Week 24 2022

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

Published

Introduction

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 2021/22 statistics were published on 26 May 2022 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 9 June. Local authority data is included and the reference date is Thursday 26 May.

From 21 April 2022, attendance figures for state-funded secondary schools, state-funded special schools and state-funded alternative provision have been adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils who are not in attendance because they are off-site for study leave, visits to education providers or other arranged activities out of school.

Attendance numbers are published for vulnerable children and pupils eligible for FSM but attendance as a proportion of total is omitted, except for state-funded primary schools who are unaffected by the adjustment. Data for state-funded primary schools will be published as before.

Open Rates

  • Over 99.9% all state-funded schools were open on 9 Jun 2022, same on 26 May. 

Pupil on site attendance 

  • Attendance in all state-funded schools was adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils who are not in attendance because they are off-site for approved purposes was 91.5% on 9 Jun, up from 89.6% on 26 May.

Workforce absence

  • We estimate that 5.5% of teachers and school leaders were absent for any reason from open schools on 9 Jun, down from 5.7% on 26 May.
  • We estimate that 5.0% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent for any reason from open schools on 9 Jun, down from 5.3% on 26 May.

Regional workforce absence

  • The highest rate of workforce absence was in the North West with 6.1% of teachers and school leaders and 5.9% teaching assistants or other staff absent for any reason on 26 May. This compares with 6.7% of teachers and school leaders and 5.7% teaching assistants or other staff absent for any reason on 12 May.

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

You can view featured tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from the open data using our table tool


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. Since 1 April, testing is no longer expected in nearly all education, childcare, and children’s social care settings. 

Since 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 9 June 2022 (excluding school holidays).

Open status in education settings

Based on the 6,100 (28%) state-funded schools that responded to the Education settings survey on 9 Jun:

  • Over 99.9% of state-funded schools were open on 9 Jun.
  • For the state-funded school types, primary, secondary, special the educational setting open rate was at least 99.7%, alternative provision the open rate was 99.0% on 9 Jun. 

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 (35%) further education colleges and less than 100 (30%) 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 8 Jun.

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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

From 7 April, data collection on COVID absence reasons for pupils has been paused.

Pupil attendance in state-funded schools

  • On site attendance in all state-funded schools was adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils who are not in attendance because they are off-site for approved purposes was 91.5% on 9 Jun, up from 89.6% on 26 May.
  • 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 numbers are published for vulnerable children and pupils eligible for FSM but attendance as a proportion of total is omitted, except for state-funded primary schools who are unaffected by the adjustment.

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 92% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded primary schools were in attendance on 9 Jun, up from 91% on 26 May.
  • Approximately 92% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in all state-funded primary schools were in attendance on 9 Jun, up from 91% on 26 May. 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 1.74 million (20.8% of all pupils) in January 2021 to 1.90 million (22.5% of all pupils) in January 2022.

Attendance of pupils eligible for FSM is typically lower than for other pupils [5].

  • Approximately 93% of all pupils eligible for FSM on roll in state-funded primary schools were in attendance on 9 Jun, up from 92% 26 May.

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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

  • Attendance in state-funded primary schools was 94.0% on 9 Jun, up from 92.2% on 26 May.
  • Attendance adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils who are not in attendance because they are off-site for approved purposes in state-funded secondary schools was 88.5% on 9 Jun, up from 86.6% on 26 May.
  • Attendance adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils who are not in attendance because they are off-site for approved purposes in state-funded special schools was 86.3% on 9 Jun, up from 85.5% on 26 May. Attendance at special schools is typically lower than at mainstream settings.
  • Attendance adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils who are not in attendance because they are off-site for approved purposes in state-funded alternative provision was 54.4% on 9 Jun, up from 52.7% on 26 May.

Attendance of vulnerable children and pupils eligible for free school meals

  • In state-funded primary schools, approximately 92% of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP), 92% of pupils with a social worker, and 93% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 9 Jun. Attendance rates are higher than on 26 May 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. 
  • Equivalent figures for state-funded secondary schools are affected by some schools offering different provision for year 11-13 students and are therefore not summarised here.

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 300,000 students were attending colleges on site on 8 Jun. 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 5.5% (29,000) of teachers and school leaders were absent for any reason from open schools on 9 Jun, down from 5.7% (29,000) on 26 May.

Teaching assistants and other staff

We estimate that 5.0% (36,000) of teaching assistants and other staff were absent for any reason from open schools on 9 Jun, down from 5.3% (37,000) on 26 May.

Workforce absence by type of education setting

Workforce absence by state-funded school type

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 5.4% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in state-funded primary schools on 9 Jun, down from 5.6% on 26 May.
  • 5.6% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in state-funded secondary schools on 9 Jun, same on 26 May.
  • 6.9% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in state-funded special schools on 9 Jun, up from 6.7% on 26 May.
  • 6.5% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in state-funded alternative provision on 9 Jun, down from 6.9% on 26 May.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 4.9% of teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason in state-funded primary schools on 9 Jun, down from 5.2% on 26 May.
  • 4.3% of teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason in state-funded secondary schools on 9 Jun, same on 26 May.
  • 7.4% of teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason in state-funded special schools on 9 Jun, down from 8.2% on 26 May.
  • 5.6% of teaching assistants and other staff absent for any reason in state-funded alternative provision on 9 Jun, down from 7.2% on 26 May.

Workforce absence in further education and special post-16 settings

Teachers and school leaders 

  • 3.5% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in further education colleges on 8 Jun, same on 25 May.
  • 5.5% of teachers and school leaders absent for any reason in special post-16 institutions on 8 Jun, down from 6.5% on 25 May.

Teaching assistants and other staff

  • 4.2% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent in further education colleges on 8 Jun, up from 3.9% on 25 May.
  • 7.6% of teaching assistants and other staff absent in special post-16 institutions on 8 Jun, down from 8.1% on 25 May.

Absence by local authority

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 26 May 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. 

Pupil absence by local area 

From 7 April, collection on COVID absence reasons for pupils has been paused.

Workforce absence by local area

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

Chart 2 summarises workforce absence for any reason between 9 Sept and 26 May.

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.  

  • The highest rate of workforce absence was in the North West with 6.1% of teachers and schools leaders and 5.9% teaching assistants or other staff absent for any reason on 26 May. This compares with 6.7% of teachers and schools leaders and 5.7% teaching assistants or other staff absent for any reason on 12 May.

 

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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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If you have a specific enquiry about Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic statistics and data:

COVID Attendance Statistics

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