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COVID-related school absences increase

COVID related school absence rose from 3.9% to 5.1% in the two weeks from 6 to 20 January 2022, official figures have revealed.

Children in primary school

Department for Education attendance statistics showed that the proportion of students attending school was 87.4% on 20 January, down from 88.6% on 6 January.

“We estimate that 9.0% of teachers and school leaders were absent from open schools on 20 January, with 4.5% absent for COVID-19 related reasons, up from 8.6% on 6 January,” said the report.

“We estimate that 9.4% of teaching assistants and other staff were absent from open schools on 20 January, with 4.7% absent for COVID-19 related reasons, up from 8.9% on 6 January,” it added.

The statistics also showed that 24% of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teachers and school leaders absent on 20 January, compared with 18% at the start of term on 13 Jan, and 8% at the start of the academic year on 16 September. The increase has largely been driven by the increase in workforce absence in state-funded primary schools.

Furthermore, 36% of all state-funded schools had up to 5% of their teachers and school leaders absent on 20 January, down from 44% at the start of term on 13 January, and down from 65% at the start of the academic year on 16 September.

The report added that 21% of all state-funded schools had more than 15% of their teaching assistants and other staff absent on 20 January, compared with 16% at the start of term on 13 January, and 6% at the start of the academic year on 16 September.

Yet 99.9% of state-funded schools were open on 20 January.

Attendance of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP), and pupils with a social worker is typically lower than for other pupils. The report showed that approximately 82% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 20 January, which was the same as on 6 January.

Recent research has shown that that the number of pupils eligible for free school meals has increased from 1.44 million (17.3% of all pupils) in January 2020 to 1.74 million (20.8% of all pupils) in January 2021.

Attendance of pupils eligible for free school meals is also typically lower than for other pupils. But approximately 85% of all pupils eligible for FSM on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 20 January, up from 82% on 6 January.

The DfE report also showed that 93% of early years settings who responded to the survey were fully open, slightly down from 94% the previous week. There were 5% who reported to be partially open, while 2% were temporarily or permanently closed. This is consistent with findings from the previous week.

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

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