More than a third of primary pupils off as term started

New figures show a big drop in primary school attendance on the first day of term – before the announcement of closures
12th January 2021, 3:59pm
John Roberts

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More than a third of primary pupils off as term started

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/more-third-primary-pupils-term-started
Coronavirus: More Than A Third Of Primary School Pupils Were Not In School On The First Day Of The New Term, New Figures Show

More than a third of primary pupils were not in school on the first day of this term, before national lockdown began, new figures reveal.

The Department for Education data shows attendance in primary schools was 65 per cent on 4 January.

This figure is slightly skewed by schools in the areas hardest hit by Covid, where the government said they should only open to vulnerable children and those of critical workers. These "contingency area" schools saw average attendance of just 6 per cent.


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PM: Schools move online after just one day in major U-turn


But attendance in primary schools outside of these areas also dropped sharply last Monday compared with previous national figures.

Coronavirus: Primary school attendance down on first day of term

Primaries in areas where they were supposed to be fully open saw 74 per cent of pupils attend, compared with 86 per cent of pupils attending primaries in the last week of the previous term.

The DfE's figures also show that a significant number of schools did not open their doors to pupils at all on the first day of term.

Less that half of schools (45 per cent) responded to its data survey on attendance for 4 January.

And of those that did respond, 47 per cent said they were holding an Inset day or a closure that was not related to Covid.

The return to school last week was engulfed by controversy after school staff unions joined forces the weekend before to say that it was not safe for staff to return to work amid escalating Covid rates.

On the morning of Sunday 3 January, prime minister Boris Johnson appeared on television to say that schools were safe and in areas where primaries were reopening, parents should send their children in.

But the new figures show that despite this attendance dropped significantly the next day. 

And that Monday evening Mr Johnson announced that schools would be closing to most pupils and moving to remote learning in a new national lockdown.

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