Information relating to pupil absence in school is collected on a termly basis from schools via the school census. Completion of the school census is a statutory requirement under section 537A of the Education Act 1996. Guidance on what is collected on termly attendance, including the full list of absence reasons, can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/complete-the-school-census/data-items.
The overall absence rates for state-funded primary and secondary schools in England, by local authority, for academic years 2016/17 to 2018/19, can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/99898173-7d81-4132-b9c7-9ef5695e425a.
The number of sessions of absence, by reason for absence, in state-funded primary and secondary schools, and special schools in England for academic years 2016/17 to 2018/19, can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/35b2b378-982d-4220-a992-26c678bb3e18. A session refers to half a day.
Data is also published in the publication ‘Pupil absence in schools in England’, which gives information by academic years and is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-absence-in-schools-in-england.
There are similar publications on absence in the autumn term, and absence in the autumn and spring terms. The latest release covering autumn term 2020 can be found at the following link: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-absence-in-schools-in-england-autumn-term.
Information has also been collected daily on attendance in schools and nurseries during the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.