5th April 2022

EPI responds to latest school attendance figures

Today [Tuesday 5 April] the Department for Education has published new data on pupil and staff attendance in education settings in England.

The new figures show that around 179,000 (2.2%) pupils in state-funded schools were recorded as absent from school due to Covid-related reasons on 31 March. Overall attendance in all state-funded schools was 88.6% on 31 March, down from 89.7% on 17 March.

Commenting on the school attendance figures, Jon Andrews, Head of Analysis at the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said: 

“It is clear that the impact of the pandemic has not been evenly felt by all pupils, with different pupil groups and regions facing greater challenges than others. Our research has shown that it is pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and those living in parts of the North and the Midlands who have been hardest hit.”

“Pupil and staff absences continue to cause disruption and it is likely that the effects will be inconsistent between schools. This raises questions about how the Department for Education and Ofsted should interpret school performance measures for this year.”

Ends. New EPI research on pandemic learning loss published by the DfE alongside its Schools White Paper last week found that: 

  • Learning losses for primary pupils in the recent 2021/2022 autumn term had shown signs of recovery since the 2020/2021 summer term. In maths, primary pupils were on average 1.9 months behind in the autumn term, recovering from 2.3 months in the summer. In primary reading, pupils remained 0.8 months behind over this period
  • But for pupils in secondary schools, in reading, there have been further losses amongst pupils over this period. Pupils were on average 2.4 months behind in reading in the autumn term, compared to 1.9 months in the summer term.
  • Learning losses for disadvantaged pupils remain greater than their non-disadvantaged peers. In the autumn, disadvantaged primary pupils were 2.2 months behind in maths and 1.4 months behind in reading. In secondary school reading, disadvantaged pupils were 3.5 months behind.
  • Between the summer and autumn terms, the gap in progress between disadvantaged pupils and their peers widened in primary and secondary reading, but narrowed in primary maths.
  • Large regional disparities in learning losses persist, with pupils in parts of the North of England and the Midlands seeing greater losses than those living in other regions. In the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, average learning losses in reading for pupils in secondary school were around 3 months, in comparison to 1.8 months in London.