Schools across England are getting into the spirit of the Euro 2020 championship, with some allowing pupils a lie-in on Monday so they can recover from late nights watching Sunday's final which will see England take on Italy at Wembley.
Children were also allowed to wear football shirts, or the colours of their team, at a number of schools today (Friday) ahead of England’s historic match.
But Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has cautioned against allowing pupils to miss out on education because of the match.
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School leaders are expecting possible absences on Monday morning after pupil attendance reportedly dropped in some schools on Thursday after England beat Denmark in extra-time.
What a fabulous week it's been for all at #TeamCastleway! Mr. Mycroft's #FridayUpdate includes information about an optional late start on Monday because (hopefully) #ItsComingHome and the introduction of the #PupilOfTheYear award! Read more here: https://t.co/WVDsVAE0s7 pic.twitter.com/LkVh0YaVS7
— Castleway Primary School #WeAreCastleway (@CastlewaySchool) July 9, 2021
One secondary school in South Yorkshire saw a threefold increase in the number of unexplained absences on Thursday, rising from around 20 last week to 66 the morning after the semi-final.
Pepe Di’Iasio, vice president of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and head of Wales High School near Sheffield, said: “Our attendance is usually very good, it’s well above national average.
“But we had triple the amount of unknown absences, undeclared absences, than we would have on a normal day.
“That may not be down to the England game alone, it may be down to the pandemic, but certainly our attendance team are reporting that they had to make more calls than normal for this time of year.
“I suppose what that does is it makes me think: did the England game going on so late have an impact? Will that have an impact on Monday morning?”
However, speaking at the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) annual conference, Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman said she hoped that children would not miss out on education after enjoying "a great football game on Sunday".
“I very much hope that every school will teach a full day on Monday," she said.
“If a school starts a bit later and finishes a bit later then that’s something they are absolutely entitled to do if it works for their parent group.
“But at the end of the day, I don’t want to see children missing out on education. Let’s hope we can enjoy a great football game on Sunday without losing children’s education in the process.”
Already a number of schools have said they will allow pupils to start later on Monday if they want to.
Gemma Donnelly, head of Braywick Court School in Bray, Berkshire, has told parents that children will not be marked as late if they are in by 10.30am.
In a letter to families, Mrs Donnelly said: “This gives you the option to stay up late and watch the match, or watch it in the morning before coming to school if you would like to.”
Ingleby Mill Primary School in Stockton tweeted: “If your child is a football fan and likely to be staying up until after 11pm on Sunday to watch the Final, then let them stay in bed a bit longer and get to school by 10.30am on Monday.
If your child is a football fan and likely to be staying up until after 11pm on Sunday to watch the Final, then let them stay in bed a bit longer and get to school by 10.30am on Monday.— Ingleby Mill Primary (@InglebyMill) July 9, 2021
School will still start at 8:30 – 9.00 but children arriving up to 10.30 won’t be marked late
“School will still start at 8.30 – 9.00 but children arriving up to 10.30 won’t be marked late.”
Sandringham School, a secondary in St Albans, Hertfordshire, tweeted: “It’s not often we qualify for a major football final so to ensure everyone gets to enjoy it – school will start 1 hr late on Monday morning (12th). Students should arrive at 9.20 for session 2. #ComeOnEngland.”
It’s not often we qualify for a major football final so to ensure everyone gets to enjoy it - school will start 1 hr late on Monday morning (12th) Students should arrive at 9.20 for session 2. #ComeOnEngland pic.twitter.com/GX1CK97W25— Sandringham School (@SandringhamSch1) July 9, 2021
Mr Di’Iasio said: “I would expect as a headteacher everyone to come to school on Monday morning and to enjoy the last week.
“And, you know, there may be lots of reasons why students are unable to come to school on any day of the week, but I would hope that everyone would love to be here on Monday.”
Pupils at his school are being allowed on Friday to wear a football shirt, or the colours of the team that they support, to mark England getting to the final.
He said: “There has been a real mood in the school to support the England team, and actually it comes at a really good time because it’s been such a tough year, such a difficult year, that I think it’s a positive way to look to end the school year.”
But Mr Di’Iasio – who is half Italian and half English – is personally torn about the final, saying: “Friends keep saying to me you can’t lose, but the way I see it is I can’t win. Because whoever wins I will feel bad.”
At Stratford upon Avon School in Warwickshire catering staff have been serving England-themed lunches and dressing up in Harry Kane masks.
Our patriotic canteen staff are preparing their England pizzas in time for break today!! 🦁🦁🦁 pic.twitter.com/lkeUgwCM69— StratfordUponAvonsch (@StraUponAvonSch) July 7, 2021
On Friday, around 1,000 pupils at the school lined-up to form the words “It’s Coming Home” on an all-weather football pitch ahead of the final.
Our special guests were serving the pre-match meal today. pic.twitter.com/IzKyKMZJXT— StratfordUponAvonsch (@StraUponAvonSch) July 9, 2021
School head Neil Wallace said: “It puts a spring in everybody’s step after what’s been a really challenging year and it’s lovely to have something to put a smile on people’s faces and unite behind.
“Lunchtimes in the canteen you see sometimes students burst into song with ‘It’s coming home’ when they’ve seen it, and they’ve come in with a nice little spring in their step, and we’re looking at finishing the week on a high and sending everybody home ready for what will hopefully be a great weekend.”
And even the very youngest pupils have joined in the festivities, with students at Nunthorpe Primary in Middlesbrough performing David Baddiel and Frank Skinner's 1996 classic "Three Lions" on their xylophones, scoring a retweet from Mr Baddiel, who described it as "the cutest sound ever".
This is the cutest sound ever. https://t.co/wSowzC9BEH— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) July 9, 2021