Commenting on school attendance statistics
published by the Department for Education today, which show the number of secondary schools fully open has fallen from 92% to 84%, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“We are extremely concerned to see a drop in the number of secondary schools fully open due to Covid cases and the resulting requirement for groups of pupils to self-isolate. This reflects the extremely difficult circumstances in which schools are operating amidst rising infection rates in the community.
“While there are some signs of improvement in accessing Covid tests and obtaining timely public health advice in the event of positive cases, we continue to receive reports from schools that problems persist, and this is not good enough. It is increasingly clear that schools have effectively found themselves on the frontline of managing the public health emergency, as well as delivering education, and the support simply has to be there.
“The pressure on school leaders and their staff is immense, and we are concerned that it is unsustainable over the long term, and will result in deteriorating mental health and wellbeing.
“The virus is an inescapable reality but there is much that the government can do to relieve associated pressures. It must reimburse schools for the costs involved in implementing safety measures to control the virus, clarify its plans and contingencies for next summer’s GCSEs and A-levels, suspend performance tables for this academic year, and postpone plans to resume Ofsted inspections in January.
“Schools need a greater sense that the government has grasped the scale of the challenge they face and that it is backing them up.”