Last reviewed 27 January 2022

The Department for Education (DfE) has published the latest data on early years workforce absence, revealing that 13% of staff working in nurseries and childminder settings were absent from work due to Covid-19 on 12 January.

The data is from the DfE's first weekly “pulse” survey which records the number of staff off work for Covid-related reasons, including a confirmed or suspected case or caring for dependants for Covid-related reasons. The figure fell slightly from 14% the previous week.

More than 2000 providers, including nurseries, school-based settings and childminders, took part in the surveys on 5 and 12 January, which also collect data on child attendance and open rates of settings. The survey will run weekly up until February half-term, when it will be reviewed.

Other key findings from the latest survey include the following.

  • 93% of early years settings were fully open, which was slightly down from 94% the previous week.

  • 5% of settings reported to be partially open, while 2% were temporarily or permanently closed.

  • 85 % of children attended their usual place at their setting, up slightly from 84% the week before.

  • 91% of open group-based and school-based providers reported there were no days when they were unable to offer their regular or usual provision because of staff absences, slightly down from the previous week.

  • 4% of settings said their provision remained open but with restricted attendance because of workforce absences, compared to 3% the previous week.

A DfE spokesperson said:

“We know the early years sector is working hard to support children and their parents. Thanks to their resilience against this latest wave, the vast majority of providers who responded to our survey are fully open and providing their regular childcare offer for families despite clear pressures on staff.

“We have provided extensive guidance on the measures to take to reduce the spread of Covid-19, as well as significant financial support to protect providers from the impact of the pandemic. Providers can also use existing flexibilities set out in the Early Years Statutory Framework to manage short-term workforce pressures, so long as children continue to be cared for safely.”

The full DfE figures are available here.