Department for Education (DfE) data shows up to 11 per cent of children were absent from school for reasons linked to Covid-19 on July 15 – the day the Government body carried out its last snapshot survey.
More than ten per cent of children were self-isolating due to possible contact with a Covid-19 case, while the rest had a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus or were off as a result of Covid-related school closures.
At the end of term, rules stated children had to isolate for ten days if another pupil in their bubble – which could be an entire year group – tested positive for Covid.
The latest snapshot showed up to 13.7 per cent of secondary school pupils in West Sussex were not in class for reasons related to Covid, while up to 9.5 per cent of primary pupils were missing school.
Teachers and school leaders were also impacted by Covid-related absences, with 6.6 per cent missing work.
Across England, a record 1.13-million children in were out of school for Covid-related reasons on July 15 – 14.3 per cent of pupils from schools involved in the survey. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the data showed it had been an ‘extremely challenging end’ to an already challenging school year.
He said: “The Government must put a much greater focus on putting an end to educational disruption in the autumn term and provide more support to schools and colleges.” Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said while absence levels were mainly due to pupils isolating, there had also been a ‘sharp’ rise in pupils testing positive for Covid-19.
He added: “Removing the requirement for close contacts to automatically self-isolate will no doubt reduce absence figures, but it is important the Government does more to actively reduce case numbers amongst children and transmission in schools.”
A DfE spokesman said: “Where children needed to isolate last term, schools were required to offer immediate access to high-quality remote education.
“As of Step 4, schools no longer need to operate a bubble system, and from August 16 pupils will not need to self-isolate should they come into contact with a positive case, in line with the position for wider society.”