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

students with bags

A summary of attendance in education settings for the 2021/22 academic year, excluding out of term dates as data is not collected. The data covers England only. 

Open Rates

  • Over 99.9% all state-funded schools were open on 7 Apr 2022.

Pupil on site attendance 

  • Attendance in all state-funded schools was 89.1% on 7 Apr.

Workforce absence

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

Sector Response

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“It is increasingly difficult to see the value of the government continuing to produce attendance statistics about the impact of Covid when it has removed free testing for both staff and pupils which was a crucial means of being able to tell whether or not staff and students have the illness.

“The evidence we have been hearing is that Covid-related absence among both staff and students was still a huge problem in a number of schools before Easter and that leaders have major concerns about ongoing disruption as we begin the summer term, with important exams for many pupils just a matter of a few weeks away.

“Worryingly, the statistics show that almost a fifth of schools had more than 15% of their teachers absent. It is very clear that Covid is continuing to wreak havoc and it is hard for schools to operate under these conditions.

“It is also very clear that the pandemic is not over. Reintroducing free Covid testing to prevent disruption to the first public exams in three years is clearly the obvious way forward, and we call upon the government to act urgently.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“Unfortunately the government’s decision to stop collecting any data from schools relating to covid absences means it is no longer possible to draw any conclusions from these attendance figures as to what the covid situation really is in schools.

“These changes are deeply troubling and ill-advised, and seem symptomatic of the government’s wider attempts to try to just pretend that the pandemic is over. The ‘living with covid plan’ is increasingly looking like an ‘ignoring covid plan’ when it comes to schools.

“This data does show that disruption is clearly still very high – almost 1 in 5 schools have more than 15% of their teachers and school leaders absent, and overall workforce absence is still close to the same level as at the start of term.

“Making such changes when staff and pupil covid absences remain high makes very little sense, and ultimately means that we have less information about why pupils have been absent from school. The lack of up-to-date information also raises serious questions about the government’s ability to respond quickly should cases start to rise or new variants emerge in the future.

“School leaders are seriously questioning the thinking behind this decision. An absence of information does not equate to an absence of covid.

“We continue to hear a sense of deep frustration from school leaders as they struggle to deal with the significant and on-going disruption caused by covid. Despite the government no longer collecting data, schools will still have to deal with the reality of higher than normal levels of staff and pupil absence. School leaders feel they have been abandoned.”

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