ASCL comment on school attendance figures

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the school attendance statistics published today by the Department for Education.
“It is increasingly difficult to see the value of the government continuing to produce attendance statistics about the impact of Covid when it has removed free testing for both staff and pupils which was a crucial means of being able to tell whether or not staff and students have the illness.
“The evidence we have been hearing is that Covid-related absence among both staff and students was still a huge problem in a number of schools before Easter and that leaders have major concerns about ongoing disruption as we begin the summer term, with important exams for many pupils just a matter of a few weeks away.
“Worryingly, the statistics show that almost a fifth of schools had more than 15% of their teachers absent. It is very clear that Covid is continuing to wreak havoc and it is hard for schools to operate under these conditions.
“It is also very clear that the pandemic is not over. Reintroducing free Covid testing to prevent disruption to the first public exams in three years is clearly the obvious way forward, and we call upon the government to act urgently.”