As primary schools reopened their doors to certain year groups today, attendance among eligible pupils was between 40 per cent and 70 per cent.
That’s according to heads’ union the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which said that many schools were bringing in staff first in order to carry out training and preparation before phasing in the eligible year groups (Reception, Year 1 and Year 6).
ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton said: “Our early impression is that the picture on the wider opening of primary schools is very mixed, according to a range of factors, such as different approaches by local authorities, constraints on the space available in schools to accommodate eligible pupils while implementing the safety protocols, and the availability of staff.
“This means some schools will not open this week, and there will be schools that are simply unable to bring in all the eligible year groups, that is Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
Coronavirus: Attendance 'will increase with schools open again'
“Caution is the watchword, and everybody is approaching this task with the safety of pupils and staff as their absolute priority.
“The expected level of pupil attendance is also highly variable, and we are hearing that it ranges anywhere between around 40 per cent and 70 per cent of the eligible pupils."
Meanwhile, new research shows that dozens of local authorities across the country have advised schools not to participate in wider reopenings today.
However, the ASCL said it is likely that attendance will increase as time goes on and more parents become confident about sending their children to school.
Mr Barton added: “School leaders are also reporting that they are seeing an increase in the number of key worker children who are attending across all year groups.
"Schools have remained open to vulnerable and key worker children throughout the lockdown period, and as the lockdown eases, it is likely this will lead to greater demand for places.
"This will be extremely challenging for primary schools to accommodate, particularly small primary schools, in addition to bringing in the eligible year groups.”