Week 10 2022

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

Published

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 and spring terms statistics were published on 21 October 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 - 2022

Local authorities advertised their schools as being on half term from 11 to 28 February. National data for this period is available in table 1a for download. Data for these dates are not comparable to dates when schools are in normal term time. 

In this summary, national data refers to Thursday 3 March 2022. Local authority data is included, and the reference date is Thursday 10 February 2022.

Open Rates

  • 99.9% of all state-funded schools were open on 3 Mar 2022, down from over 99.9% on 10 Feb 2022.

Pupil absence

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) related pupil absence in all state-funded schools was 0.7% on 3 Mar, down from 2.2% on 10 Feb.
  • Among pupils absent for COVID-19 reasons, the main reasons for absence on 3 Mar were: pupils with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (0.6%), and pupils with a suspected case of COVID-19 (0.1%).

Pupil on site attendance 

  • Attendance in all state-funded schools was 92.2% on 3 Mar, up from 90.3% on 10 Feb. 

Workforce absence

  • We estimate that 5.8% of teachers and school leaders were absent from open schools on 3 Mar (with 1.3% absent for COVID-19 related reasons), down from 7.5% on 10 Feb.
  • We estimate that 5.4% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent from open schools on 3 Mar (with 1.1% absent for COVID-19 related reasons), down from 7.3% on 10 Feb.

Levels of workforce absence in education settings

Teachers and school leaders

  • 11% of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teachers and school leaders absent on 3 Mar, down from 17% on 10 Feb. 
  • 57% of all state-funded schools had up to 5% of their teachers and school leaders absent on 3 Mar, up from 45% on 10 Feb.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 6% of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teaching assistants and other staff absent on 3 Mar, down from 12% on 10 Feb.
  • 55% of all state-funded schools had up to 5% of their teaching assistants and other staff absent on 3 Mar, up from 41% on 10 Feb.

Regional absence

  • The highest rate of COVID-19 related pupil absence was 3.1% in South West on 10 Feb. North West and London had the lowest rate of COVID 19 related absence of 1.6% on 10 Feb.
  • South West had the highest COVID-19 related workforce absences on 10 Feb, with 3.7% of teachers and school leaders and 3.3% teaching assistants or other staff absent for COVID-19 related reasons. 

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

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All supporting files

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

List of all supporting files

Background

COVID-19 presents a low risk of serious illness to most children and most of those who are fully vaccinated. Due to high immunity in society and a greater understanding of the virus, we can now transition to a new phase: living with COVID-19. Public health advice is that regular testing in mainstream education and childcare settings is no longer needed since 21 February.

Anyone with symptoms should take a PCR test and stay at home if positive. People who have tested positive will continue to be advised to stay at home for five full days and then receive two negative test results on consecutive days before leaving.

Data coverage

This data release includes data from the education settings survey from 23 March 2020 to 3 March 2022 (excluding school holidays) and early years settings via Local Authorities from 16 April 2020 to 9 December 2021. A short term survey of early years settings took place from 10 January 2022 until 14 February to capture data on workforce absence and child attendance during the peak of the Omicron wave. This has now concluded.

The education setting survey has changed from daily to weekly from 7 March 2022. Data will be collected every Thursday and we will continue to publish every fortnight.

Open status in education settings

Based on the 9,900 (46%) state-funded schools that responded to the Education settings survey on 3 Mar:

  • 99.9% of state-funded schools were open on 3 Mar.
  • For the state-funded school types, primary, secondary, special, alternative provision, the educational setting open rate was at least 99.9% on 3 Mar. 

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. Around 200 (62%) further education colleges and 100 (51%) special post-16 institutions responded to the Education settings survey. 

Of these, all further education colleges and of special post 16 institutions [1] were open on 2 Mar.

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[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

Absence in state-funded schools

We estimate 0.7% (58,000) of all pupils on roll in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on 3 Mar, down from 2.2% (182,000) on 10 Feb.

This includes:

  • 6,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus, 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, down from 0.3% on 10 Feb when there were 22,000 suspected cases.
  • 45,000 pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus, 0.6% of pupils on roll in open schools, down from 1.7% on 10 Feb when there were 136,000 confirmed cases.
  • 1,000 pupils absent from open settings due to attendance restrictions being in place to manage an outbreak or exceptional circumstances related to COVID, less than 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, down from 0.2% on 10 Feb when there were 13,000 attendance restrictions cases.
  • 5,000 pupils absent from open settings due to isolation for other reasons, 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, same on 10 Feb when there were 8,000 cases in isolation for other reasons.
  • 1,000 pupils were required to remain at home or isolate in line with government guidance, less than 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, same on 10 Feb when there were 2,000 cases required to remain at home or isolate in line with government guidance.

Pupil attendance in state-funded schools

  • On site attendance in state-funded schools was 92.2% on 3 Mar, up from 90.3% on 10 Feb.
  • 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].

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[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 88% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 3 Mar, up from 85% on 10 Feb.
  • Approximately 85% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in all state-funded schools were in attendance on 3 Mar, up from 83% on 10 Feb. 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 90% of all pupils eligible for FSM on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 3 Mar, up from 88% on 10 Feb.

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[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 95.1% on 3 Mar, up from 93.2% on 10 Feb.
  • Attendance in state-funded secondary schools was 89.0% on 3 Mar, up from 87.3% on 10 Feb.
  • Attendance in state-funded special schools was 87.6% on 3 Mar, up from 82.3% on 10 Feb. Attendance at special schools is typically lower than at mainstream settings.
  • Attendance in state-funded alternative provision was 58.8% on 3 Mar, up from 57.0% on 10 Feb.

Attendance of vulnerable children and pupils eligible for free school meals

  • In primary schools, approximately 93% of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP), 93% of pupils with a social worker, and 94% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 3 Mar. Attendance rates are higher than on 10 Feb when 91% for pupils with an EHCP, 91% of pupils with a social worker, and 92% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance. 
  • In secondary schools, approximately 83% of pupils with an EHCP, 77% of pupils with a social worker, and 86% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 3 Mar. Attendance rates are higher than on 10 Feb when 82% for pupils with an EHCP, 75% of pupils with a social worker and 83% 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 415,000 students were attending colleges on site on 2 Mar, up from 403,000 9 Feb. 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

Teachers and school leaders 

We estimate that 5.8% (31,000) of teachers and school leaders were absent from open schools on 3 Mar, down from 7.5% (40,000) on 10 Feb.

We estimate 1.3% of teachers and school leaders were absent from open schools due to COVID-19 related reasons on 3 Mar, down from 2.8% on 10 Feb, this includes: 

  • less than 0.1% of teachers and school leaders absent from open schools with a suspected case of coronavirus on 3 Mar, down from 0.1% on 10 Feb.
  • 1.2% of teachers and school leaders absent from open schools with a confirmed case of coronavirus on 3 Mar, down from 2.6% on 10 Feb.
  • less than 0.1% of teachers and school leaders required to remain at home or isolate by NHS Test and Trace or in line with government guidance due to close contact with a case of COVID-19 within education setting on 3 Mar, same on 10 Feb.
  • less than 0.1% of teachers and school leaders required to remain at home or isolate by NHS Test and Trace or in line with government guidance due to close contact with a case of COVID-19 outside education settings on 3 Mar, same on 10 Feb.

There were 4.5% of teachers and school leaders absent from open schools for 'other' reasons on 3 Mar, down from 4.7% on 10 Feb.

Teaching assistants and other staff

We estimate that 5.4% (38,000) of teaching assistants and other staff were absent from open schools on 3 Mar, down from 7.3% (52,000) on 10 Feb.

We estimate 1.1% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent from open schools due to COVID-19 related 
reasons on 3 Mar, down from 2.5% on 10 Feb. This includes: 

  • less than 0.1% of teaching assistants and other staff absent from open schools with a suspected case of 
    coronavirus on 3 Mar, down from 0.1% on 10 Feb.
  • 1.1% of teaching assistants and other staff absent from open schools with a confirmed case of 
    coronavirus on 3 Mar, down from 2.3% on 10 Feb.
  • less than 0.1% teaching assistants and other staff required to remain at home or isolate by NHS Test and Trace or in line with government guidance due to close contact with a case of COVID-19 within education setting on 3 Mar, down from 0.1% on 10 Feb.
  • less than 0.1% of teaching assistants and other staff required to remain at home or isolate by NHS Test and Trace or in line with government guidance due to close contact with a case of COVID-19 outside education settings on 3 Mar, down from 0.1% on 10 Feb.

There were 4.2% of teaching assistants and other staff absent from open schools for 'other' reasons on 3 Mar, down from 4.8% on 10 Feb.

Workforce absence by type of education setting

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

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 1.3% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded primary schools on 3 Mar, down from 2.8% on 10 Feb.
  • 1.3% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded secondary schools on 3 Mar, down from 2.7% on 10 Feb.
  • 1.6% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded special schools on 3 Mar, down from 3.7% on 10 Feb.
  • 2.0% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded alternative provision on 3 Mar, down from 3.4% on 10 Feb.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 1.2% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded primary schools on 3 Mar, down from 2.6% on 10 Feb.
  • 1.0% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded secondary schools on 3 Mar, down from 2.0% on 10 Feb.
  • 1.5% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded special schools on 3 Mar, down from 3.9% on 10 Feb.
  • 0.9% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded alternative provision on 3 Mar, down from 3.0% on 10 Feb.

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

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 1.4% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in further education colleges on 2 Mar, down from 2.2% on 9 Feb.
  • 3.1% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in special post-16 institutions on 2 Mar, down from 3.8% on 9 Feb.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 1.1% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent due to COVID-19 reasons in further education colleges on 2 Mar, down from 1.7% on 9 Feb.
  • 2.7% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in special post-16 institutions on 2 Mar, down from 4.1% on 9 Feb.

Levels of workforce absence in education settings

Teachers and school leaders

11% (2,400) of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teachers and school leaders absent on 3 Mar. By state-funded school phase:

  • 12% (2,000) in state-funded primary schools
  • 3% (100) in state-funded secondary schools
  • 14% (200) in state-funded special schools 
  • 26% (100) in state-funded alternative provision 

57% (12,300) of all state-funded schools had up to 5% of teachers and school leaders absent on 3 Mar. By state-funded school phase:

  • 60% (10,100) in state-funded primary schools
  • 47% (1,600) in state-funded secondary schools
  • 37% (400) in state-funded special schools 
  • 46% (200) in state-funded alternative provision 

Teaching assistants and other staff

6% (1,400) of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teaching assistants and other staff absent on 3 Mar. By state-funded school phase:

  • 7% (1,100) in state-funded primary schools
  • 3% (100) in state-funded secondary schools
  • 11% (100) in state-funded special schools 
  • 14% (less than 100) in state-funded alternative provision 

55% (12,000) of all state-funded schools had up to 5% of teaching assistants and other staff absent on 3 Mar. By state-funded school phase:

  • 56% (9,400) in state-funded primary schools
  • 58% (2,000) in state-funded secondary schools
  • 30% (300) in state-funded special schools 
  • 52% (200) in state-funded alternative provision 

Absence by local authority

Interpretation of local authority level data 

Data at local authority level is published in underlying data table 1c for each Thursday in the 2020/21 academic year, and from 9 Sept to 10 Feb in the current academic year. For some Wednesdays, where used for the national commentary these data are also included.

Unlike national level data, no adjustments are made for non-response. Care should be taken when comparing local authorities and when interpreting trends over time. Reasons for this include:

  • Local authority level data is based on responding schools only.  
  • Typically, attendance is higher in some local authorities than others, even prior to the pandemic.  Pupil absence in the 2019 autumn term is published by local authority and shows that absence ranged from 2.9 to 6.5% at local authority level. There are some differences in the calculation of pupil absence and our attendance estimates that affect comparability [6]
  • Response rates vary by local authority and by school phase or type within local authorities. Different schools within a local authority may respond on different days. Figures based on fewer schools are more sensitive to change.  Local authorities with response rates of 50% or below are flagged as such in the underlying data. Data based on one school has been suppressed and data based on 10 or fewer schools are flagged as such in the underlying data. 

Summary of pupil absence by local area 

This commentary focuses on COVID-19 related absence to give the clearest picture of the impact of the pandemic on pupil attendance.

Rates of pupil absence due to confirmed cases and self-isolation may be impacted by levels of testing. This should be taken into consideration when comparing absences between different types of schools and over time.

Chart 6 summarises COVID-19 related absence in each region, from 9 Sept to 10 Feb.

Pupil absence by local area 

  • The highest rate of COVID-19 related pupil absence was 3.1% in South West on 10 Feb. North West and London had the lowest rate of COVID 19 related absence of 1.6% on 10 Feb.
  • Comparing COVID-19 absence in primary and secondary state funded schools, they follow a similar trend between 9 Sept to 16 Dec across regions. 

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[6] Overall absence rates that use school census data 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 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 overall absence rates that use school census data.

 

Charts 7 and 8 show COVID-19 related pupil absence in state-funded primaries and secondaries respectively in each local authority from 9 Sept to 10 Feb.

  • Areas with higher COVID-19 related absence are generally local authorities with higher rates of COVID-19 in the population at that time and vice versa.
  • The ranges for each chart are automatically set and the same shade does not mean the same level of attendance on each chart.
  • Response rates for state-funded primary and state-funded secondary schools should be considered when making comparisons between local authorities.

Workforce absence by local area

Chart 9 summarises workforce absence due to COVID-19 related reasons and absence due to other reasons between 9 Sept and 10 Feb.

The chart combines data for teachers and school leaders, and teaching assistants and support staff in state-funded schools to give an overall workforce figure because their levels of absence and trends over time are similar. Data for the separate groups is in the underlying data.  

  • South West had the highest COVID-19 related workforce absences on 10 Feb, with 3.7% of teachers and school leaders and 3.3% teaching assistants or other staff absent for COVID-19 related reasons. 

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Methodology

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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.

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COVID Attendance Statistics

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