The absence rate is the total number of sessions missed due to absence for all pupils as a percentage of their total number of possible sessions. One session is equal to half a day.
For 2020/21, not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19) is not counted as an absence but is included as a possible session in the calculation of absence rates. This includes pupils who were not eligible to attend school during the national lockdown or those required to self-isolate. As these pupils were not expected to attend these sessions, they are recorded differently and not counted within the standard absence rates within this publication.
3.3% of sessions in the spring term were missed due to absence. This represents an additional 12.5 million days on top of the 219 million days where pupils were not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19). This is lower than historic termly absence rates.
Those vulnerable children and young people who were eligible to attend during the lockdown period will include those who have an education, health and care (EHC) plan. Overall absence in special schools was substantially higher at 25.5%, compared to around 10% previously. However, this is largely driven by an increase in authorised other absence accounting for 21.6% of possible sessions for pupils in special schools.
This reflects the fact that during the national lockdown vulnerable pupils were prioritised to continue attending school but, where a parent wanted their child to be absent, schools were advised to grant a leave of absence.
The decrease in overall absence is reflected in the reasons for absence. Historically, the main driver for absence is illness. This has decreased to 0.8% in Spring term 2021 from 2.5% in Autumn 2020.
Other types of absence, including holiday absence and medical appointments, remain low, likely as a result of the pandemic, except for authorised other reasons which has risen to 1.8% and makes up the majority of absence. Again, this reflects that vulnerable children were prioritised to continue attending school but where parents did not want their child to attend, schools were expected to authorise the absence.