DfE stats suggest attendance boost following half-term break

School attendance rose to 89.3 per cent following the half-term break, with the number of state-funded secondary schools reporting pupils self-isolating also falling.

The Department for Education’s weekly attendance data reported 92 per cent attendance in state primary schools and 87 per cent in secondaries as of Thursday, November 5.

This an increase from the 86.2 per cent attendance reported in schools as of October 22 (the last week before half term), with 90 per cent at primary level and 82 per cent at secondary.

However, the DfE has warned against comparisons of the two figures as a number of schools were on half-term on October 22, saying that the better comparison is attendance figures in the week of October 15 “to ensure estimate are comparable”.

Attendance for October 15 was 89.2 per cent, meaning this week’s figures only constitute a 0.1 percentage point rise.

That’s because there was a large attendance drop in the following week, with just 86.2 per cent of pupils at school on October 22.

When the analysis was published for the October 22 figures, however, the DfE insisted the drop “reflects a national-level decrease unrelated to half-term” that is “largely due to an increase in Covid-19 related absence”.

Either way, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) , said he was “hugely encouraged by the fact that the level of attendance in schools has remained stable despite the announcement of a new national lockdown.

“It is absolutely the right priority to keep schools open because of their critical importance not only in terms of education but also in the welfare of many children.”

Elsewhere the report stated around 4 per cent of pupils did not attend school for Covid-19 related-reasons on Thursday – accounting for around 327,600 pupils.

Again this is a notable drop from the last time the figures were reported when around 573,300 pupils were absent.

Of these pupils, 0.1 per cent of pupils were off with a confirmed case of coronavirus and 0.3 per cent with a suspected case of coronavirus.

Between 3.2 and 3.7 per cent of pupils were self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus, while 0.3 per cent accounted for pupils who were in schools closed due to Covid-19 related reasons.

Furthermore, the percentage of schools reporting pupils self isolating dropped from 21 per cent, on October 15, to 16 per cent last week. This equated a drop from 46 to 38 per cent for state secondaries, and 16 to 11 per cent in primaries.