attendance Covid

The number of pupils absent because of potential contact with a Covid case in school has almost doubled in a week, new attendance data suggests.

Attendance survey data from the Department for Education shows 46,900 pupils were off last Thursday because of potential contact in-school, up from 25,200 on Thursday April 22.

The number of pupils isolating because of a suspected case also increased from 6,800 to 11,600 over the same period. However, the number with a confirmed case only rose from 2,400 to 2,700.

However, the number of pupils self-isolating is still far lower than was seen in March. At its peak, there were 173,000 pupils absent because of potential in-school contact, and 3.3 per cent of all pupils did not attend for Covid-related reasons.

In comparison, around 1 per cent of pupils nationally were absent for Covid-related reasons last Thursday, up from 0.6 per cent the week before.

Attendance rates initially fell during March following the wider reopening of schools as more and more pupils were sent home to isolate, but data released last week by the DfE showed how primary attendance had recovered to pre-pandemic levels after the Easter break.

Today’s data shows that overall attendance has fallen slightly at both phases. On April 29, 95 per cent of primary pupils were in school, down from 96 per cent the week before. Over the same period, secondary attendance fell from 91 per cent to 90 per cent.

Workforce absence statistics show 0.5 per cent of teachers, leaders, teaching assistants and other staff were absent due to Covid last Thursday, up from 0.3 per cent the week before. In comparison, 4.2 per cent were absent for other reasons.

Attendance ‘consistently high’, says DfE

A DfE spokesperson said attendance in schools “remains consistently high, showing the continued importance of the rapid testing programme for all staff, families and secondary pupils in helping keep the virus out of classrooms”.

“It is vital pupils and staff continue to test regularly as we continue on the roadmap back to greater normality.”

It comes after the latest round of a Covid school testing survey found rates in March were “significantly lower” than in similar studies in the autumn.

The fourth round of the schools infection survey was conducted in 137 schools between March 15 and 31, shortly after settings reopened more widely. The survey is a joint initiative by the Office for National Statistics, Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In the latest survey, 0.33 per cent of secondary school pupils and 0.32 per cent of secondary staff tested positive for Covid-19.

This is compared to 1.42 per cent of pupils and 1.36 per cent of staff who tested positive in the first round of the study last November, and 1.22 per cent of pupils and 1.64 per cent of staff in the second round, in December.