Week 29 2023

Pupil attendance in schools

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See all updates (2) for Week 29 2023
  1. Amended to include additional and revised data in section titled "Persistent absence of pupils missing at least one day in the first week of term"

  2. Updated link to attendance codes information.

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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 full 2022/23 academic year up to 21 July. 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 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 full 2022/23 academic year up to 21 July 2023.

The attendance rate was 89.3% across all schools in the week commencing 17 July 2023. The absence rate was, therefore, 10.7% across all schools.

By school type, the absence rates across the week commencing 17 July 2023 were:

  • 7.5% in state-funded primary schools (3.6% authorised and 3.9% unauthorised)
  • 14.7% in state-funded secondary schools (6.9% authorised and 7.8% unauthorised)
  • 14.2% in state-funded special schools (9.5% authorised and 4.7% unauthorised)

The data shows that the attendance rate across the academic year 2022/23 was 92.5%. The absence rate was, therefore, 7.5% across all schools.

By school type, the absence rates across the academic year 2022/23 were:

  • 6.0% in state-funded primary schools (4.3% authorised and 1.7% unauthorised)
  • 9.3% in state-funded secondary schools (5.8% authorised and 3.5% unauthorised)
  • 13.1% in state-funded special schools (10.0% authorised and 3.1% unauthorised)

By pupil characteristics, the absence rates across the academic year 2022/23 were:

  • 11.4% for pupils who are eligible for free school meals and 6.2% for pupils who were not eligible for free school meals
  • 13.3% for pupils with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP), 11.1% for pupils with SEN support and 6.9% with no identified SEN
  • 7.4% for boys and 7.6% for girls

Across the academic year 2022/23, 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 academic year 2022/23 was:

  • 17.2% in state-funded primary schools
  • 28.3% in state-funded secondary schools
  • 38.7% in state-funded special schools

There were national teacher strikes on 1 February, 15 March, 16 March, 27 April, 2 May, 5 July and 7 July and regional teacher strikes on 28 February, 1 March and 2 March. For information on attendance on these dates please refer to the section titled “National and regional teacher strikes”.

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Latest data - week commencing 17 July 2023

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

The latest data relates to the week commencing 17 July 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.

The data shows that the attendance rate across the week for all schools was 89.3%, giving an overall absence rate of 10.7%. The attendance rate varied across the week with a peak of 90.7% on Monday, before a decline to 86.1% 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 6.2% at the start of the Autumn term to 14.7% in the most recent week) followed by special schools (from 10.5% to 14.2%). Absence in primary schools has risen 4.3% to 7.5%.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 78% 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: 80% of state-funded primary schools, 71% of state-funded secondary schools and 69% of state-funded special schools. Due to data only being representative of those schools currently participating in daily data sharing, it is possible there may be some differences.
  • 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.

Summer term 2022/23

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

Data for the Summer term relates to the period from 1 April 2023 to 21 July 2023.

Throughout the Summer term, overall and illness absence rates have been relatively stable. Overall absence ranged from 6.4% in the week commencing 8 May, peaking at 8.8% in the week prior to the Summer half term and and 10.7% in the final week of the Summer term. The decrease in attendance prior to a period of holiday is in line with weekly patterns in historical attendance data. There was also a peak in overall absence of 9.9% in the week commencing 26 June where there was high absence due to religious observance around Eid al-Adha.

Illness absence has continued to decrease, from 4.7% across the Autumn term, to 3.7% in the Spring term and 3.0% in the Summer term. While illess absence rates remain below the peak at the end of the Autumn term, illness absence remained higher in the Summer term than pre-pandemic when it was around 2.5%.

Unauthorised other absence has continued to increase, from 1.5% in the Autumn term to 1.7% in the Spring term and 2.0% in the Summer term. Unauthorised other absence continues to be higher than pre-pandemic when it was around 0.9%. Unauthorised holiday absence has also increased in the most recent term, from 0.4% in the Autumn term and 0.3% in the Spring term to 0.8% in the Summer term.

Overall absence rate across the Summer term was 7.8%, similar to the Autumn term rate of 7.7% and higher than the the Spring term when it was 7.1%. The overall absence rate for Summer term has been driven by the combination of decrease in illness absence and increase in unauthorised other and unauthorised holiday absence.

This is reflected in persistent absence rates. Persistent absence rate across the Summer term was 24.3%, slightly below the Autumn term persistent absence rate of 24.9% and higher than the Spring term when it was 21.0%.

Free school meals (FSM) 

The overall absence rate for pupils who are eligible for free school meals was 12.0% in the Summer term. This compares to 6.3% for those pupils who were not eligible for free school meals. This represents an increase from the Spring term where  absence rate was 11.1% for pupils eligible for free school meals and 5.9% for those pupils not eligible for free school meals.

38.1% of pupils who were eligible for free school meals were persistently absent in the Summer term, compared to 19.5% of pupils who were not eligible.  This is an increase from the Spring term where 34.4% of pupils eligible for free school meals and 16.8% of pupils not eligible for free school meals were persistently absent.

Special educational needs (SEN)  

The overall absence rate for pupils with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) was 13.4% in the Summer term. This compares to 11.6% for pupils with SEN support and 7.1% with no identified SEN. Absence rate has increased across all categories compared to Spring term, when it was 13.0% for pupils with an EHCP, 10.7% for pupils with SEN support and 6.4% for pupils with no identified SEN.

35.8% of pupils with an EHCP were persistently absent in the Summer term, compared to 33.6% for pupils with SEN support and 22.6% for pupils with no identified SEN. These figures represent an increase from the Spring term, where the persistent absence rate was 34.5% for pupils with an EHCP, 30.9% for pupils with SEN support and 19.1% for pupils with no identified SEN.

Gender

The overall absence rate during the Summer term was 7.6% for boys and 7.9% for girls, up from the Spring term where it was 6.9% for boys and 7.2% for girls. 

The persistent absence rate during the Summer term was 23.9% for boys and 24.8% for girls, up from the Spring term where it was 20.6% for boys and 21.4% for girls.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 78% 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: 80% of state-funded primary schools, 71% of state-funded secondary schools and 69% of state-funded special schools. Due to data only being representative of those schools currently participating in daily data sharing, it is possible there may be some differences.
  • 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 2022/23

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

Data for the academic year 2022/23 relates to the period from 12 September 2022 to 21 July 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 was 7.5%. Overall absence was 7.7% during the Autumn term, 7.1% during the Spring term and 7.8% during the Summer term.

Absence peaked at 14.1%, in the final full week of the Autumn term. This was up from the start of the academic year when it was 5.3% and the previous peak in the week prior to the Autumn half term when it was 7.3%. Absence rates fell at the start of the Spring term and were relatively stable between 6.0% and 8.2% throughout the term. Across the majority of the Summer term, absence rates were similar to that in the Spring term, ranging from 6.4% in the week commencing 8 May to a peak of 10.7% in the final week of the Summer term. There were additional peaks in absence during the week prior to the Summer half term (8.8%) and the week commencing 26 June (9.9%) when there was high absence due to religious observance around Eid al-Adha. The decrease in attendance prior to a period of holiday is in line with weekly patterns in historical attendance data.

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 and 3.0% during Summer 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 illness absence rates which remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The persistent absence rate for the academic year 2022/23 is 22.3%. This represents a fall from 24.9% in the Autumn term and 24.3% in the Summer term, driven by a decrease in absence in the Spring term (where persistent absence was 21.0%).

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 24.9%. 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 9.6% 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 24.9% in 2022.

Persistent absence of pupils missing at least one day in the first week of term

  • This section has been amended to include further information on absence in the first week of each term and persistent absence. As a result of data quality improvements, we have also revised the existing figures for pupils absent for at least one day in the first week of 2022/23 who went on to be persistently absent across the academic year, and pupils persistently absent across the academic year who were absent for at least one day in the first week of 2022/23. The overall impact is minimal with less than 0.5 percentage point changes to figures. Other sections of this publication have not been revised. 
  • Analysis reflects days missed in the first full week of each term. A proportion of pupils who meet both criteria (missing at least one day in the first week and being persistently absent) will be pupils whose absence was clustered at the start of term, for example if they were ill and this illness occurred over a period including the first week of term.
  • A pupil enrolment is identified as a persistent absentee if they miss 10% or more of their possible sessions in a given period of time, for example pupils identified as persistently absent in the Autumn term missed at least 10% of their possible sessions in the Autumn term. 
  • A multitude of factors can influence pupil attendance. The following data are descriptive statistics and do not indicate a causal relationship, i.e. they do not show that missing school in the first week causes a pupil to be persistently absent later in the term.

Of pupils who were persistently absent in 2022/23, a third (33.3%) had at least one day of absence in the first week of the academic year.

Of pupils who had at least one day of absence in the first week of the academic year, over half (55.9%) went on to be persistently absent.

Free school meals (FSM) 

The overall absence rate for pupils who are eligible for free school meals is 11.4% across the academic year 2022/23. This compares to 6.2% for those pupils who were not eligible for free school meals. 

37.9% of pupils who were eligible for free school meals were persistently absent across the academic year 2022/23, compared to 16.7% of pupils who were not eligible.   

Special educational needs (SEN)  

The overall absence rate for pupils with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) is 13.3% across the academic year 2022/23. This compares to 11.1% for pupils with SEN support and 6.9% with no identified SEN. 

37.8% of pupils with an EHCP were persistently absent in this period, compared to 33.4% for pupils with SEN support and 20.2% for pupils with no identified SEN.

Gender

The overall absence rate for boys was 7.4% and for girls was 7.6%, while persistent absence was 22.6% for girls and 22.0% for boys respectively. 

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 78% 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: 80% of state-funded primary schools, 71% of state-funded secondary schools and 69% of state-funded special schools. Due to data only being representative of those schools currently participating in daily data sharing, it is possible there may be some differences.
  • 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)
  • 54% of pupils attended school on 5 July (68% for state-funded primary and 30% for state-funded secondary)
  • 50% of pupils attended school on 7 July (64% for state-funded primary and 27% 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.

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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
Contact name: School Census Statistics Team

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Telephone: 020 7783 8300

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