The Education Policy Institute (EPI) has published a report on school attendance rates across the UK since reopening. It shows that in areas with the highest rates of the virus, such as the North West of England, as many as four in ten pupils were unable to attend school during October. Other areas have seen almost all of their pupils attending. The research finds a link between areas with higher levels of deprivation and low school attendance levels.
EPI argues that the Department for Education should publish more data on local school attendance rates, as some areas with lower virus rates also saw very low secondary school attendance. It states that it is a “major source of concern” that evidence suggests disadvantaged pupils are more likely to have received less formal schooling during the autumn term, coupled with the face that poorer pupils are likely to have lost more learning time during the lockdown in spring. EPI adds that this is especially concerning given that its research showed the disadvantage gap in school attainment had stopped narrowing even before the pandemic.
The research also found that some of the most vulnerable pupils, including those with SEND, have also seen low attendance rates. Special schools had attendance rates of 91% in Scotland, 88% in Northern Ireland and just 78% in England during the autumn term. EPI argues that this highlights the importance of providing extra support for SEND pupils, with its own research showing that UK nations “failed to adequately support children with SEND during the pandemic.”
You can read the full report here.