ASCL comment on school attendance figures

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton comments on the latest school attendance statistics.
Commenting on the school attendance statistics published today by the Department for Education, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

Any hope that the Christmas holidays would act as a firebreak for schools and colleges have evaporated, with the latest set of statistics showing an increase in the number of pupils absent because of Covid-19 and, more significantly, the number of staff away from the classroom having risen still further.

“Despite the fact most secondary schools were phasing the return of students for testing to take place there is still huge disruption, with both confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases having risen since the last data was published in mid-December. The challenges posed by having so many staff absent will continue to put schools and colleges under severe pressure.

“The costs of bringing in the supply staff needed to maintain learning is crippling for schools and colleges and the government needs to step in to help, as well as providing more support on ventilation. 

“There have been more positive noises about rates of infection beginning to plateau in recent days and we can only hope this is reflected soon in the attendance figures. Until then, schools and colleges will continue to work incredibly hard to maintain education as best they can in the most trying of circumstances.