- As of 22 July 2022, 62.4% of pupils aged 12 to 15 years and 80.5% of pupils aged 16 to 17 years at the start of the 2021 to 2022 academic year had received at least one dose of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, while 45.3% and 69.8%, respectively, had received at least two doses.
Among those aged 12 to 15 years at the beginning of the 2021 to 2022 academic year in state-funded schools in England:
Parental vaccination status had the biggest impact on vaccine uptake; pupils living in a household where at least one parent had received three or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were the most likely to have received a vaccine (81.6% received at least one dose) – this compares with 5.3% for pupils where no parent had been vaccinated.
Vaccination uptake varied between ethnic groups – Chinese and Indian pupils were most likely to have received at least one dose (83.5% and 75.7%, respectively), while Gypsy or Roma and Black Caribbean pupils were least likely (15.8% and 16.5%, respectively); although this is in part related to different levels of deprivation, large differences in the odds of being vaccinated by ethnic group still exist after accounting for deprivation.
Pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) had much lower vaccination coverage than those not eligible (44.3% compared with 68.8% with at least one dose); schools with higher proportions of pupils eligible for FSM also had lower vaccination coverage.
Pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL) had lower vaccination coverage compared with those who speak English as a first language (47.2% compared with 65.4% with at least one dose).
Pupils with an identified special educational need (SEN) had lower vaccination coverage compared with those with no identified needs (57.2% and 63.5%, respectively, with at least one dose).
In this publication, age has been defined as the age as at the beginning of the 2021 to 2022 academic year (31 August 2021) to keep pupils in the same year group together. As the data have been extracted near the end of the academic year, the majority of those in each age group will be one calendar year older.
A confidence interval gives an indication of the degree of uncertainty of an estimate, showing the precision of a sample estimate. The 95% confidence intervals are calculated so that if we repeated the study many times, 95% of the time the true unknown value would lie between the lower and upper confidence limits. A wider interval indicates more uncertainty in the estimate. Overlapping confidence intervals indicate that there may not be a true difference between two estimates.
For more information, see our methodology page on statistical uncertainty.
English as an additional language (EAL)
The Department for Education’s English proficiency of pupils with English as an additional language (PDF, 720KB) report defines EAL as “if a pupil is exposed to a language at home that is known or believed to be other than English. It is not a measure of English language proficiency or a good proxy for recent immigration”. In this publication, we use information recorded about whether a pupil has EAL as recorded by schools as part of the English Schools Census.
Free school meals (FSM)
FSM is a statutory benefit available to school-aged children from families who meet the qualifying criteria (predominantly based around income), which is published by the Department for Education. In this publication, we define FSM as pupils having been eligible for FSM in the last six years, using information recorded by schools as part of the English Schools Census.
Special educational needs (SEN)
The Department for Education and Department for Health and Social Care’s Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years (PDF, 3.23MB) guidance defines a child as having SEN if “they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she: has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.”
In this publication, we use information recorded about whether a pupil has SEN recorded by schools as part of the English Schools Census. Pupils attending special schools are included in all analysis in this article except the school-level analysis (Section 7), which focuses on secondary schools.
An odds ratio indicates the likelihood of pupils having received at least one dose of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine given a particular characteristic or variable. When a characteristic or variable has an odds ratio of one, this means there is neither an increase nor a decrease in the likelihood of having received a vaccination compared with the baseline category. An odds ratio greater than one indicates an increased likelihood of having received a COVID-19 vaccination compared with the baseline category. An odds ratio less than one indicates a decreased likelihood of having received a COVID-19 vaccination compared with the baseline category.
Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI)
The IDACI, used for our deprivation figures, calculates deprivation deciles based on the proportion of children aged 0 to 15 years living in deprived-income households, that is, households not working or working on low incomes eligible for means-tested benefits. The index ranks the 32,844 small areas in England from most deprived to least deprived and divides them into 10 equal groups. For example, small area X is ranked 5,000 out of 32,844 small areas in England, where 1 is the most deprived. This means that small area X is among the 20% most deprived small areas in the country and therefore would be in IDACI decile 2. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), formerly the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has published further information.Back to table of contents
Measuring the data
The English Schools Census (ESC) is a mandatory annual return to the Department for Education by state-funded schools and local authorities. All pupils attending state-funded primary schools, secondary schools (including sixth forms attached to schools), nurseries and special schools in England are recorded.
The ESC covers pupil and school characteristics for a set date. Data in this article have been updated since the previous publication with data for the 2021 to 2022 academic year, which was collected on Thursday 15 February 2022.
For further information on how the ESC data were linked to data from the National Immunisation Management System, please see our previous publication.
As this dataset covers pupils in state-funded schools only and age has been taken as at the beginning of the 2021 to 2022 academic year, the data will differ from the administrative data on vaccinations published weekly by NHS England. The NHS weekly data cover all vaccinations given to individuals who have an NHS number and are currently alive in the resident population.
For Section 5 and Section 6, Census 2021 data were used. Each pupil in the ESC was linked to their census record. As the census contains a unique household ID, those living in the same household on Census Day (21 March 2021) can be identified. To produce Figure 5, those listed as parents or stepparents were identified, and their vaccination status was attached using an existing link between Census ID and NHS number. In households with more than one parent, the parent with the most vaccinations was used to create the groupings displayed in the chart.
Logistic regression model
The characteristics associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination uptake are all interlinked. We used logistic regression to estimate the odds ratios of being vaccinated associated with each demographic, socio-economic and geographical factor.
The following factors were entered simultaneously into a model to check the association between each factor and the likelihood of vaccination, once the difference because of all other variables in the model has been accounted for:
maximum parental vaccination status (the highest number of doses any parent or stepparent linked to a pupil has had)
living with elderly household member
special educational needs status
English as an additional language status
free school meals (FSM) status
Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index decile
urban or rural
This model was initially fitted without parental vaccination status or living with an elderly person. When adding parental vaccination status to the model, the impact of the important variables associated with vaccination uptake (ethnicity and deprivation) reduces in size. This is to be expected as these variables are also correlated with parental vaccine uptake. For example, 19% of pupils eligible for FSM lived in a household where all parents were unvaccinated compared with 6% of non-FSM pupils.
Generalised estimating equation model
A generalised estimating equation model was used to estimate the rate ratios of new infections among those aged 12 to 15 years per school in the autumn 2021 term and spring 2022 term to investigate the association between vaccine coverage in a school and COVID-19 infection rates.
This analysis uses data from 30 August 2021 to 4 April 2022, and the factors entered into the model were:
the percentage of pupils who have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination per school – grouped into categories
the overall school population for all students aged 12 to 15 years
region of England
urban or rural classification
percentage of pupils receiving FSM
percentage of pupils who are White British
percentage of pupils who speak English as their first language
To compensate for the difference in the number of pupils per school, as larger schools may be expected to have more COVID-19 infections than smaller schools, the log of school pupils at risk of an infection (those who have not had an infection in the past 90 days during Omicron and the past 120 days during the Delta period) was used as an offset, to allow us to model rates rather than counts.
One strength of the dataset is its size. The English Schools Census (ESC) contains pupil-level data collected from all state-funded schools in England. This represents over 3.2 million pupils aged 12 to 17 years and allows for potential analysis of smaller under-representative groups.
The data contain a rich source of background characteristics, which allow us to analyse how rates of COVID-19 vaccination differ by socio-demographic group and examine the extent to which these differences are driven by other factors.
Making use of already existing administrative data sources avoids the need to set up bespoke surveys, which can be costly and suffer from response bias. The addition of the Census 2021 data provides more detail on the pupils’ households.
Coverage is lower among those who have finished Year 11 (those aged 16 or 17 years as of 31 August 2021). Those studying in Years 12 or 13 in sixth forms attached to schools will be included in the ESC, but those studying in further education colleges or sixth form colleges will not be included. Some data items are only collected for those in Year 11 and below (for example, FSM status), meaning the more detailed breakdowns in this article are restricted to those aged 12 to 15 years.
As we are using existing administrative data sources, we cannot explore the reasons for lower vaccination rates among different groups.
Using Test and Trace data to monitor trends in COVID-19 infection relies on infections being diagnosed. Our previous publication provides more detail on the sources of bias that may exist in this data.Back to table of contents
This analysis was produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) with support from our School Infection Survey research partners at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and UK Health Security Agency.Back to table of contents
Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 23 September 2022, ONS website, article, Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination uptake in school pupils, England: up to 22 July 2022Back to table of contents
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