Rise in absence sparks testing call as Covid variants hit

As Covid infections increase in the general population, staff and pupil absences have risen sparking renewed calls for the reinstatement of free Covid testing in schools.

The government no longer publishes a break-down of its attendance data to show absences due to Covid, but school leaders say it is no coincidence that absence is up just as infections nationally rise again.

Figures for June 23 (DfE, 2022) show that 6.5% of teachers and school leaders were off, up from 5.5% two weeks previously. Furthermore, 5.5% of teaching assistants and other staff were off, up from 5%.

It means that on June 23, 33,000 teachers and 39,000 support staff were absent from schools in England.

Teacher absences seem to be hitting secondary schools harder than in primary (6.7% compared to 6.1%) while support staff absence seems to be more of an issue for primary schools (5.5% vs 4.6%).

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