Schools across England have been getting into the spirit of the Euro 2020 championship, with some allowing pupils a lie-in on Monday following the final.
Children have been allowed to wear football shirts, or the colours of their team, at a number of schools on Friday ahead of England’s game against Italy at Wembley on Sunday evening.
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.
England’s chief schools inspector has said she does not want pupils to miss out on education due to the final.
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, told the PA news agency: “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?”
Already a number of schools have said they will allow pupils to start later on Monday if they want to.
Speaking at the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) annual conference, Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman told PA: “I very much hope that every school will teach a full day on Monday.
“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.”
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, seen by PA, 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.
“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.”
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 told PA: “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, telling PA: “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 Passmores Academy in Harlow in Essex, pupils have been played football songs like Three Lions as they left school.
Vic Goddard, co-principal of Passmores Academy, told PA: “We are not giving them any time off on Monday as they have missed lots of time already and for some the football remains quite irrelevant.”
At Stratford upon Avon School in Warwickshire catering staff have been serving England-themed lunches and dressing up in Harry Kane masks.
On Friday, around 1,000 pupils at the school will line up to form the words “It’s Coming Home” on an all-weather football pitch ahead of the final.
School head Neil Wallace told PA: “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.”