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Management information provided by schools in Wales on pupils present in maintained schools from 7 September to 18 December 2020.

This release will not be published on 30 December 2020 or 6 January 2021. The last publication of 2020 will be on 23 December. Publication will resume on 13 January 2021.


Please see the accompanying quality report for further information.

This data is management information extracted from school management information systems once a week. It covers pupils who were present at maintained nursery, primary, middle, secondary and special schools and includes pupils of all ages. It also includes some pupils from Pupil Referral Units.

The information in this release relates to pupils who were physically present on the school premises for at least one school session each day. Pupils who are learning from home due to COVID-19, including online learning, or are otherwise not on the school premises, are counted as ‘not present’ in this context. This collection allows us to measure the number of pupils that do and do not have direct contact with staff and other pupils at school during this pandemic.

This data has not undergone the same level of quality assurance as official statistics and the data may be subject to future revisions. The figures for the latest two weeks should be treated as provisional. Earlier figures are final and are not subject to change.

On 19 October 2020 the First Minister announced a two week coronavirus firebreak for Wales, beginning at 6pm on Friday 23 October and ending on Monday 9 November. This period covered the half-term holiday for maintained schools in Wales and the week commencing Monday 2 November. In this week, the vast majority of pupils in years 9 and above continued their learning from home.

On 10 December 2020 the Minister for Education announced that all secondary schools and colleges in Wales would move to online learning for the last week of term before Christmas. Many primary schools also closed during this last week of term. As a result of this the percentage of pupils present in school for the week commencing 14 December was much lower than previous weeks.

Main points

  • An average of 19% of pupils were present in school over the week of 14 December to 18 December. This information is provisional and will be revised on 13 January.
  • The percentage of pupils present rose steadily from the start of term and was at 88% in the week commencing 5 October, before falling in the weeks leading up to half term.
  • After half term the percentage of pupils present was highest in the week commencing 9 November, at 90%. This was the first week after half term that all pupils were required to attend and was also the end of the firebreak in Wales. The rate has fallen since then.
  • Boys are less likely to be present in school than girls. This is the same as the pattern seen in our historical publications where boys have lower attendance rates. The difference is usually less than 1 percentage point.
  • Primary school pupils are more likely to be present than secondary school pupils.
  • Amongst statutory school age pupils, pupils in year 11 are the least likely to be present in school.
  • The majority of all sessions missed during the week of 14 December to 18 December were either due to remote learning (code “[“) or an absence directed by the school (code “Y”). The data in this table is a count of half day school sessions missed and is not a count of pupils.
  • Table 7 shows daily attendance calculated to be comparable to that published in previous years. It shows that attendance ranged from 87% to 93% between 9 November and 4 December with an average of 91%, before falling over the last 2 weeks of term before Christmas. Over the 2018-19 academic year average attendance was 94%.
The percentage of pupils present each day has usually been between 80 and 90 per cent since 14 September 2020, before falling in the last two weeks of term before Christmas.

Background and context

The Education Minister announced ‘back to school’ plans on 9 July 2020. This included a two week period from 1 September where schools could have the flexibility to focus on priority year groups. The first day that all pupils were expected back in school was Monday 14 September.

Operational guidance for schools from the autumn term was published on 13 July and includes guidance on the recording of attendance.

On Thursday 5 November, Public Health Wales published a summary report on cases of COVID-19 that are linked to schools and colleges. This data is useful context to set alongside the information in this release.

National Statistics status

These statistics are not National Statistics and have been produced quickly in response to developing national and local events.


Datasets and interactive tools

Pupils present in maintained schools: 7 September to 18 December 2020 , file type: ODS, file size: 40 KB

40 KB
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Steve Hughes

Telephone: 0300 025 5060

Rydym yn croesawu galwadau a gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg / We welcome calls and correspondence in Welsh.


Telephone: 0300 025 8099

Rydym yn croesawu galwadau yn Gymraeg / We welcome calls in Welsh.