The Department of Education (DfE) estimates that 2.5% of all students – more than 204,000 children – were not in class for reasons related to the coronavirus last Thursday.
This is an increase from 122,300 children, or 1.5% of all students, on September 16 – a 67% increase from two weeks ago.
The figures come as chefs signaled “a high level of disruption”, with a union of principals warning that self-isolation rules “are actively contributing” to the spread of Covid-19 in schools.
Last week Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the government would “not take a step back and drop attendance” because education is “just too important”. But the latest analysis of student attendance shows that 89.5% of students were in class on September 30, down from 91.9% on September 16.
However, a secondary school in Leeds had more positive numbers but said it “continues to monitor” the numbers.
Ruth Gorse Academy has only had 13 cases of COVID since early September in a school of 1,250 students, and current attendance rates are 95.1% compared to the national average last week.
Principal Ben Mallinson said the number of cases was not a major concern at the moment, but the school continued to put safety measures in place.
He said: “We are following the guidelines for hand disinfection, hygiene and ventilation with the windows open. At the moment, we do not have to introduce additional protocols and measures.
“We haven’t seen the peak in the cases others may have had.”
Overall, across the country, around 204,300 children were not in class on September 30 for reasons related to Covid-19. The figures include 102,000 students with a confirmed case of Covid-19, up from 59,300 on September 16, and 84,100 with a suspected case, up from 44,600.
About 11,400 were absent due to isolation for other reasons, up from 15,900 on September 16. Another 4,800 students were absent due to attendance restrictions in place to manage an outbreak, up from 2,000, and 2,000 were not in school. closures due to Covid-19, up from 500.
Geoff Barton, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said, âGrim statistics show a sharp increase in the number of out-of-school students due to the continued devastation caused by the coronavirus.
âWe hear of schools where there are 10% or more of absent students and where staff are also off work due to the virus. Teaching and learning is very difficult under these circumstances and it is clear that the educational disruption of the past 18 months is far from over. “
Schools in England no longer have to keep students in age class ‘bubbles’ to reduce the mix, and children don’t have to isolate themselves if they come in contact with a positive Covid case -19.
Instead, they are advised to take a PCR test and only self-isolate if they are positive.
A DfE spokesperson said: “We are committed to protecting education, which is why the safety measures in place strike a balance between managing the risk of transmission with regular testing and improved ventilation and hygiene. , and reducing disruption to face-to-face education.
“We are working with parents and school and college staff to maximize student time in class – by encouraging testing and vaccine use for 12 to 15 year olds, and bringing in specialized attendance counselors to work on strategies to improve attendance when problems are identified. “
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