School attendance data: Government 'pretending that the pandemic is over'

The latest school attendance figures have been stripped of any data on Covid-related absence as ministers try to “pretend that the pandemic is over”.

The removal of free Covid testing for staff and pupils and the decision to stop recording Covid-related absence has rendered the attendance data of little use when it comes to tracking Covid in schools, say school leaders.

The Department for Education (DfE) published the latest attendance figures for England’s schools on Tuesday (April 19).

They now only show overall attendance as well as a total figure of workforce absence for any reason after the DfE’s decision to stop collecting data on specific Covid absence.

The government also ended public access to free tests from April 1 as part of its Living with Covid Strategy. The legal requirement for people to self-isolate following a positive test ended in late February, although the government’s guidance still advises self-isolation.

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