ASCL comment on school attendance statistics

05/10/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the statistics from the Department for Education on attendance in education settings.
 
Commenting on the statistics from the Department for Education on attendance in education settings, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

These grim statistics show a big increase in the number of pupils out of school as a result of the continuing havoc caused by coronavirus. We are hearing from schools where there are 10 per cent or more of pupils absent and where staff are also off work because of the virus. Teaching and learning is very difficult in these circumstances and it is clear that the educational disruption of the past 18 months is far from being over. 
 
“The new Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi recently said that he won’t stand back and let attendance fall because the education of our children is simply too important. Now is the time for him to set out exactly what steps he intends to take to back up that statement with practical action to address the current situation. We are writing to him today expressing the urgency of the situation.
 
“One thing he might do is to look at why it is taking so long to deliver the carbon dioxide monitors to schools that the government promised at the start of term. These devices are a relatively modest step towards addressing the issue of ventilation – and we would still like to see investment in high-quality ventilation systems – but they are at least something. 
 
“Today’s figures emphasise the importance of the vaccination programme for 12 to 15-year-olds. The anti-vaccination campaign that is taking place is extremely unhelpful and we urge parents and students who have any concerns as a result of this campaign to seek out reliable and official sources of information. These vaccinations are an important step in keeping children in the classroom and returning the education system to normality
.”