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Management information provided by schools in Wales on pupils present in maintained schools from 7 September 2020 to 26 March 2021.

From 22 February 2021 schools began to open for pupils in the Foundation Phase (pupils aged 3 to 7) with attendance for those pupils being phased in over the week in some local authorities. From 15 March, all remaining primary school children and children in qualification years were able to return to learning on site. Schools in Wales continue to be open to vulnerable children or children of key workers of any age. All other pupils in years 7 to 9 continue with remote learning from home.

The figures in this release are provisional and are impacted by recent announcements regarding the return to schools following the February half term.

Due to the Easter school holidays there will not be a publication on Wednesday 7 April 2021. The next publication will be on Wednesday 14 April 2021.

Data from 15 March onwards will be updated in our release scheduled for the 14 April 2021.

Main points

  • An average of 74% of all pupils were present in school over the week of 22 to 26 March.
  • An average of 91% of Foundation Phase pupils and 90% of all primary school age pupils were present in school over the week of 22 March to 26 March.
  • An average of 71% of pupils in Year 10 and above were present in school over the week of 22 March to 26 March.
  • Information for the week of 22 to 26 March will be revised on 14 April.
  • Between 4 January and 12 March, boys have been more likely to be present in school than girls. This is different when compared to the pattern seen in our historical publications, where boys have had lower attendance rates. Girls have been more likely to be present in school than boys over the rest of the academic year. The difference is usually less than 1.5 percentage points.
  • The majority of all sessions missed during the week of 22 March to 26 March were due to 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.
  • A higher percentage of pupils were present during the lockdown restrictions between December 2020 and February 2021 than at any time during the first lockdown between March and June 2020. Data from the first lockdown can be found in the release on attendance at local authority settings.
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. Since 4 January 2021 schools have been closed to most pupils and online remote learning has been used. A phased return of Foundation Phase pupils began on the 22 February. From 15 March, all remaining primary school children and children in qualification years were able to return to learning on site.


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.

It has come to our attention that not all schools in Wales are continuing to record attendance electronically following the move to online learning. We are currently evaluating the impact of this on the published data. Any future revisions to the data may be more significant than has been the case to date.

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.

Other announcements that will impact historical data

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 2020. 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 2020 was much lower than previous weeks.

On 17 December 2020 the Welsh Local Government Association and the Welsh Government agreed on plans for a phased return to school in January. The new term started on 4 January 2021 although many schools will have scheduled an INSET day that day. The majority of pupils were expected back to school on 11 January with a full return by 18 January at the latest. These plans were updated on 4 January when the Minister for Education announced that all schools and colleges should move to online learning 18 January 2021. This period of online learning was subsequently extended until 12 February 2021.


All 4 nations are publishing regular data on attendance in school. We do not advise making comparisons between the nations due to differences in data collection methods, presentation, definitions of vulnerable children, and the timing of changes to lockdown rules which have an impact on attendance at school.

Background and context

The Education Minister announced ‘back to school’ plans on 9 July 2020. This included a two week period from 1 September 2020 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 2020.

Schools: coronavirus guidance

From Thursday 5 November 2020, Public Health Wales have 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 2020 to 26 March 2021 , file type: ODS, file size: 68 KB

68 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.