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.
We are pleased to see that there appears to have been a slight fall in the number of pupils absent from school because of Covid, and a small fall also in staff absence. However, the situation remains grave with very severe disruption continuing in many schools and colleges. 

“These figures show that a fifth of schools had more than 15% of their teachers absent last week. It is very difficult to operate in these conditions. The government's decision to withdraw free testing in such circumstances is a retrograde step, particularly with exams a few weeks away, and we have repeatedly urged ministers to reconsider. 

“We understand the government's desire to declare Covid over and done with, but that is simply not the reality in schools and colleges, where the illness continues to be a real problem because of the impact on both pupils and the workforce. 

“This impact is not only disruptive in terms of education. Covid symptoms may be relatively mild in some individuals, but this is not always the case, and the government should have more care for the millions of people who work and study in our schools and colleges.