Last reviewed 23 March 2022

The latest report from the Department for Education (DfE) on Attendance in Education and Early Years Settings During the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic shows that Covid-related pupil absence in all state-funded schools was 2.5% on 17 March 2022, up from 0.7% on 3 March.

The report, available here, notes that, among pupils absent for Covid-19 reasons, the main reasons for absence on 17 March were: pupils with a confirmed case of Covid-19 (2.0%) and pupils with a suspected case of Covid-19 (0.2%).

Attendance in all state-funded schools was 89.7% on 17 March, down from 92.2% two weeks earlier as Covid-related pupil absence rose from 58,000 on 3 March to 202,000 on 17 March. The increase was particularly noticeable in primary schools, where absences rose by 264% (33,200 to 120,900) during the period under review.

The DfE also estimates that 9.1% of teachers and school leaders were absent for any reason from open schools on 17 March, up from 5.8% on 3 March, while 8.5% of teaching assistants and other staff were similarly absent for any reason from open schools on the most recent date, up from 5.4% on 3 March.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: “We are living with, and managing, the virus but I know school and college staff continue to work tirelessly to support young people.”

However, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said that the removal of restrictions has at every stage of the pandemic resulted in infection going up.

“The Government's decision to stop Covid-19 testing in schools has made education disruption more likely, not less”, he said, calling on the Government to fund a nationwide programme of support to ensure no classroom fails to get the monitoring, air filtration, training or building improvements it needs.