ASCL comment on education attendance statistics

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the Department for Education’s latest statistics on attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is very worrying to see that the percentage of students and staff absent from school has risen. These statistics no longer contain a breakdown of absence due to Covid because of the government’s ‘living with Covid’ policies. However, it is highly unlikely to be a coincidence that we are seeing absence in education settings rising at the same time as Covid infections are increasing in the general population. 

“Our concern is that this is going to keep happening with wave after wave of infections causing fresh disruption in our schools and colleges. There is absolutely no government strategy to deal with this issue. We are not for a moment calling for a return to a battery of restrictions but there surely needs to be some thought given to providing some free Covid testing, more financial support for supply staff cover, and looking again at issues such as ventilation ahead of the autumn term as it is abundantly clear that the virus is not going away. This is not only an educational issue but a health one too as it is clear that staff and students are catching the virus repeatedly with potential harm to their welfare