Week 49 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 (opens in a new tab) 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 8 December 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 official statistics in development 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 (opens in a new tab) will be updated fortnightly, providing aggregate metrics on overall absence and reasons for absence estimated at national, regional and local authority level only. The series was first published in 2022/23 and is 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). The National Statistics are updated termly, with the latest data published in October 2023  relating to the Autumn and Spring terms 2022/23 and next expected to be updated in 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 (opens in a new tab)’ for more information. This will also give you, your local authority and your multi-academy trust (if applicable) access to daily attendance reports (opens in a new tab) to help identify pupils needing attendance support earlier.

Schools can now use the ‘Compare your attendance (opens in a new tab)’ dashboard to compare with other schools in the local authority. This has been updated to show data for this current academic year. Use it to compare absence and unauthorised absence for your school, as well as special educational needs and free school meals pupils. 


Headline facts and figures - 2023

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Latest data - week commencing 4 December 2023

Access the Pupil attendance and absence in schools in England: data dashboard (opens in a new tab) here

The latest data relates to the week commencing 4 December 2023 and is available in the pupil attendance dashboard (opens in a new tab). 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 data catalogue 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 92.0%, giving an overall absence rate of 8.0%. The absence rate varied across the week with a low of 7.5% on Wednesday, and a peak 8.8% on Friday. The decrease in attendance on a Friday is in line with weekly patterns seen during 2022/23 and in historical attendance data.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 88% 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: 89% of state-funded primary schools, 83% of state-funded secondary schools and 78% 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 (opens in a new tab) for more information. This will also give you, your local authority and your multi-academy trust (if applicable) access to daily attendance reports (opens in a new tab) to help identify pupils needing attendance support earlier.

Schools can now use the ‘Compare your attendance (opens in a new tab)’ dashboard to compare with other schools in the local authority. This has been updated to show data for this current academic year. Use it to compare absence and unauthorised absence for your school, as well as special educational needs and free school meals pupils. 

Academic year to date

Access the Pupil attendance and absence in schools in England: data dashboard (opens in a new tab) here

Data for the academic year 2023/24 relates to the period from 11 September 2023 to 8 December 2023. Data is available in the pupil attendance dashboard (opens in a new tab) and the data catalogue 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 2023/24 year to date was 6.6%. Absence increased from 5.0% at the start of the Autumn term to a peak of 7.1% in the week commencing 16 October (immediately prior to half-term for most schools). Following half-term, absence rates fell to 6.3% in the week commencing 6 November but have since risen and were 8.0% in the week commencing 4 December.

The majority of the change in absence has been driven by illness absence, however there have also been some smaller changes in unauthorised absence. Similarly to overall absence, unauthorised absence increased towards half-term and peaked at 2.5% in the week commencing 16 October (immediately prior to half-term). Unauthorised absence fell following half-term and was 2.0% in the week commencing 20 November but has since increased and was 2.5% in the week commencing 4 December.

The increase in absence prior to half-term is in line with weekly patterns seen during 2022/23 and in historical attendance data. In the 2022/23 academic year, absence increased by 1.1 percentage points between the week commencing 10 October and the week commencing 17 October, similar to the increase seen between the equivalent weeks of this academic year, although half-term dates do differ slightly between academic years.

The increase in absence between half-term and the end of the Autumn term is also in line with patterns seen during 2022/23 and in historical attendance data, although last academic year saw a larger increase in absence towards the end of term due to high levels of seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses, as shown in UK Health Security Authority data (opens in a new tab). In the 2022/23 academic year, absence increased by 4.8 percentage points between the week commencing 31 October and the week commencing 5 December, compared to an increase of 1.5 percentage points between the equivalent weeks of this academic year.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 88% 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: 89% of state-funded primary schools, 83% of state-funded secondary schools and 78% 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 (opens in a new tab) for more information. This will also give you, your local authority and your multi-academy trust (if applicable) access to daily attendance reports (opens in a new tab) to help identify pupils needing attendance support earlier.

Schools can now use the ‘Compare your attendance (opens in a new tab)’ dashboard to compare with other schools in the local authority. This has been updated to show data for this current academic year. Use it to compare absence and unauthorised absence for your school, as well as special educational needs and free school meals pupils. 

Help and support

Methodology

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

Official statistics in development

These statistics are undergoing a development. 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.

They 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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If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone: 020 7783 8300

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

Telephone: 037 0000 2288

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