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.
“The passing of the first two full weeks of the spring term have seen attendance deteriorate further in our schools, with even more students and staff away from the classroom.
“Of particular concern is that almost one in ten of our teaching staff are away from work. As well as the impact on affected staff themselves, this also poses significant issues for leaders in trying to ensure they can continue to provide education for all pupils, including through the use of expensive and scarce supply staff. They need much more help from the government to meet the mounting costs they face.
“The government’s unexpected announcement last week that face coverings are now no longer recommended in classrooms, and from Thursday in communal areas, reduced the defences available to schools to control the spread of Covid-19.
“The contingency framework guidance continues to be that face coverings can be retained or reintroduced on the advice of local public health officials and the Department for Education in an individual school or across a local area if there is sufficient concern about Covid-19 infection rates in that area. While no one wants to see face coverings worn in schools for longer than is necessary, it is right that this should continue to be an option where public health officials believe it will help to stop local outbreaks.”