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’s extremely concerning to see attendance rates for pupils falling rapidly again in today’s figures, and absence rates for teachers, leaders and support staff continuing to rise. It is impossible to know how many of these absences are directly due to Covid, as the government has made the decision to no longer collect this information. However, given the rising rates of infection across society, it is highly likely that Covid is playing a significant role in these worrying figures.
“A government which already appeared to have washed its hands of responsibility for these rising rates is now even more distracted by its own internal politics. In the meantime, education continues to be disrupted, and children and staff continue to fall ill, often multiple times.
“We simply cannot have this pattern continue to repeat, particularly as we head into the colder months again in the autumn term. The government must re-focus on the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and come up with a strategy to minimise this ongoing disruption.”