Week 4 2024

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 26 January 2024. 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 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’ 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.

Schools can now use the ‘Compare your attendance’ 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 - 2024

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Latest data - week commencing 22 January 2024

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

The latest data relates to the week commencing 22 January 2024 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 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 92.2%, giving an overall absence rate of 7.8%. The absence rate varied across the week with a low of 7.5% on Thursday, and a peak 8.5% 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 - 89% 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: 90% of state-funded primary schools, 84% of state-funded secondary schools and 80% 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.

Autumn term

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

Data for Autumn term 2023/24 relates to the period from 11 September 2023 to 15 December 2023.

The overall absence rate for the Autumn term was 6.8%, down from the Autumn 2022/23 census absence figure of 7.5%. 

Across the Autumn term the persistent absence rate (pupils who miss 10% or more of their possible sessions) was 20.1%. This is a decrease from the Autumn 2022/23 census persistent absence rate of 24.2%.

Absence increased towards the end of the Autumn term. In the week commencing 11 December, absence was 8.4%, up from the start of term when it was 4.9% and previous peaks in the week commencing 25 September (6.8%) and the week immediately prior to half term (7.1%). The increase in absence prior to half-term and the end of term is in line with weekly patterns seen during 2022/23 and in historical attendance data.

Changes in absence during the Autumn term have mainly been driven by illness absence, which was 4.5% in the week commencing 11 December, up from the start of term when it was 2.0% and the previous peak of 3.8% in the week commencing 25 September

Unauthorised absence was fairly stable around 2.0% across the Autumn term, with peaks in the week immediately prior to half term when it was 2.5% and in the final week of term when it was 2.7%.

Free school meals (FSM) 

The overall absence rate for pupils who are eligible for free school meals was 10.4% in the Autumn term. This compares to 5.5% for those pupils who were not eligible for free school meals. 

33.0% of pupils who were eligible for free school meals were persistently absent in the Autumn term, compared to 15.7% of pupils who were not eligible.  

Special educational needs (SEN)  

The overall absence rate for pupils with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan was 12.4% in the Autumn term. This compares to 10.3% for pupils with SEN support and 6.1% with no identified SEN. 

34.7% of pupils with an EHC plan were persistently absent in the Autumn term, compared to 29.9% for pupils with SEN support and 18.2% for pupils with no identified SEN.

Sex

The overall absence rate during the Autumn term was 6.8% for girls and 6.7% for boys.

The persistent absence rate during the Autumn term was 20.2% for girls and 20.0% for boys.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 89% 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: 90% of state-funded primary schools, 84% of state-funded secondary schools and 80% 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.

Academic year to date

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

Data for the academic year 2023/24 relates to the period from 11 September 2023 to 26 January 2024. Data is available in the pupil attendance dashboard 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.

Across the 2023/24 year to date, overall absence is 6.9%. The rate of persistent absence (pupils who miss 10% or more of their possible sessions) is 20.5%.

Absence peaked at 8.4%, in the final full week of the Autumn term (week commencing 11 December 2023), up from the start of the academic year when it was 4.9% and the previous peak in the week prior to the Autumn half term when it was 7.1%. Absence fell following the Autumn term, dropping to 6.5% in the week commencing 8 January, but has since increased and was 7.8% in the most recent week. The increase in absence prior to half-term and the end of term is in line with weekly patterns seen during 2022/23 and in historical attendance data.

Changes in absence throughout the academic year to date have mainly been driven by illness absence, which was 4.5% in the week commencing 11 December, up from the start of term when it was 2.0% and the previous peak of 3.8% in the week commencing 25 September. Illness absence fell at the start of the Spring term, dropping to 3.1% in the week commencing 8 January, but has since increased and was 4.5% in the most recent week.

Unauthorised absence was fairly stable around 2.0% across the Autumn term, with peaks in the week immediately prior to half term when it was 2.5% and in the final week of term when it was 2.7%. Unauthorised absence remained high in the first week of 2024 (3.1%) however has dropped slightly to 2.3% in the most recent week.

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 89% 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: 90% of state-funded primary schools, 84% of state-funded secondary schools and 80% 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.

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

Press office

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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