Secondary attendance as low as 14% in DfE threats week

Data reveals just how low attendance was in the last week of term as the DfE issued legal threats to keep schools open
12th January 2021, 12:46pm
John Roberts

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Secondary attendance as low as 14% in DfE threats week

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/secondary-attendance-low-14-dfe-threats-week
Coronavirus: Secondary School Attendance Fell As Low As 14 Per Cent In The Last Week Of Term, As The Dfe Issued Legal Threats To Keep Schools Open, New Figures Show

Secondary school attendance plummeted - to just 14 per cent in one area - as the Covid crisis engulfed schools in the final week of term, new figures reveal.

The latest official data shows how attendance dropped in areas of London and the South East of England in the week that the Department for Education issued legal threats to force schools to stay open.

Councils had asked the government to allow schools to move lessons online as the new variant of the coronavirus spread. 


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Background: DfE orders council to back down and keep schools open

Comment: The DfE risks a long dark legacy by threatening schools


The DfE issued legal letters to stop this from happening. But now the department's own figures reveal that attendance dropped in that last week before Christmas anyway.

Coronavirus: Legal threats to keep schools open

Figures for 16 December show that in Thurrock secondary school attendance was 14 per cent, in Redbridge it was 17 per cent, in Havering it was 24 per cent and in Kent it was 34 per cent.

In Greenwich, where on 14 December the council was given a legal direction from the government to abandon plans to move its schools online, only 44 per cent of secondary school students and 50 per cent of primary pupils were in attendance two days later.

Nationally, more than a fifth of pupils were off school in the last week of term.

The latest figures published today show that attendance in state schools on 16 December was 79 per cent, down from 85 per cent a week earlier.

At secondary schools, more than a quarter of students were off - with attendance at 72 per cent - while primary school attendance was 86 per cent.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Schools, colleges and early years settings across the country worked extremely hard to remain open throughout the autumn term, implementing safety measures and providing remote education where children were self-isolating.  

"We are now keeping schools and colleges open to critical worker and vulnerable children, and those protective measures remain in place to help protect staff and students, while the national lockdown helps reduce transmission in the wider community.

"Schools are restricting attendance during this lockdown period not because they are 'unsafe', but because the government is taking every possible measure to reduce cases in the community and protect the NHS.

"They are providing pupils with online lessons in line with strengthened minimum standards of remote learning."

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