Exclusive: Call for probe into lost Covid teacher data

Union calls for official investigation into why the DfE has stopped producing teacher attendance data this term

John Roberts

Coronavirus and schools: The NEU has called for an investigation into why the DfE has not published teacher attendance data this year

Britain's largest teaching union has called for the UK Statistics Authority to investigate why the Department for Education has not published data on teacher attendance this academic year.

The NEU teaching union's joint general secretaries, Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, have questioned why the department has stopped publishing figures for the number of teachers in schools this term, in a letter seen by Tes.

Their call for an investigation follows comments from schools standards minister Nick Gibb, who said that the department was looking at the quality of its teacher attendance data with a view to publishing it.

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The DfE has been publishing weekly attendance data showing how many schools have been affected by Covid, and how many pupils are off on each Thursday of the week.

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The most recent figures showed 876,000 pupils were off through Covid-related reasons.

The general secretaries’ letter sent to the Office for Statistics Regulation says: “We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Department for Education has not published any statistics on teacher attendance this term.

“The department collects the data from schools weekly as part of their survey ‘Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’. 

Last term [before the summer holidays] the department published attendance by teachers and non-teaching staff on a weekly basis.”

The letter also highlights Mr Gibb’s comments and asks for the issues to be investigated.

It adds: “On 21 October, Nick Gibb said: ‘We are currently looking at the quality of the teacher attendance data with a view to publishing as part of the official statistics series,’ in response to a question from Margaret Greenwood MP about teacher attendance.

“We would be grateful if you could investigate exactly what this quality issue is and why it has become such an issue this term, when it was not last.”

The NEU has also called for the UK Statistics Authority to investigate claims that data published by the ONS which was used to show that teachers were no more likely to catch Covid-19 than other key workers was "misleading”.

This complaint was made by University of Cambridge  academic Dr Sarah Rasmussen.




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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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