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NAHT comments on latest pupil and school staff attendance data

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary

Commenting on the latest school attendance data published by the government today, showing the levels of pupil and staff absence at the end of the Autumn term, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“These figures show just how bad things got at the end of last term, with both pupil and staff absence at their highest levels so far this year.

“As we enter the second half of the autumn term, school leaders are worried that unless the government does more, disruption is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

“A particular concern for school leaders is the ongoing impact of staff absence linked to Covid. We know that schools are finding it increasingly hard to cover staff absence and in many cases they simply cannot afford the cost of so many supply teachers. At the very least the government needs to re-establish the workforce fund that it abandoned last autumn. Without this crucial support there is a real risk that schools will struggle to keep all classes open as we move into the winter months.

“We also continue to call on government to look again at its Covid guidance for schools – our members want to see changes made to close contact isolation rules so that siblings of those who have tested positive for Covid don’t continue to go into school until they have received a negative PCR test.

“We also need to see more urgency from the government on improving ventilation as we move into the winter months. Keeping windows open is no longer practical or affordable and many schools have no way of knowing how bad the air quality is getting in classrooms as they still haven’t received their Co2 monitors. Government must ensure schools have the funding and resources they need to keep staff and students comfortable and safe this winter.”

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