At least 770 Doncaster pupils absent due to Covid before Christmas

At least 770 school pupils were absent in Doncaster on just one day before the Christmas break because of coronavirus, estimates suggest.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 4:40 pm

The Education Policy Institute said the high rate of pupils out of school across England is a continuing concern with higher absence linked to greater learning loss.

The latest snapshot figures released by the Department for Education estimate that 776 pupils in state-funded Doncaster schools were absent because of Covid-19 on December 16 – 2.8 per cent of all those in schools which responded to the survey.

Of them, 662 were off because of a confirmed or suspected case of the virus.

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The high rate of pupils out of school is a continuing concern

A further 12 pupils were absent due to attendance restrictions in their school, 32 pupils were required to remain at home or isolate in line with government guidance, and 70 were isolating for other reasons.

Including absences for non Covid-related reasons, 80.8 per cent of Doncaster pupils were attending class that day, in the 79 (61 per cent) schools which responded.

This was down from 87.2 per cent on December 9.

Across England, 3.7 per cent of pupils were absent for coronavirus-related reasons on December 16 – the most since the start of the school year in September.

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Natalie Perera, chief executive of the EPI think tank, said: “Our research has shown an association between pupil absence and higher learning losses, so the high rate of pupils out of school 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.”

She added that staff shortages are likely to persist for some time due to the high level of infection in the general population.

On December 16, three per cent of teachers and school leaders were off because of Covid-19 in England. In Doncaster, 2.8 per cent of teachers were off.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The challenges posed by having so many staff absent will continue to put schools and colleges under severe pressure.

“The costs of bringing in the supply staff needed to maintain learning is crippling for schools and colleges and the Government needs to step in to help, as well as providing more support on ventilation.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.