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:
“Whilst it is pleasing to note a slight increase in overall attendance levels at schools and colleges, the underlying trend is yet another rise in the number of coronavirus-related absences among young people and, perhaps more worryingly, among education staff.
“The rise in staff absence may appear fractional but the reality is that it is now causing real headaches, with staffing problems further disrupting education. This is happening despite staff being vaccinated, with the issue exacerbated by an acute shortage of suitably qualified supply staff.
“The key to bringing levels of Covid infection back under control in our schools and colleges is clearly the vaccination programme for 12 to 15-year-olds but it has not been happening fast enough. It was painfully slow to get underway in some areas and has been beset by logistical problems, not to mention being disrupted by the irresponsible actions of anti-vaccination protestors.
“The announcement from NHS England that young people can attend vaccination drop-in centres during the half-term holiday is a big help and we hope they will do so in sufficient numbers to help slow the spread of the virus in schools and colleges.
“The rollout of carbon dioxide monitors to schools that the government promised at the start of term is only now happening and has been far too slow. These devices do not solve the ventilation problem for schools and colleges but is a step in the right direction. What schools now need to see is a commitment of funding from the government to allow them to install the high-quality ventilation systems that should further reduce infection levels.