11th January 2022

EPI responds to new DfE figures on pupil and teacher absences

Today [Tuesday 11 January] the Department for Education has published new data on attendance in education and early years settings, covering both pupils and school staff.

The new figures show that while overall pupil attendance was higher than before Christmas, around 315,000 pupils in state-funded schools in England did not attend school for Covid related reasons on the 6 January, up from 301,000 on the 16 December. 

4.9% teachers and school leaders were also shown to be absent due to Covid related reasons, a rise from 3% on December 16.


Commenting on the new attendance figures, Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said: 

“Today’s figures reflect the huge challenges facing schools and come as we have seen further evidence that increasing numbers of pupils are switching to online learning.   

“Teacher absences have increased ​significantly, while a very large proportion of support staff are now also absent. The acute staff shortages seen in schools are likely to persist for some time due to the high level of infection in the general population. 

“The government needs to monitor how schools are responding to shortages and consider whether its workforce fund to help schools cover absent staff goes far enough.  

“Our research has shown an association between pupil absence and higher learning losses, so the high rate of pupils out of school seen today continues to be a concern. 

 “The government must closely follow pupil absences this term and consider whether additional financial support to help pupils avoid further learning losses is needed. Learning losses vary considerably across the country, with those from poorer backgrounds and those in parts of the North of England and the Midlands hardest hit. We need to see education interventions that are well-targeted to those areas most affected.”