From education to employment

Latest attendance figures indicate we are not out of the woods yet, government has more work to do

Commenting on the latest school attendance statistics , Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“It is a relief to finally see positive progress on school attendance after months of severe disruption to education caused by the coronavirus, but the latest figures indicate we are not out of the woods yet and that the government has more work to do.

“The natural circuit-breaker afforded by the half-term holiday seems to have had a positive effect on infection rates among both students and school staff, whilst the vaccination programme for 12 to 15-year-olds is also playing its part. It has taken much longer than the government anticipated to reach the stage where a million young people have been vaccinated and there must now be a concerted push to complete the job.

“Encouraging those who haven’t yet been vaccinated to get their jab and asking all students to continue Covid testing at home must remain the government’s focus. But it must also now provide funding for high-quality ventilation systems that schools and colleges need. Asking them to simply open more doors and windows is not a viable solution as outdoor temperatures plummet.”

Comparing data from the start of this half-term to the end of the previous half-term, James Bowen, director of policy for school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“These latest figures appear to show the ‘half-term’ effect that some were anticipating, although attendance remains lower than it would be in a ‘normal’ year.

“As predicted, schools being closed for a week does appear to have had an impact on the number of cases among pupils and so attendance levels at the start of the new half-term have improved. It’s important not to over-interpret short-term data, but this does appear to belie the suggestion from some that schools are not playing a key role in Covid transmission.

“The government now needs to do everything possible to make this the start of a downward trend and not merely a blip before cases start to rise again. Last half-term there was a sense that government was simply sitting back and watching Covid numbers rise – we do not want to see that again this half-term.

“Once again we reiterate our calls for better support for schools that need to improve ventilation, a change to the guidance on self-isolation for siblings, and financial support for schools that are struggling with increasing supply costs.”


A summary of attendance in education settings up to 11 November 2021.

Applies to England


Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: 23 March 2020 to 11 November 2021


The data on Explore Education Statistics shows attendance in education settings since Monday 23 March 2020, and in early years settings since Thursday 16 April 2020. The summary explains the responses for a set time frame.

The data is collected from a daily education settings status form and a monthly local authority early years survey.

Previously published data on attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is also available.

Published 16 November 2021

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