ASCL comment on Week 42 school attendance figures

20/10/2020
Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the Week 42 school attendance figures published today by the Department for Education.
 
Commenting on the Week 42 school attendance figures published today by the Department for Education, Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“The fact that nearly half of secondary schools have recorded one or more pupils self-isolating due to the protocols necessitated by the Covid pandemic, illustrates the continuing high level of disruption they are dealing with.
 
“School and college leaders and staff across all phases have done a remarkable job in managing these incredibly difficult circumstances and getting through to half term.
 
“They haven’t received enough support from the government over this time in relation to the availability of Covid tests, access to timely public health advice, and the impact of the costs they are incurring in implementing Covid safety measures without reimbursement from the government.
 
“A recent problem has been the patchy support that they are receiving from a Department for Education helpline which was set up to provide advice in the event of positive Covid cases.
 
“Incredibly, schools and colleges reporting a second or subsequent case were being told that they needn’t ‘bother’ phoning the helpline again, as they ‘already know what to do’. This line has apparently now been removed from the script used by call handlers, but the fact it was there at all isn’t helpful.
 
“The government clearly set out in its guidance for the reopening of schools in September that public health advice would be readily available.
 
“However, there have been far too many occasions when schools have experienced difficulty in accessing timely and useful advice, and the government hasn’t lived up to its promise.”