One in eight pupils out of school as Covid worsens

One in eight pupils out of school as Covid worsens

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter

Image source, PA Media

About a million children – one out of every eight pupils – were absent from schools in England last Thursday, as Covid cases rose.

The official figures also show staffing problems worsening, with a quarter of schools seeing teachers and leaders’ absence rates above 15%.

Across England as a whole, about 9% of teachers were absent.

The government has recently removed the requirement for pupils to wear masks, after loosening Covid restrictions.

Of the one million pupils (12.6%) absent, 415,000 were out of school for Covid-related reasons.

Also on 20 January, 47,000 teachers and school leaders were absent – 3,000 more than two weeks previously – half for Covid-related reasons.

National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “Covid absence figures for pupils are the worst they have been this academic year.

“Schools are struggling to keep things running, with nearly 10% of their staff off, on average – but for some, this is much higher.

“Our members are repeatedly telling us that they are having to drop everything to find cover and that just keeping things going is a challenge.”

And this was putting huge pressure on pupils in exam years.

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