From education to employment

Attendance in education: Sector Response

students with bags

A summary of attendance in education settings for the 2021/22 academic year, excluding out of term dates as data is not collected. The data covers England only. 

Headline Facts and Figures

Proportion of open settings including inset

  • 100.0%
    • up from 99.9% on 23 Jun

Proportion of students attending: adjusted

  • 86.9%
    • down from 89.4% on 23 Jun

From 21 April 2022, attendance figures for state-funded secondary schools, state-funded special schools and state-funded alternative provision have been adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils who are not in attendance because they are off-site for study leave, visits to education providers or other arranged activities out of school.

Attendance numbers are published for vulnerable children and pupils eligible for FSM but attendance as a proportion of total is omitted, except for state-funded primary schools who are unaffected by the adjustment. Data for state-funded primary schools will be published as before.

There is no fixed ‘end of term’ date for FE colleges and the academic year varies from institution to institution. Most FE colleges cease delivery of the study programme between 24 June to 8 July 2022. As such, we have removed attendance information for FE colleges due to low levels of data. We have also taken this approach for independent schools for similar reasons.

Open Rates

  • Over 99.9% all state-funded schools were open on 7 Jul 2022, up from 99.9% on 23 Jun.

Pupil on site attendance 

  • Attendance in all state-funded schools was adjusted to exclude year 11-13 pupils who are not in attendance because they are off-site for approved purposes was 86.9% on 7 Jul, down from 89.4% on 23 Jun.

Workforce absence

  • We estimate that 8.0% of teachers and school leaders were absent for any reason from open schools on 7 Jul, up from 6.5% on 23 Jun.
  • We estimate that 6.8% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent for any reason from open schools on 7 Jul, up from 5.5% on 23 Jun.

Sector Response

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“The rise in pupil absence is a reminder that Covid-19 is still with us, still disrupting education and still affecting the health of education staff. Pupil absences have risen by over 50% in the past four weeks: more than one in eight pupils are now off school, while staff absences have also risen significantly.

‘The current high absence figures are causing further disruption to pupils’ education as they try to catch up on missed learning before the end of the academic year. Catchup funding has never come close to reaching the levels recommended by the Government’s own Covid recovery tsar Sir Kevan Collins, and the current wave of infection and absence risks some pupils being left further behind as they head towards the summer break.

‘Government efforts to improve ventilation in classrooms remain woefully inadequate. The current Covid wave is occurring during mid-summer, when classroom windows are open and still the absence rate is high. This is a wake-up call: if the next Covid wave arrives in winter, transmission and sickness levels are likely to be much worse unless the DfE gets its act together and properly funds adequate ventilation in all classrooms.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders:

“It’s extremely concerning to see attendance rates for pupils falling rapidly again in today’s figures, and absence rates for teachers, leaders and support staff continuing to rise. It is impossible to know how many of these absences are directly due to Covid, as the government has made the decision to no longer collect this information. However, given the rising rates of infection across society, it is highly likely that Covid is playing a significant role in these worrying figures.

“A government which already appeared to have washed its hands of responsibility for these rising rates is now even more distracted by its own internal politics. In the meantime, education continues to be disrupted, and children and staff continue to fall ill, often multiple times.

“We simply cannot have this pattern continue to repeat, particularly as we head into the colder months again in the autumn term. The government must re-focus on the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and come up with a strategy to minimise this ongoing disruption.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“This matches what we have been hearing from our members. Covid has absolutely not gone away, and in fact we are hearing that cases have been on the rise again recently – in line with numbers nationally.

“While the summer holidays are coming up soon, there is already worry about the autumn and winter. The government can’t just leave schools to it in dealing with Covid. Learners need and deserve better than that. We need a proper plan for how to live with it long-term that is focused on keeping levels low and reducing disruption.”

Related Articles