ASCL comment on pupil attendance statistics

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on pupil attendance statistics from the Department for Education published today.
We are pleased and relieved that pupil attendance in the academic year so far is 93.9% as last academic year was heavily impacted by Covid rates with attendance often below 90%. Covid was not the only reason. Absence has also been driven by factors such as poor emotional and mental health wellbeing, stress and anxiety, often driven by the impact of the pandemic. Schools have put a great deal of effort into encouraging and supporting pupils to attend consistently because this is so vital in terms of good outcomes. They deserve great credit.

“We are concerned that the latest Covid statistics suggest infection rates are increasing in the general population. Experience tells us that this will result in more pupil and staff absence in schools and colleges causing more disruption. We have repeatedly called on the government to address the fact that many of our school and college buildings are relatively old and suffer from poor ventilation, but it has done very little. We have also repeatedly called for more financial support for the cost of covering staff absence but instead schools and colleges are facing the prospect of having to make cuts because of steeply rising costs and no additional government money