levelling up opportunity areas

More than 1 in 10 pupils have not returned to school yet, the prime minister has revealed.

Boris Johnson told today’s Downing Street press briefing that “something like 89 per cent of pupils are back in school”, indicating that around 11 per cent are not.

Most schools across England have now fully reopened to schools, although some have had to close again or send classes him as a result of Covid-19 cases.

Ministers had said they wanted to see all pupils back at the start of the new school year, but Johnson today claimed the figures, which have not yet officially published, showed confidence in the government’s approach.

“I think one of the best things that has happened in the past couple of weeks is that parents, teachers, pupils have really risen to it,” he said.

“And the numbers I’m seeing are 99.9 per cent of schools are open now, and we can build on that, and I think something like 89 per cent of pupils are back in school, perhaps more in some places. That’s confidence in action.”

During the summer term, the government published weekly attendance figures for schools across England. The publication of official figures has not yet restarted, although the DfE has said that the next set of statistics will be published next Tuesday, September 15.

Today’s briefing was held to set out a toughening of lockdown restrictions across England, including the re-imposition of a ban on groups of more than six people meeting indoors or outdoors.

However, Johnson insisted that closing schools again remained a “last resort”, adding it was “fantastic” to see “so many children” back”.