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Attendance at school drops further due to COVID-19

School attendance rates have fallen further the week before restrictions were lifted, DfE figures have shown.

Children in primary school

Attendance rates on 15 July was 76.7% falling from 80.4% on 8 July and 83.4% on 1 July. On 24 June, attendance rates were 87.4%, showing more than a 10% drop in the number of children attending schools in less than a month.

“COVID-related pupil absence in state schools continues to increase and is currently at its highest rate since schools reopened in March 2021,” said the report from the Department for Education.

COVID-related pupil absence in state-funded schools was 14.3% on 15 July increased from 11.2% on 8 July and 8.5% on 1 July.

Breaking these figures down, it means:

  • In primary schools, COVID-related absence was 12.1% on 15 July, up from 9.8% on 8 July and 7.4% on 1 July.
  • In secondary schools, COVID-related absence was 17.9% on 15 July. This is up from 13.5% on 8 July and 10.4% on 1 July.

In state-funded primary schools attendance was 82.8% on 15 July, down from 85.1% on 8 July and 87.8% on 1 July. Attendance in state-funded secondary schools was 67.3% on 15 July, down from 73.6% on 8 July and 76.9% on 1 July.

In primary schools on 15 July, approximately:

  • 82% of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) were in attendance down from 84% on 8 July
  • 81% of pupils with a social worker, compared to 83% on 8 July
  • 81% of pupils eligible for free school meals were in attendance on 15 July, down from 83% on 8 July.

This compares to 82.8% attendance of all pupils in primary schools on 15 July.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “These figures bring a year of unprecedented educational disruption to a grim end with Covid-related absences in our schools topping the one-million mark.

“Our schools and colleges now face another set of challenges when students return in September. They need substantial financial and practical support for on-site asymptomatic testing for students, high-quality air ventilation systems and robust outbreak management plans.

“This work cannot be done on the cheap and the government needs to stop counting the pennies and address the situation with a proper injection of support and funding to allow leaders to prepare properly. We simply cannot have this level of disruption to education during the next academic year.

“We must pay tribute to the resilience and leadership of our schools and colleges as they have fought hard to keep young people in the classroom towards the end of an exhausting year of unrelenting pressure and challenge.”

Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

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