ASCL comment on pupil absence in autumn term

27/05/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on statistics on pupil absence in schools in England in the autumn term 2020. 
 
Commenting on statistics on pupil absence in schools in England in the autumn term 2020, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“These figures show what we already know – that the autumn term was an extremely turbulent period with pupils regularly having to self-isolate because they either contracted Covid or were in close contact with someone who tested positive.
 
“This difficult situation was compounded by significant problems early in the term obtaining Covid tests for pupils and staff and in obtaining public health support in handling positive cases.
 
“The government’s refusal to give schools any flexibility to finish in-school teaching early before Christmas, which was accompanied by threats of legal action, made matters even worse.
 
“The Prime Minister’s former senior adviser spoke yesterday of the government’s shortcomings in the handling of this crisis and it is certainly the case that schools and colleges were badly let down by government leadership during the autumn term.
 
“It is to their immense credit that they managed to keep the show on the road during this exceptionally difficult period. They did an outstanding job in incredibly challenging circumstances in delivering in-school and remote education to their pupils.”