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 16 Dec 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 
- 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 1 summarises COVID-19 related absence in each region, from 9 Sept to 16 Dec.
Pupil absence by local area
- COVID-19 related absence in state funded schools, increased across all English regions between 9 Sept to 16 Dec.
- The highest rate of COVID-19 related absence was 5.1% in London on 16 Dec, an increase from 2.4% on 9 Dec. North East and Yorkshire and The Humber had the lowest rate of COVID 19 related absence of 2.6% on 16 Dec, up from 2.0% for North East and 2.4% for Yorkshire and The Humber on 9 Dec.
- Comparing COVID-19 absence in primary and secondary state funded schools, they follow a similar trend between 9 Sept to 16 Dec across regions.
 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 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 overall absence rates that use school census data.
Charts 2 and 3 show COVID-19 related pupil absence in state-funded primaries and secondaries respectively in each local authority from 9 Sept to 16 Dec.
- 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.
Chart 4 summarises workforce absence due to COVID-19 related reasons and absence due to other reasons between 9 Sept and 16 Dec.
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.
Workforce absence by local area
- Across all regions, the proportion of the state funded school workforce absent due to COVID-19 related reasons increased between 9 Dec and 16 Dec.
- London had the highest COVID-19 related workforce absences on 16 Dec, with 5.3% of teachers and schools leaders and 3.8% teaching assistants or other staff absent for COVID-19 related reasons. This compares with 2.4% of teachers and schools leaders and 2.1% teaching assistants or other staff absent for COVID-19 related reasons on 9 Dec.