Autumn and Spring Term 2020/21

Pupil absence in schools in England: autumn and spring terms

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  1. Further correction to underlying data file '06 - Absence rates by pupil characteristic - Autumn and Spring combined'. This affected overall, authorised and unauthorised absence percentages at regional level

  2. Correction to persistent absence rate in underlying data file '06 - Absence rates by pupil characteristic - Autumn and Spring combined'. This affected the persistent absence percentage for any regional level data. National and local authority level figures were not affected.

This release looks at pupil absence during the Spring 2021 term. For the majority of this term, only children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils could attend school during the period of lockdown from 4 January 2021. Restrictions were lifted on attendance from 8 March 2021 for all other pupils, four school weeks prior to the end of term. 

This is the second set of absence data collected via the school census covering the pandemic, following the publication of data on the Autumn term available here - Pupil absence in schools in England: autumn term, Autumn Term 2020/21 – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK (explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk)

School level data has been collected via the Department's education settings survey on pupil attendance throughout the pandemic. However, this school census based release is derived from pupil level data from which further analysis, such as persistent absence, can be produced. The categories of absence in this release match those used on school registers and differ to those used in the education settings survey. 

Data is given on absence as well as where a pupil could not attend school due to COVID-19 (not attending in circumstances relating to coronavirus). As above, this includes pupils who were ineligible to attend school during the lockdown period because attendance was restricted. This category was also used to record where pupils did not attend because they: were self-isolating because of COVID-19, were advised to shield, were quarantining after returning from abroad, or were in class bubbles advised to isolate. Schools were advised to record pupils with a confirmed case of COVID-19 as absent due to illness. 

Due to the disruption faced during the Spring term, caution should be taken when comparing data to previous years. Caution should also be taken when comparing to the education settings survey data.


Headline facts and figures - 2020/21

  • 57.5% of sessions in the Spring term 2021 were recorded as not attending due to circumstance related to coronavirus. This includes the period of lockdown from 4 January 2021 where only children of critical workers and vulnerable children could attend school.
  • A further 3.3% sessions were missed due to absence

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