Week 36 2023

Pupil attendance in schools

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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.

The figures are published as experimental official statistics to give an indicative figure for the absence rate for the first Tuesday of the 2023/24 academic year. Fortnightly publications and pupil attendance dashboard updates, including overall absence and reasons for absence, will resume from 28 September 2023. 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 October 2023 (Autumn and Summer 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

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

Users should be aware of the following:

  • Response rate - 85% of schools have opted-in to submitting data, therefore national figures are estimates. 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.

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.

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.

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Help and support


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


Telephone: School Census Statistics Team
0370 000 2288

Press office

If you have a media enquiry:

020 7783 8300

Public enquiries

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

037 0000 2288

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