Disadvantaged and ethnic minority pupils and children with SEND missed more lessons due to Covid than other pupils in the autumn 2020 term, new data reveals.
New statistics released by the Department for Education show how the percentage of sessions recorded as "not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus" (this includes pupils self-isolating and shielding) varied across different groups of pupils between September and Christmas last year.
The findings come after the DfE confirmed that school isolation rules in England could be brought to an end this autumn, amid concerns about the rising number of children who are having to quarantine because they are the contacts of confirmed Covid cases.
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Pupils eligible for free school meals were recorded as not attending 8.5 per cent of sessions (a full morning or afternoon of lessons) in circumstances related to coronavirus, compared with 6.6 per cent for their peers who were not eligible for FSM.
Covid: Disadvantaged, SEND and ethnic minority pupils miss most lessons
Pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan were recorded as not attending a similar percentage of sessions due to the coronavirus as FSM pupils (8.6 per cent), while those with SEN support had a lower percentage of missed lessons, 7.4 per cent. The percentage of missed sessions for pupils with no SEN was 6.8 per cent.
Finally, while across all pupils the percentage of sessions missed due to Covid was 7 per cent, some ethnic groups were more affected than others.
Pupils of the Gypsy/Roma and Pakistani ethnic groups had the highest rates of sessions recorded as not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus in autumn 2020, at 10.9 per cent and 10.8 per cent respectively.
Pupils of the Chinese ethnic group had the lowest rate at 6.1 per cent.