 11 February. Figures for 11 February were least affected, with 1% of state-funded schools reporting non-COVID related closures compared to 5% on 8 and 9 February. Any small drops in open rates or attendance between 4 and 11 February are likely due to poor weather conditions. There was no change in rates of COVID-related closures, with less than 0.5% state-funded schools reporting they were closed for COVID-related reasons on on both 4 and 11 February. 

Open rates

  • On 11 February, 99% of state-funded schools were open to children of critical workers and vulnerable children. This is higher than March to May 2020, when schools were previously asked to open only to children of critical workers and vulnerable children. Around 80% of schools were open in May 2020.

Pupil on-site attendance

  • Pupil attendance in state-funded schools was 16% on 11 February, similar to the previous week. Attendance has increased steadily from 14% on 13 January. Pupils not attending on-site should receive remote education.
  • Attendance was 24% in state-funded primary schools, 5% in state-funded secondary schools and 35% in state-funded special schools on 11 February. Attendance has increased in primary and special schools, where attendance was 21% and 30% respectively on 13 January. Attendance in state-funded secondary schools has remained the same since 13 January.
  • Attendance of both children of critical workers and vulnerable children has increased since early January:
    • Approximately 894,000 children of critical workers were in attendance on 11 February, similar to the previous week and up from 820,000 on 13 January.
    • Approximately 38% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 11 February, similar to the previous week and up from 34% on 13 January.
    • Approximately 44% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 11 February, similar to the previous week and up from 40% on 13 January [1].

Workforce on-site

  • We estimate 38% of teachers and school leaders were working on-site in open state-funded schools on 11 February, similar to the previous week. This figure was 50% in primary schools, 23% in secondary schools and 64% in special schools on 11 February.
  • We estimate 54% of teaching assistants and other staff were working on-site in state-funded open schools on 11 February, similar to the previous week. This figure was 60% in primary schools, 38% in secondary schools and 62% in special schools on 11 February.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. We estimate 647,000 children are currently attending early years childcare settings on Thursday 11 February – about 44% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time [2]. 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 Spring term we expect attendance to be 1,052,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week [3]. We estimate that the 647,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 62% of the usual daily level.


[1]  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. 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. This means our attendance figures for pupils with a social worker are likely to overestimate attendance.

[2] 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. 

[3] 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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