The Department for Education has made a last-minute U-turn on a decision to only require schools to report Covid attendance data weekly from tomorrow.
As reported by Schools Week, last month the DfE said schools would be asked to submit data through the educational setting status form on a weekly basis from next month.
In an email to leaders, the department said that by that point, schools and colleges “will have settled into the new term”, and that reducing the frequency of reporting would save time.
But in a update issued today, the government changed its guidance for schools, stating that from Friday, the form “will continue with daily reporting”. The DfE said the U-turn was made because the data “remains crucial” to the government’s Covid response.
“This will be kept under review, and we will move to weekly reporting when the national situation allows.”
Data submitted by schools has provided the government and wider public with information about attendance and Covid-related absences for much of the course of the pandemic.
The DfE also announced last month that it would only publish data based on the form fortnightly from September. As a result, there has only been one publication since schools returned after the summer break.
It is not known whether the DfE will also U-turn on this decision. According to the department’s statistics release calendar, the next scheduled publication date is October 5, after which further dates are not confirmed.
Last week’s data release showed that as of mid-September, more than 100,000 pupils were off school because of confirmed or suspected cases of Covid, the highest rate of absence for those reasons during the pandemic.
However, the data also showed a sharp drop in overall Covid-related absence because under-18s are no longer required to self-isolate if they are close contacts of positive cases.
A DfE spokesperson said: “From Friday October 1, the educational settings form will remain open daily as this data remains crucial in shaping the government’s response to Covid-19.
“This will be kept under review, and we will move to weekly collection when the national situation allows.”