Week 14 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

Open Rates

  • Over 99.9% all state-funded schools were open on 31 Mar 2022, up from 99.9% on 17 Mar 2022.

Pupil absence

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) related pupil absence in all state-funded schools was 2.2% on 31 Mar, down from 2.5% on 17 Mar.
  • Among pupils absent for COVID-19 reasons, the main reasons for absence on 31 Mar were: pupils with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (1.5%), and pupils with a suspected case of COVID-19 (0.2%).

Pupil on site attendance 

  • Attendance in all state-funded schools was 88.6% on 31 Mar, down from 89.7% on 17 Mar. 

Workforce absence

  • We estimate that 8.7% of teachers and school leaders were absent for any reason from open schools on 31 Mar, down from 9.1% on 17 Mar.
  • We estimate that 8.2% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent for any reason from open schools on 31 Mar, down from 8.5% on 17 Mar.

Levels of workforce absence in education settings

Teachers and school leaders

  • 20% of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teachers and school leaders absent for any reason on 31 Mar, down from 23% on 17 Mar. 
  • 40% of all state-funded schools had up to 5% of their teachers and school leaders absent for any reason on 31 Mar, up from 37% on 17 Mar.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 15% of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason on 31 Mar, down from 17% on 17 Mar.
  • 37% of all state-funded schools had up to 5% of their teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason on 31 Mar, up from 35% on 17 Mar.

 

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 fully vaccinated adults. From 1 April, testing will no longer be expected in nearly all education, childcare, and children’s social care settings. 

People at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and eligible for treatments, will continue to get free tests to use if they develop symptoms, along with NHS and adult social care staff and those in other high-risk settings.  In the event of an outbreak, a local Health Protection Team (HPT) might advise a residential SEND setting to re-introduce some time-limited asymptomatic testing for targeted groups of staff and pupils/ students (secondary age or above).  

From 1 April, adults with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19, and a high temperature or who feel unwell, are advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature - if they had one. 

Children and young people who are under 18 years old with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, who are otherwise well, should continue to attend their setting. If they are unwell and have a high temperature then they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to their setting when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.  

Data coverage

From 7 March, the education setting survey has changed from daily to weekly. Data will be collected every Thursday and published on a fortnightly basis.

This data release includes data from the education settings survey from 23 March 2020 to 4 March 2022 and weekly on Thursdays from 7 March 2022 to 31 March 2022 (excluding school holidays).

Open status in education settings

Based on the 9,400 (43%) state-funded schools that responded to the Education settings survey on 31 Mar:

  • Over 99.9% of state-funded schools were open on 31 Mar.
  • For the state-funded school types, primary, secondary, special, alternative provision, the educational setting open rate was over 99.9% on 31 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 100 (63%) further education colleges and 100 (47%) 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 30 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 2.2% (179,000) of all pupils on roll in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on 31 Mar, down from 2.5% (202,000) on 17 Mar.

This includes:

  • 16,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus, 0.2% of pupils on roll in open schools, same on 17 Mar when there were 16,000 suspected cases.
  • 120,000 pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus, 1.5% of pupils on roll in open schools, down from 2.0% on 17 Mar when there were 159,000 confirmed cases.
  • 34,000 pupils absent from open settings due to attendance restrictions being in place to manage an outbreak or exceptional circumstances related to COVID, 0.4% of pupils on roll in open schools, up from 0.2% on 17 Mar when there were 17,000 attendance restrictions cases.
  • 7,000 pupils absent from open settings due to isolation for other reasons, 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, same on 17 Mar when there were 6,000 cases in isolation for other reasons.

Pupil attendance in state-funded schools

  • On site attendance in state-funded schools was 88.6% on 31 Mar, down from 89.7% on 17 Mar.
  • 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 83% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 31 Mar, down from 85% on 17 Mar.
  • Approximately 82% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in all state-funded schools were in attendance on 31 Mar, down from 83% on 17 Mar. 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 86% of all pupils eligible for FSM on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 31 Mar, down from 88% on 17 Mar.

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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 91.8% on 31 Mar, down from 92.0% on 17 Mar.
  • Attendance in state-funded secondary schools was 85.3% on 31 Mar, down from 87.4% on 17 Mar.
  • Attendance in state-funded special schools was 81.1% on 31 Mar, down from 83.0% on 17 Mar. Attendance at special schools is typically lower than at mainstream settings.
  • Attendance in state-funded alternative provision was 51.6% on 31 Mar, down from 55.3% on 17 Mar.

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), 90% of pupils with a social worker, and 90% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 31 Mar. Attendance rates are lower than on 17 Mar when 90% for pupils with an EHCP, 91% of pupils with a social worker, and 91% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance. 
  • In secondary schools, approximately 79% of pupils with an EHCP, 74% of pupils with a social worker, and 81% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 31 Mar. Attendance rates are lower than on 17 Mar when 81% 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 406,000 students were attending colleges on site on 30 Mar, down from 427,000 16 Mar. 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

From 7 March, collection on absence reasons for workforce staff has been paused.

Teachers and school leaders 

We estimate that 8.7% (46,000) of teachers and school leaders were absent for any reason from open schools on 31 Mar, down from 9.1% (48,000) on 17 Mar.

Teaching assistants and other staff

We estimate that 8.2% (59,000) of teaching assistants and other staff were absent for any reason from open schools on 31 Mar, down from 8.5% (60,000) on 17 Mar.

Workforce absence by type of education setting

Workforce absence by state-funded school type

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 8.3% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in state-funded primary schools on 31 Mar, down from 9.2% on 17 Mar.
  • 8.9% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in state-funded secondary schools on 31 Mar, up from 8.8% on 17 Mar.
  • 11.0% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in state-funded special schools on 31 Mar, down from 11.3% on 17 Mar.
  • 12.4% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in state-funded alternative provision on 31 Mar, up from 10.9% on 17 Mar.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 8.0% of teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason in state-funded primary schools on 31 Mar, down from 8.8% on 17 Mar.
  • 7.2% of teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason in state-funded secondary schools on 31 Mar, up from 6.6% on 17 Mar.
  • 11.9% of teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason in state-funded special schools on 31 Mar, up from 11.7% on 17 Mar.
  • 11.7% of teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason in state-funded alternative provision on 31 Mar, up from 10.6% on 17 Mar.

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

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 6.0% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in further education colleges on 30 Mar, up from 5.0% on 16 Mar.
  • 11.8% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in special post-16 institutions on 30 Mar, down from 13.4% on 16 Mar.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 5.9% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent in further education colleges on 30 Mar, up from 4.8% on 16 Mar.
  • 11.1% of teaching assistants and other staff absent in special post-16 institutions on 30 Mar, up from 9.8% on 16 Mar.

Levels of workforce absence in education settings

Teachers and school leaders

20% (4,400) of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teachers and school leaders absent for any reason on 31 Mar. By state-funded school phase:

  • 21% (3,500) in state-funded primary schools
  • 14% (500) in state-funded secondary schools
  • 29% (300) in state-funded special schools 
  • 29% (100) in state-funded alternative provision 

40% (8,700) of all state-funded schools had up to 5% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason on 31 Mar. By state-funded school phase:

  • 45% (7,600) in state-funded primary schools
  • 23% (800) in state-funded secondary schools
  • 25% (300) in state-funded special schools 
  • 28% (100) in state-funded alternative provision 

Teaching assistants and other staff

15% (3,300) of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason on 31 Mar. By state-funded school phase:

  • 15% (2,600) in state-funded primary schools
  • 9% (300) in state-funded secondary schools
  • 26% (300) in state-funded special schools 
  • 26% (100) in state-funded alternative provision 

37% (7,900) of all state-funded schools had up to 5% of teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason on 31 Mar. By state-funded school phase:

  • 38% (6,400) in state-funded primary schools
  • 35% (1,200) in state-funded secondary schools
  • 15% (200) in state-funded special schools 
  • 39% (100) in state-funded alternative provision 

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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.

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