DfE statistics show around a quarter of early years children have returned to settings

Catherine Gaunt
Thursday, July 9, 2020

Just under a quarter of children that usually attend early years settings in term-time have gone back, according to the latest statistics from the Department for Education, which shows a gradually rise in pre-school children returning.

According to the statistics, 61 per cent of early years settings were open on 2 July
According to the statistics, 61 per cent of early years settings were open on 2 July

According to the data for 2 July, just under two-thirds of early years providers were open and 62,000 more children were attending early years settings than the previous week's figures.

There were 382,000 children in nurseries, pre-schools or childminding settings, up from 320,000 on 25 June.

This represents about 23 per cent of the number of children who usually attend in term time.

The data, Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, estimates that on 2 July:

  • 42,000 settings were open
  • This represents 61 per cent of all settings, with 31 per cent closed and 8 per cent unknown
  • Approximately 23,000 vulnerable children attended early years settings on 2 July. This represents around 24 per cent of birth to four-year-olds classified as ‘Children in Need’ or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan.


The response rate to the local authority survey on early years was 89 per cent, with 135 out of 151 LAs submitting data by 6pm on 2 July.

The data for early years settings includes group-based providers (Ofsted-registered nurseries and pre-schools), school-based providers (any pre-school provision run by school governing bodies, nursery classes in schools and maintained nursery school provision) and Ofsted-registered providers.

Primary schools

The data also estimates that on 2 July:

  • 88 per cent of primary schools were open to nursery, Reception, year 1 and/or year 6, a similar proportion to 25 June (89 per cent).
  • Attendance was highest in year 6, with approximately 44 per cent of all year 6 children in attendance, up from 41 per cent on 25 June.
  • Attendance was around 38 per cent in year 1, up from 34 per cent and 40 per cent in Reception, up from 36 per cent.

Commenting on the figures, education secretary Gavin Williamson said, 'The very best place for children to be is in the classroom, which is why we have set out our plans for all young people to return to education full-time from September. 

‘I know how challenging the last three months have been for teachers, school leaders and support staff, including adapting to welcome more children back into the classroom. Last week, almost 1.6 million pupils were back at schools and colleges, which is a testament to their outstanding work. 

‘I want to reassure parents and families that we are doing everything we can to make sure schools are as safe as possible for children and staff, and will continue to work closely with the country’s best scientific and medical experts to ensure that is the case.’

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