Week 2 2022

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

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  1. The time period for week 1 January 2022 dates in table 1A has been updated.

  2. Title of Chart/Table in the Attendance in state-funded schools section has been changed to 'Attendance in all state funded schools September 2020 - January 2022'.

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 term statistics were published on 27 May 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

In this summary, national data refers to Thursday 6 January. Local authority data is included and the reference date is Thursday 16 December 2021.

LAs started breaking up for the Christmas holidays from Friday 17 December. National data for 17 December onward are available in table 1a for download. Data for these dates are not comparable to dates when schools are in normal term time. 

Phased return

From Tuesday 4th January, schools began reopening to students after the Christmas holidays. Secondary schools were asked to complete asymptomatic testing for students with Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs). While testing was being completed from 4th January, secondary schools were classed as being on a phased return. A large number of secondary schools misinterpreted the EdSet form and selected their open status as "closed due to coronavirus reasons" during this period. Normally this open status is only selected if a school has had to close due to an outbreak of COVID-19. Due to this misinterpretation, any secondary school that selected "closed due to coronavirus reasons" from 4 January has not been included. 

Open Rates

  • Over 99.9% all state-funded schools were open on 6 Jan 2022, up from 99.7% on 16 Dec 2021.

Pupil absence

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) related pupil absence in all state-funded schools was 3.9% on 6 Jan, up from 3.7% on 16 Dec.
  • Among pupils absent for COVID-19 reasons, the main reasons for absence on 6 Jan were: pupils with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (2.0%), and pupils with a suspected case of COVID-19 (1.3%).

Pupil on site attendance 

  • Attendance in all state-funded schools was 88.6% on 6 Jan, up from 85.9% on 16 Dec.  

Workforce absence

  • We estimate that 8.6% of teachers and school leaders were absent from open schools were absent on 6 Jan, up from 8.0% (42,000) on 16 Dec.
  • We estimate that 8.9% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent from open schools were absent on 6 Jan, up from 7.3% (52,000) on 16 Dec.

Regional absence

  • COVID-19 related absence in state funded schools for both pupils and the staff workforce, increased across all English regions between 9 Dec and 16 Dec.
  • The highest rate of COVID-19 related pupil 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.
  • 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.

Explore data and files

All data used in this release is available as open data for download


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Browse and download individual open data files from this release in our data catalogue


Guidance

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Background

From Tuesday 14 December 2021, all children and young people aged between 5 and 18 years and 6 months identified as a contact by Test and Trace of someone with Covid-19 should take a lateral flow test every day for 7 days to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Daily rapid testing applies to all contacts who are: 

  • fully vaccinated adults – people who have had 2 doses of the vaccine
  • all children and young people aged 5 to 18 years and 6 months, regardless of their vaccination status 
  • people who can prove they are unable to be vaccinated for clinical reasons 
  • people taking part, or have taken part, in an approved clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine 
  • Children under 5 years are exempt from self-isolation and do not need to take part in daily rapid lateral flow testing. 

Further information is available in NHS Test and Trace: what to do if you are contacted and in the stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection 

Staff and secondary school pupils should continue to test twice weekly at home, with lateral flow device (LFD) test kits, 3 to 4 days apart. Testing remains voluntary but is strongly encouraged. Reporting all tests results (positive, negative and void) to both the school and NHS (through Report a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test result - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) is also strongly encouraged.

There is no need for primary age pupils (those in year 6 and below) to regularly test unless contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact and therefore follow Daily Rapid testing (seven lateral flow tests over seven days).

Staff and pupils with a positive Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test result  should self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Pupils not receiving face-to-face education because they are complying with government guidance or legislation around coronavirus (COVID-19) should receive remote education.

Data coverage

This data release includes data from the education settings survey from 23 March 2020 to 6 January 2022 (excluding school holidays) and early years settings from 16 April 2020 to 9 December 2021.

Open status in education settings

Based on the 13,500 (64%) state-funded schools that responded to the Education settings survey on 6 Jan:

  • Over 99.9% of state-funded schools were open on 6 Jan.
  • For the state-funded school types, primary, secondary, special, alternative provision, the educational setting open rate was over 99.9% on 6 Jan.

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 (85%) further education colleges and 100 (50%) 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 5 Jan.

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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 3.9% (315,000) [2] of all pupils on roll in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on 6 Jan, up from 3.7% (301,000) on 16 Dec.

This includes:

  • 102,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus, 1.3% of pupils on roll in open schools, same on 16 Dec when there were 107,000 suspected cases
  • 159,000 pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus, 2.0% of pupils on roll in open schools, up from 1.4% on 16 Dec when there were 111,000 confirmed cases
  • 7,000 pupils absent from open settings due to attendance restrictions being in place to manage an outbreak or exceptional circumstances related to COVID, 0.1% of pupils on roll in open schools, down from 0.4% on 16 Dec when there were 36,000 attendance restrictions cases.
  • 25,000 pupils absent from open settings due to isolation for other reasons, 0.3% of pupils on roll in open schools, same on 16 Dec when there were 27,000 cases in isolation for other reasons.
  • 21,000 pupils were required to remain at home or isolate in line with government guidance, 0.3% of pupils on roll in open schools, up from 0.1% on 16 Dec when there were 8,000 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 88.6% on 6 Jan, up from 85.9% on 16 Dec.
  • 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 [3].

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[2] The number of students absent for COVID-19 related reasons does not include students who are absent for a phased return while asymptomatic testing was taking place. This is to allow comparisons to be made between previous weeks of data for this measure. There were 340,000 secondary school students absent on 6 January for a phased return.


[3] 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 [4].

  • Approximately 82% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 6 Jan, up from 80% on 16 Dec.
  • Approximately 80% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in all state-funded schools were in attendance on 6 Jan, same on 16 Dec. 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 [5]. 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 [6].

  • Approximately 82% of all pupils eligible for FSM on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 6 Jan, down from 83% on 16 Dec.

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[4] 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.  

[5] 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.

[6] 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 91.0% on 6 Jan, up from 88.6% on 16 Dec.
  • Attendance in state-funded secondary schools was 85.9% on 6 Jan, up from 83.1% on 16 Dec.
  • Attendance in state-funded special schools was 82.0% on 6 Jan, up from 78.2% on 16 Dec. Attendance at special schools is typically lower than at mainstream settings.
  • Attendance in state-funded alternative provision was 53.9% on 6 Jan, up from 51.9% on 16 Dec.

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), 89% of pupils with a social worker, and 89% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 6 Jan. Attendance rates are higher than on 16 Dec when 87% for pupils with an EHCP, 88% of pupils with a social worker, and 88% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance. 
  • In secondary schools, approximately 74% of pupils with an EHCP, 69% of pupils with a social worker, and 73% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 6 Jan. Attendance rates are lower than 16 Dec when 78% for pupils with an EHCP, 72% of pupils with a social worker and 78% 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 371,000 students were attending colleges on site on 5 Jan, down from 372,000 15 Dec. 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

For workforce, COVID-19 related absence includes staff with a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus and those required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, where they are not exempt from self-isolation.

Rates of confirmed cases and isolation among workforce may be impacted by levels of testing. Staff should continue to test twice weekly at home, with lateral flow device (LFD) test kits, 3 to 4 days apart, Testing remains voluntary but is strongly encouraged.

Teachers and school leaders 

We estimate that 8.6% (44,000) of teachers and school leaders were absent from open schools on 6 Jan, up from 8.0% (42,000) on 16 Dec.

We estimate 4.9% of teachers and school leaders were absent from open schools due to COVID-19 related reasons on 6 Jan, up from 3.0% on 16 Dec, this includes: 

  • 0.8% of teachers and school leaders absent from open schools with a suspected case of coronavirus on 
    6 Jan, up from 0.7% on 16 Dec.
  • 4.0% of teachers and school leaders absent from open schools with a confirmed case of coronavirus on 6 Jan, up from 2.2% on 16 Dec.
  • 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 6 Jan, same on 16 Dec.
  • 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 6 Jan, same on 16 Dec.

There were 3.7% of teachers and school leaders absent from open schools for 'other' reasons on 6 Jan, down from 5.0% on 16 Dec.

Teaching assistants and other staff

We estimate that 8.9% (62,000) of teaching assistants and other staff were absent from open schools on 6 Jan, up from 7.3% (52,000) on 16 Dec.

We estimate 5.0% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent from open schools due to COVID-19 related 
reasons on 6 Jan, up from 2.3% on 16 Dec. This includes: 

  • 0.9% of teaching assistants and other staff absent from open schools with a suspected case of 
    coronavirus on 6 Jan, up from 0.5% on 16 Dec.
  • 3.9% of teaching assistants and other staff absent from open schools with a confirmed case of 
    coronavirus on 6 Jan, up from 1.5% on 16 Dec.
  • 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 6 Jan, down from 0.2% on 16 Dec.
  • 0.2% 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 6 Jan, up from 0.1% on 16 Dec.

There were 3.9% of teaching assistants and other staff absent from open schools for 'other' reasons on 6 Jan, down from 5.0% on 16 Dec.

Footnotes

  1. All national level figures are adjusted for non-response. Regional and local authority level figures are based on responding schools only. See accompanying document for full methodology.
  2. Absence rates for teaching assistants and other staff are likely to be less robust as more work part-time. There are likely to be inconsistencies in how schools treat part time staff in their reported data, for example some may update their on roll numbers daily to account for part-time staff ‘expected’ to be on site and others may not.
  3. Workforce absences are not known in closed schools. This means these figures are likely to be under-estimates of the numbers of workforce with confirmed or suspected cases and self-isolating, particularly when the proportion of schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons is higher.
  4. The purpose of this data collection is primarily to understand attendance and teacher availability. This data is reported directly by schools via DfE's daily education settings survey. It is not the primary source of data on infection, incidence and COVID-19 cases overall.
  5. COVID-19 related reasons include a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus and those required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, where they are not exempt from self-isolation under the changes of 16th August 2021.

Workforce absence by type of education setting

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

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 5.0% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded primary schools on 6 Jan, up from 3.2% on 16 Dec.
  • 4.7% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded secondary schools on 6 Jan, up from 2.8% on 16 Dec.
  • 6.2% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded special schools on 6 Jan, up from 3.1% on 16 Dec.
  • 6.9% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded alternative provision on 6 Jan, up from 2.6% on 16 Dec.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 5.0% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded primary schools on 6 Jan, up from 2.5% on 16 Dec.
  • 4.3% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded secondary schools on 6 Jan, up from 1.6% on 16 Dec.
  • 6.6% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded special schools on 6 Jan, up from 3.1% on 16 Dec.
  • 7.3% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in state-funded alternative provision on 6 Jan, up from 3.3% on 16 Dec.

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

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 4.0% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in further education colleges on 5 Jan, up from 1.6% on 15 Dec.
  • 7.4% of teachers and school leaders absent due to COVID-19 reasons in special post-16 institutions on 5 Jan, up from 2.1% on 15 Dec.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 3.4% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent due to COVID-19 reasons in further education colleges on 5 Jan, up from 1.2% on 15 Dec.
  • 6.2% of teaching assistants and other staff absent due to COVID-19 reasons in special post-16 institutions on 5 Jan, up from 2.0% on 15 Dec.

Footnotes

  1. All national level figures are adjusted for non-response. Regional and local authority level figures are based on responding schools only. See accompanying document for full methodology.
  2. Absence rates for teaching assistants and other staff are likely to be less robust as more work part-time. There are likely to be inconsistencies in how schools treat part time staff in their reported data, for example some may update their on roll numbers daily to account for part-time staff ‘expected’ to be on site and others may not.
  3. Workforce absences are not known in closed schools. This means these figures are likely to be under-estimates of the numbers of workforce with confirmed or suspected cases and self-isolating, particularly when the proportion of schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons is higher.
  4. The purpose of this data collection is primarily to understand attendance and teacher availability. This data is reported directly by schools via DfE's daily education settings survey. It is not the primary source of data on infection, incidence and COVID-19 cases overall.
  5. COVID-19 related reasons include a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus and those required to isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, where they are not exempt from self-isolation under the changes of 16th August 2021.
  6. Figures for independent schools are unlikely to be representative. We looked at a sample of non-responding school websites across different phases to assess whether they were open to children of key workers and vulnerable children. This was to enable us to assess whether non-responding schools were as likely to be open as the responding schools. For independent schools, we found evidence that non-responding schools were more likely to be closed than responding schools. Open rates and attendance rates for independent schools are likely to be lower than reported here.
  7. There are only a small number of special post 16 settings therefore the data is expected to be variable and sensitive to changes in one or more settings.

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 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 [7]
  • 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. 

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[7]  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.

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