375,000 UK pupils absent over Covid-19 as school absences at its highest peak since March return

·3-min read
375,000 UK pupils absent over Covid-19 as school absences at its peak (PA Wire)
375,000 UK pupils absent over Covid-19 as school absences at its peak (PA Wire)

The number of children off school is at its highest level since schools reopened in March, new government figures show.

Department of Education revealed 375,000 children did not attend school for Covid-19 related reasons in new data.

Around 5.1 per cent of all kids in state-funded schools were absent from school because of coronavirus-related reasons on June 24.

Absences in schools have been on the rise as 3.3 per cent of children didn’t attend on June 17 and 1.2 per cent of kids were not attending school on June 10.

In comparison, 4.5 per cent of kids did not attend their primary schools in the UK for reasons relating to coronavirus on June 24.

This also has been on the steady increase, having previously had 2.7 per cent of children not attend school on June 17 and 1.1 per cent of schoolkids absent on June 10.

It comes as school isolation rules in England could come to an end this autumn after concerns about the rising number of children who have to quarantine because they have been in contact with confirmed cases.

England’s children’s commissioner told the Telegraph bubbles should be scrapped “as soon as possible”.

Absences in schools have been on the rise (PA Archive)
Absences in schools have been on the rise (PA Archive)

Dame Rachel de Souza said there was an urgent need for children to get back to normal as lockdown restrictions had been a “real trauma” for many young people.

She added that the need for children to go in and out of isolation was “a really big issue” and was proving “incredibly frustrating” for pupils and teachers.

“With bubbles, I think everybody would like it if we could get back to normal, as soon as possible.

“Obviously we have to be safe, and we have to take advice, but it’s very very restrictive,” she said.

Department of Education revealed 375,000 children did not attend school for Covid-19 related reasons in new data (PA Archive)
Department of Education revealed 375,000 children did not attend school for Covid-19 related reasons in new data (PA Archive)

“The experience of lockdown has been a real trauma, and I think we shouldn’t underestimate it. Children are really troubled, and it’s right across the board.”

Currently, children have to self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble tests positive for coronavirus.

It has resulted in a sharp rise in pupils off school for Covid-related reasons, with the latest official figures showing 239,000 children in England missing classes.

Figures for June 17 showed that in England alone, 172,000 were self-isolating due to possible contact with a positive pupil in school.

Dame Rachel said young people, who had seen their normal childhood disrupted in order to protect older people, were now struggling with their mental health.

In comparison, 4.5 per cent of kids did not attend their primary schools in the UK for reasons relating to coronavirus on June 24 (PA Archive)
In comparison, 4.5 per cent of kids did not attend their primary schools in the UK for reasons relating to coronavirus on June 24 (PA Archive)

"They have done a huge amount for us, I mean they really were the least at risk of this and they’ve given up 19 weeks of their education, they’ve had all this anxiety and concern and exams cancelled; they’ve taken a big burden for us," she said.

Her warning came as official figures on Monday showed another rise in infections with almost 23,000 lab-confirmed cases - the highest daily rise since January 30.

They came amid continuing concerns over the spread of the Delta variant with Portugal, Spain, Malta and Hong Kong announcing new restrictions on travellers from the UK.

Despite the increase, new Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there was "no reason" why the final stage of lockdown lifting in England should not go ahead as planned.

In a Commons statement, he said the country would have to " learn to live with" the disease as there was no "zero risk" option.

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