The methodology used for figures from 9 September 2020 is set out below. For the methodology used for published figures from 23 March to 16 July 2020, see the July 21 publication.
Details of the data requested and how it is collected is available at the Coronavirus (COVID-19): attendance recording for educational settings webpage. The following education settings were asked to complete the form:
- academies (including free schools and studio schools)
- local authority maintained schools
- local authority nursery schools (no longer required to submit data from 12 October)
- independent schools
- non-maintained special schools
- alternative provision
- university technical colleges
- FE colleges and sixth form colleges
- special post-16 institutions or specialist colleges
Validation of submitted data
There are some automatic validations on the data submitted by settings, some of which prevent submission and others that advise the respondent to check their submission.
Checks are carried out to ensure that no setting is double counted - if they submit data more than once per day the latest submission is used.
Manual checks are applied to the data during data processing and comparisons are made to other reported data. Outcomes from these checks are used to develop the validation rules within the data collection.
The education settings survey asks schools to provide the number of pupils on roll for use in attendance calculations. For non-responding settings, the total number of pupils on roll on the spring census in the 2019/20 academic year is used.
Data is linked to Get Information About Schools (GIAS) to match in further information about phase and school type.
The following school types from GIAS are included in figures for state-funded schools:
- Local authority maintained schools (Community schools, Foundation schools, Voluntary controlled schools, Voluntary aided school)
- Academies and free schools and sixth form colleges (Converter academies, Sponsor led academies, Free schools, Academy 16 to 19 sponsor led, Free schools 16 to 19, Academy 16-19 converter, Studio schools, University technical colleges)
- Special schools (Community special schools, Foundation special schools, Non-maintained special schools, Special converter academies, Special sponsor led academies, Special free schools)
- Alternative provision (Pupil referral units, Converter academy alternative provision, Sponsor led academy alternative provision, Free school alternative provision)
- City technology colleges
Figures for special post-16 institutions, further education colleges and independent schools are included separately in the ‘Open status and attendance by school or college type’ section of the publication. Figures for local authority nursery schools are not included, as these settings are included in estimates from the local authority early years survey.
The response rate has been between 75-80% among state-funded schools.
Since the response rate is not 100%, we estimate the situation in settings who have not responded in order to get a full national picture (a ‘grossing methodology’). This methodology is set out below.
Figures from Wednesday 9 September to Friday 9 October relate to data as at 4pm on each day. From Monday 12 October, figures are given as of midnight for completeness. This does not impact comparability, negligible changes to the estimates were seen between 4pm and midnight.
Non-response adjustment methodology
To establish the number and proportion of state-funded schools open to pupils, data collected via the education setting survey was triangulated with information from regular calls between DfE and all local authorities. The calls aimed to identify all schools that were closed or not fully open due to COVID-19. This information was cross-referenced with data collected via the survey to inform the final estimate.
A sample of 200 state-funded schools that had never responded to the survey since 1 September was taken, as of midnight 8 September. DfE attempted to contact schools by phone to find out if they were fully open. Schools were also encouraged to complete the survey in future.
- Of the 200 schools, contact was made with 166. For the remaining schools, searches were carried out for information that indicated they were not fully open - including media reports, school websites and school social media pages.
- All 200 schools were established to be open to pupils. Of these, 18 (9%) were considered not fully open, which is a similar proportion to responding schools. Schools were not fully open for both COVID and non-COVID related reasons.
- 104 of the 200 schools responded the following day (Thursday 10 September). Their reported absence was slightly higher than responding schools (16%). However, secondary schools were over-represented in this group of schools and this higher rate was accounted for by two large secondary schools who were staggering entry of year groups until week commencing 14 September.
As a result of this exercise, it is assumed that non-responding schools are no more likely to be closed, partially open or have lower attendance than responding schools. To calculate an aggregate figure for ‘state-funded schools’, responses are weighted by school type (primary, special schools and alternative provision) to account for differences in response rates. Assumption checking was carried out. If attendance in non-responding schools was 5% below that in responding schools, the national attendance estimate for 10 September would be 87%, 1 percentage point lower than reported.
To calculate grossed estimates for each setting type, the attendance rate is calculated in responding settings using the submitted number on roll and then applied to the number on roll in non-responding settings using the 2019/20 spring census. Attendance estimates for children with EHCPs and with a social worker are calculated by assuming that the same proportion of pupils on roll in non-responding settings have an EHCP or a social worker as responding settings. The attendance rate in responding settings for these groups of pupils are then applied to this estimated number on roll.
Changes to education settings survey from 12 October
Between 1 September and 9 October schools and colleges were asked to to report as ‘fully open’ or ‘not fully open’ to identify those affected by COVID-19. Schools were asked to report as ‘not fully open’ if:
- a group of pupils without COVID-19 symptoms themselves or in their households had been asked to self-isolate
- they were unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils for the whole of the normal school day
- they were not open to all year groups
- they were not open to pupils because of a training or INSET day
To reduce burden of data collection on settings, only those that self-identified as ‘not fully open’ due to ‘suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19’ were asked to report how many pupils had a confirmed case, suspected case or had been requested to remain at home due to potential contact with a case.
From 12 September, all responding schools and colleges are asked to report pupils in the following categories:
- Suspected case of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Requested to remain at home due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) inside your educational setting
- Those remaining at home due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) from outside your educational setting including self-isolation
We now report the number and proportion of schools that have requested 1 or more pupils to remain at home due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) inside their educational setting. This is not comparable to previous data on schools ‘not fully open’, which intended to capture schools with 'a group' of such pupils.
Comparability of attendance estimates and typical absence rates
The overall absence rate in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in England in the 2018/19 academic year was 4.7%. There are some differences in the calculation of this figure and our attendance estimates that affect comparability. These differences all depress our attendance estimates when compared to the 2018/19 absence rate.
2018/19 overall absence rates include pupils aged 5-15 in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools.
The following groups are included in our attendance estimates from 9 September, but excluded from the 2018/19 absence rate:
- Children in school-based nurseries, for whom attendance is not mandatory and many attend part-time (excluded from 12 October)
- Children in state-funded alternative provision, for whom the absence rate is typically much higher than average
- 4 year-olds on roll in state-funded schools, for whom the absence rate is typically slightly higher than average
- 16 to 18 year-olds on roll in state-funded schools, for whom the absence rate is likely to be slightly higher than average
We compared attendance in primary schools with and without nurseries, which suggested excluding children in school-based nurseries could increase our attendance estimate for state-funded schools by up to 1.5 percentage points. From 12 October, schools were asked to exclude nursery children from their submission. A corresponding decrease was observed in submitted number on roll in schools with nurseries. We estimate the other remaining differences depress our estimates by less than 0.5 percentage points.
COVID-19 related pupil absence
From 12 October, the education settings survey changed and therefore some metrics that used to be presented have been discontinued. The changes were made to give more comprehensive data about how many pupils are self-isolating for different reasons. There are no comparable figures to these from previous weeks.
This data is as reported directly by schools via DfE's daily education settings survey. It is not the primary source of data on infection, incidence and COVID-19 cases overall. Further detail can be found within the coronavirus in the UK dashboard, national COVID-19 surveillance reports and coronavirus infection survey pilot statistics.
Where COVID-19 related pupil absence categories are combined - for example to report the total proportion of pupils absent due to COVID-19 or the proportion self-isolating that are not a confirmed/suspected case - the proportion is reported as a range to account for possible double counting. Numbers of pupils are presented as ‘up to’ the upper bound of the range. Settings are asked to not count pupils in multiple categories, however analysis of responses found evidence of double counting.
The range is calculated as such:
- Minimum assumes maximum double counting by taking the largest figure from across each of the categories
- Maximum assumes no double counting by taking the sum of all categories
Some examples are provided below.
|Confirmed case of COVID-19||Suspected case of COVID-19||Self-isolating - potential contact inside||Self-isolating - potential contact outside||Minimum total COVID-19 related absence||Maximum total COVID-19 related absence|
Attendance of vulnerable children during the COVID-19 outbreak
Attendance of vulnerable children and young people was prioritised between March 2020 and the end of the summer term, when attendance was limited for other pupils to reduce transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). While all children are now expected to attend, provision for vulnerable children and their attendance continues to be monitored. Schools are asked to report the number of pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and the number with a social worker on roll and in attendance each day.
2018/19 overall absence rates include pupils aged 5-15 in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools. Our attendance estimates include pupils of all ages on roll in these schools, including children in school-based nurseries (until 9 October), 4-year olds in reception, 16-year olds in year 11 and all students in sixth forms. Pupils on roll in alternative provision (who have a higher than average absence rate) are included in our attendance estimates, but excluded from the 2018/19 overall absence rates.