Week 18 2023

Pupil attendance in schools

View latest data: Week 37 2023
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Published

Introduction

These figures are derived from regular data automatically submitted to the Department for Education (DfE) by participating schools. The data is submitted on a daily basis and includes the attendance codes for each pupil on their registers during the morning and afternoon sessions.

This release covers the 2022/23 academic year to date up to 5 May. The figures relate to the attendance of 5 to 15 year old (i.e. compulsory school age) pupils in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in England.

The figures are published as experimental official statistics to give an indicative figure for the absence rate during the 2022/23 academic year. A national level figure was published on 8 September 2022 and from 29 September 2022 the pupil attendance dashboard has been updated fortnightly, providing aggregate metrics on overall absence and reasons for absence estimated at national, regional and local authority level only. These are intended to continue the series that was previously sourced from the daily Educational Settings Survey (EdSet). Due to the timeliness of the data and that they are based on a subset of schools, the figures are estimates that we expect to change as registers are adjusted. They should be viewed as an early indicator for the more detailed but less regular National Statistics on pupil absence (which will include school level breakdowns). The termly National Statistics will also be published on the page linked above in May 2023 (Autumn term 2022/23), October 2023 (Autumn and Summer term 2022/23) and March 2024 (full year 2022/23). 

For further information see the ‘Methodology’ section.

If you are a school that has not yet signed up to share your data, please visit Share your daily school attendance data for more information. This will also give you, your local authority and your multi-academy trust (if applicable) access to daily attendance reports to help identify pupils needing attendance support earlier.


Headline facts and figures - 2023

This release covers the academic year to date up to 5 May 2023. 

There were national teacher strikes on 1 February, 15 March and 16 March and regional teacher strikes on 28 February, 1 March and 2 March. In the fortnight added in this publication, there were national teacher strikes on 27 April and 2 May, in addition to a bank holiday on 1 May. Therefore, no figures for these days have been provided in the dashboard and underlying data. 

  • 50% of pupils attended school on 27 April (67% for state-funded primary and 27% for state-funded secondary)
  • 47% of pupils attended school on 2 May (64% for state-funded primary and 25% for state-funded secondary)

For further information on attendance on these dates please refer to the section titled “National and regional teacher strikes”.

The attendance rate was 92.8% across all schools in the week commencing 1 May 2023. The absence rate was, therefore, 7.2% across all schools.

By school type, the absence rates across the week commencing 1 May 2023 were:

  • 5.2% in state-funded primary schools (3.4% authorised and 1.8% unauthorised)
  • 9.6% in state-funded secondary schools (5.1% authorised and 4.5% unauthorised)
  • 12.9% in state-funded special schools (9.0% authorised and 3.9% unauthorised)

The data shows that the attendance rate across the academic year to date was 92.4%. The absence rate was, therefore, 7.6% across all schools.

By school type, the absence rates across the year to date were:

  • 6.1% in state-funded primary schools (4.5% authorised and 1.5% unauthorised)
  • 9.3% in state-funded secondary schools (5.8% authorised and 3.5% unauthorised)
  • 13.5% in state-funded special schools (10.2% authorised and 3.3% unauthorised)

Across the year to date, 22.3% of pupil enrolments missed 10% or more of their possible sessions and are therefore identified as persistently absent. By school type, the persistent absence rate across the year to date was:

  • 18.0% in state-funded primary schools
  • 27.3% in state-funded secondary schools
  • 39.3% in state-funded special schools

Both overall absence and persistent absence rates have been driven by illness during the 2022/23 academic year. UK Health Security Authority data shows that a number of illnesses all peaked at around the same time in December. Typically, illnesses are more spread across the season. Although it decreased following the Autumn term, illness absence (which includes positive COVID cases) remained higher than pre-pandemic levels, at 3.7% during Spring term compared with around 2.5% pre-pandemic.

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Latest data - week commencing 1 May 2023

Access the Pupil attendance and absence in schools in England: data dashboard here

The latest data relates to the week commencing 1 May 2023 and is available in the pupil attendance dashboard. Data is collected on a daily basis and data for the interim weeks between publications is included in year-to-date figures and is available on a daily and weekly basis in the underlying data available on this page (see “Explore data and files”). The dashboard displays attendance and absence headline figures, and reasons for absence at national, regional and local authority geographic levels. Data is available across primary, secondary and special schools and can be broken down by individual school type.

In the most recent week, Monday was a bank holiday and Tuesday was a national teacher strike. The data shows that the attendance rate across the week for all schools was 92.8%, giving an overall absence rate of 7.2%. The attendance rate varied across the week with a peak of 93.8% on Wednesday, before a decline to 92.6% on Friday. The decrease in attendance on a Friday is in line with weekly patterns in historical attendance data.

Overall absence has increased the most in secondary schools (from 6.5% at the start of the Autumn term to 9.6% in the most recent week) followed by special schools (from 10.8% to 12.9%). Absence in primary schools has risen 4.4% to 5.2%.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 81% of schools have opted-in to submitting data (though note that this has varied across the year), therefore national figures are estimates. Across school types this was: 83% of state-funded primary schools, 76% of state-funded secondary schools and 71% of state-funded special schools.
  • Estimates for non-response - In recognition that response rates are not equal across school types and, therefore, not representative of the total school population, the total rates for all schools has been weighted based on the Spring 2022 school census.
  • Reporting lag - Schools update their registers continually and attendance codes change, resulting in absence rates for a particular day to decrease over time. Analysis of data from the Summer 2022 term suggests that this could be a decrease in the absence rate of around 1 percentage point before settling down. Historical figures will be recalculated in each publication.
  • Data for the latest release reflects school registers as at 11 May 2023, with 6 days retrospection included. Typically this release includes 10-11 days retrospection and therefore data may be subject to greater retrospective changes in future releases.

If you are a school that has not yet signed up to share your data, please visit Share your daily school attendance data for more information. This will also give you, your local authority and your multi-academy trust (if applicable) access to daily attendance reports to help identify pupils needing attendance support earlier.

Spring term 2022/23

Access the Pupil attendance and absence in schools in England: data dashboard here

Data for the Spring term relates to the period from 3 January 2023 to 31 March 2023.

Since the start of the Spring term, both overall and illness absence rates have remained below the peak seen at the end of the Autumn term. Although it decreased, illness absence (which includes positive COVID cases) remained higher than pre-pandemic levels, at 3.7% during Spring term compared with around 2.5% pre-pandemic. The overall absence rate has been relatively stable across the Spring term, from 6.2% in the second week of term to 8.4% in the week prior to the Easter holidays. The decrease in attendance prior to a period of holiday is in line with weekly patterns in historical attendance data.

The unauthorised other absence rate has increased slightly, from 1.5% in the Autumn term to 1.8% in the Spring term, and was 0.9% before the pandemic.

Following the decrease in absence rates from Autumn to Spring term, the persistent absence rate fell from 25.1% to 21.2%.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 81% of schools have opted-in to submitting data (though note that this has varied across the year), therefore national figures are estimates. Across school types this was: 83% of state-funded primary schools, 76% of state-funded secondary schools and 71% of state-funded special schools.
  • Estimates for non-response - In recognition that response rates are not equal across school types and, therefore, not representative of the total school population, the total rates for all schools has been weighted based on the Spring 2022 school census.
  • Reporting lag - Schools update their registers continually and attendance codes change, resulting in absence rates for a particular day to decrease over time. Analysis of data from the Summer 2022 term suggests that this could be a decrease in the absence rate of around 1 percentage point before settling down. Historical figures will be recalculated in each publication.

If you are a school that has not yet signed up to share your data, please visit Share your daily school attendance data for more information. This will also give you, your local authority and your multi-academy trust (if applicable) access to daily attendance reports to help identify pupils needing attendance support earlier.

Academic year to date 2022/23

Access the Pupil attendance and absence in schools in England: data dashboard here

Data for the year to date relates to the period from 12 September 2022 to 5 May 2023. Data is available in the pupil attendance dashboard and the underlying data available on this page (see “Explore data and files”). The dashboard displays attendance and absence headline figures, and reasons for absence at national, regional and local authority geographic levels. Data is available across primary, secondary and special schools and can be broken down by individual school type.

Overall absence during the 2022/23 academic year to date was 7.6%. During the Autumn term the overall absence rate was 7.9% and 7.3% during the Spring term,

Absence peaked at 14.3%, in the final full week of the Autumn term. This was up from the start of the academic year when it was 5.4% and the previous peak in the week prior to the Autumn half term when it was 7.4%. Absence rates fell at the start of the Spring term and were relatively stable between 6.2% and 8.4% throughout the term. Since the start of the Summer term, absence has been similar to that in the Spring term and was 7.2% in the most recent week.

The increase in illness absence at the end of the Autumn term was in line with increases in rates of seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses, as shown in UK Health Security Authority data.

Although it decreased following the Autumn term, illness absence (which includes positive COVID cases) remained higher than pre-pandemic levels, at 3.7% during Spring term compared with around 2.5% pre-pandemic.

Persistent absence (pupils who miss 10% or more of their possible sessions) has also been impacted by high illness rates.

The persistent absence rate for the year to date is currently 22.3%. This represents a fall from 25.1% in Autumn term, driven by a decrease in absence in the Spring term (where persistent absence was 21.2%).

UK Health Security Authority data shows that a number of illnesses all peaked at around the same time in December. Typically, illnesses are more spread across the season. Between the end of November and the end of December 2022, persistent absence increased from 21.7% to 25.1%. In Autumn 2022, 13.4% of pupils were persistently absent solely due to illness, a large increase on 5% in Autumn 2019. Although it decreased following the Autumn term, illness absence rates during Spring term were still higher than pre-pandemic levels and 9.5% of pupils were persistently absent solely due to illness during Spring 2023.

Whilst persistent absence in Autumn 2022 was higher than the previous year, driven by illness, there was a sharp fall in pupils persistently not attending. This reflects that in Autumn 2020 and Autumn 2021, pupils were being recorded as not attending due to reasons related to coronavirus (e.g. where isolating). Including these sessions shows that there has been a drop in pupils not attending 10% or more sessions overall, from 44.6% in 2020, 32.2% in 2021 to 25.1% in 2022.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 81% of schools have opted-in to submitting data (though note that this has varied across the year), therefore national figures are estimates. Across school types this was: 83% of state-funded primary schools, 76% of state-funded secondary schools and 71% of state-funded special schools.
  • Estimates for non-response - In recognition that response rates are not equal across school types and, therefore, not representative of the total school population, the total rates for all schools has been weighted based on the Spring 2022 school census.
  • Reporting lag - Schools update their registers continually and attendance codes change, resulting in absence rates for a particular day to decrease over time. Analysis of data from the Summer 2022 term suggests that this could be a decrease in the absence rate of around 1 percentage point before settling down. Historical figures will be recalculated in each publication.

If you are a school that has not yet signed up to share your data, please visit Share your daily school attendance data for more information. This will also give you, your local authority and your multi-academy trust (if applicable) access to daily attendance reports to help identify pupils needing attendance support earlier.

National and regional teacher strikes

On 1 February, there was a national teacher strike. Therefore, no figures for that day have been provided in the dashboard and underlying data. 43% of pupils attended school on 1 February. This was 58% for state-funded primary and 24% for state-funded secondary schools.

Between 28 February and 2 March there were regional teacher strikes. Therefore, no figures for these days have been provided in the dashboard and underlying data for regions affected or at a national level, however figures are still available for regions not expected to be affected. Attendance rates for each of the days affected by regional strikes were:

  • 46% on 28 February (62% for state-funded primary and 27% for state-funded secondary) where North East, North West and Yorkshire and The Humber regions were affected
  • 57% on 1 March (75% for state-funded primary and 31% for state-funded secondary) where East Midlands, West Midlands and East of England regions were affected
  • 43% on 2 March (57% for state-funded primary and 23% for state-funded secondary) where London, South East and South West regions were affected

On 15 March, 16 March, 27 April and 2 May there were further national teacher strikes. Therefore, no figures for those days have been provided in the dashboard and underlying data.

  • 48% of pupils attended school on 15 March (63% for state-funded primary and 26% for state-funded secondary)
  • 48% of pupils attended school on 16 March (64% for state-funded primary and 25% for state-funded secondary)
  • 50% of pupils attended school on 27 April (67% for state-funded primary and 27% for state-funded secondary)
  • 47% of pupils attended school on 2 May (64% for state-funded primary and 25% for state-funded secondary)

For data on how many schools were open on the day, see the School closures during the 2023 teacher strike transparency data

Help and support

Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics.

Experimental statistics

These statistics are experimental statistics undergoing evaluation. They have been developed under the guidance of the Head of Profession for Statistics and published to involve users and stakeholders at an early stage in assessing their suitability and quality.

Experimental official statistics have been produced as far as possible in line with the Code of Practice for 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.

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Pupil attendance in schools statistics and data:

School Census Statistics Team

Email
schools.statistics@education.gov.uk

Telephone: School Census Statistics Team
0370 000 2288

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