Week 37 2023

Pupil attendance in schools

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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.

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.

This release covers the 2023/24 academic year from 11 September to 15 September 2023. National level figures are included in underlying data for the week commencing 4 September. For the full 2022/23 academic year and termly pupil absence data, including by characteristics please see this historical publication

The figures are published as experimental official statistics to give an indicative figure for the absence rate during the 2023/24 academic year. A national level figure was published on 7 September 2023 and from 28 September 2023 the pupil attendance dashboard will be 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, 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). Termly National Statistics will also be published on the page linked above in May 2023 (Autumn term 2022/23), October 2023 (Autumn and Spring term 2022/23) and March 2024 (full year 2022/23). 

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

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First week of the 2023/24 academic year

Attendance of pupils expected to be back in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools on Tuesday 5 September 2023 was 94%. Across schools types this was:

  • 95% in state-funded primary schools
  • 94% in state-funded secondary schools
  • 89% in state-funded special schools

Attendance data relating to the first Tuesday of the 2022/23 academic year showed a similar overall absence rate (95% in 2022/23). Fewer schools were indicated to be utilising an inset day on the first Tuesday of 2022/23 (7%) than on the first Tuesday of 2023/24 (19%). This is likely to be because the first Tuesday of the month fell further from 1 September in the 2022/23 academic year (6 September 2022 as opposed to 5 September 2013). This resulted in more days on which inset days could occur at the start of 2022/23 prior to data being reported.

Attendance rates only count pupils who were expected to attend school in person on the day. In cases where a school opening is delayed or pupils are learning remotely (for exceptional circumstances as defined in guidance issued to schools, or as a mitigation in place for reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC)) pupils would not be expected to attend in person and therefore do not contribute to the calculation of the attendance rate. The list of education settings with confirmed RAAC as of 30 August 2023, and the mitigations in place at these settings, has been published as management information.

Data for other days of the first week back is available in the underlying data in the data catalogue.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - On 5 September 2023 DfE received data from 69% of all schools. It is on this 69% that figures are based. The lower response rate reflects how some schools operate inset days on their first days back and so may not have turned on their school registers. The response rate for schools whose first day back was expected to be Friday 1 September was 80%, and 69% for those expected to be back on Monday 4 September. In recognition that response rates are not equal across school types and, therefore, not representative of the total school population, the overall absence figure for all schools has been weighted based on the Spring 2022 school census. Response rates for state-funded primary, secondary and special schools were 70%, 67% and 55% respectively.
  • Inset days and phased returns - Schools may run inset days on the first days back of a new term. Additionally, some - particularly secondary schools - may use phased returns, which see individual year groups return a day ahead of others. The data allows us to infer when schools are operating this way and the figures presented only consider pupils who were expected to attend on the day. The data suggests that 2,689 schools (19%) were operating inset days, 442 schools (3%) phased returns and 312 (2%) half days on Tuesday 5 September 2023. Pupils who are coded as unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances are not included in absence rates as these sessions are not possible for pupils to attend.
  • Reporting lag - Schools update their registers continually and attendance codes change, resulting in absence rates for a particular day to decrease over time. Figures are expected to change, therefore, between now and the reports due to be published from 28 September 2023. Historical figures will be recalculated in each publication.

Latest data - week commencing 11 September 2023

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

The latest data relates to the week commencing 11 September 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 95.0%, giving an overall absence rate of 5.0%. The absence rate varied across the week with a low of 4.7% on Wednesday, and a peak of 5.8% on Friday. The peak in absence on a Friday is in line with weekly patterns in historical attendance data.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 85% of schools shared data in the most recent week (though this has varied throughout the period of data collection), therefore national figures are estimates. Across school types this was: 87% of state-funded primary schools, 78% of state-funded secondary schools and 75% 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 2023 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.

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
Contact name: School Census Statistics Team

Press office

If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone: 020 7783 8300

Public enquiries

If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:

Telephone: 037 0000 2288

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