Pupils: Absenteeism

Department for Education written question – answered on 6th September 2021.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the absence rate has been for pupils who are (a) in Year 10, (b) in Year 12 and (c) eligible for free school meals since schools re-opened to all pupils on 8 March 2021.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of absences due to covid-19 on schooling for (a) disadvantaged, (b) special educational needs, (c) disabled and (d) ethnic minority pupils.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the pupil absence rate is by local authority.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what information his Department holds on the average length of time that individual students in each year group have been absent in circumstances resulting from the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The COVID-19 attendance rate for pupils eligible for free school meals, from 8 March 2021 to 7 June 2021, is published on Explore Education Statistics (Table 1B) which can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Year group is not collected as part of the daily data collected from educational institutions and rates for this groups are not available.

Based on the Autumn Census, 60% of pupils had some period where they did not attend in circumstances relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. Further details on this can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-absence-in-schools-in-england-autumn-term.

The Department understands that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused particular challenges for different groups of children and has acted swiftly to minimise its impact and ensured that schools remained open for vulnerable children throughout.

The Department has also continued to work closely with local authorities to support them to re-engage absent pupils and share good practice. The £3 billion investment in education recovery includes over £900 million that schools can use to support the children who have been most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Government's Supporting Families programme continues to work with families where absence is a specific concern.

Data for autumn 2020 on pupil absence and not attending in circumstances relating to COVID-19 outbreak is published at https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-absence-in-schools-in-england-autumn-term. This includes data broken down by free school meals, special educational needs and ethnicity. Attendance data is not published by disability.

National data on the attendance of pupils during the COVID-19 outbreak is published weekly at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

There are breakdowns of attendance rate by pupils eligible for free school meals and those with special educational needs (educational health care plan). The coverage is from 8 March 2021 to 7 June 2021.

The COVID-19 attendance rate at local authority and regional levels is published on Explore Education Statistics (Table 1C) which can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

The Department collects the number of sessions recorded as not attending in circumstances related to the COVID-19 outbreak via the school census. This is collected as a total for each pupil across each term. It is possible to calculate the average number of sessions missed in a term but it is not possible to calculate the average length of each spell of non-attendance. 7% of sessions in Autumn Term 2020 were recorded as not attending due to COVID-19 circumstances. This represents 5 days (one week) per pupil. Data on pupil absence in schools in England, autumn term 2020/21 is available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-absence-in-schools-in-england-autumn-term.

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