14th December 2021

EPI responds to new school attendance figures

Today [Tuesday 14 December] the Department for Education has published new data on attendance in education and early years settings. The figures show that 236,000 pupils in state-funded schools in England did not attend school for Covid related reasons on 9 December, up from 208,000 on 25 November.

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

“Today’s attendance figures show that the disruption to education caused by Covid is far from over.

“What these figures won’t show is the highly localised picture and the huge differences from school-to-school. Some schools will have been able to continue as normal, while others will have already switched to remote learning.

“The government will need to keep its policies on school Covid management under constant review as we learn more about this variant. It must issue clear advice to school leaders and avoid the widespread confusion that we saw this time last year. Avoiding another schools lockdown must remain the priority.

“Another wave of prolonged disruption to education in the new year would mean that the government would need to consider additional financial support to help schools avoid further unmitigated learning losses.

“Our research has shown that by summer 2021 pupil learning losses were still substantial, particularly for those from poorer backgrounds and those in parts of the North of England and the Midlands. The government must do all it can to prevent pupils from falling behind with their learning again.”