Top nine areas with the highest number of children off school due to Covid are all in London

·3-min read
London has high numbers of children off school due to Covid  (PA Wire)
London has high numbers of children off school due to Covid (PA Wire)

The nine areas with the highest number of children off school due to Covid before Christmas were in London, according to the latest figures.

Harrow had the highest Covid absence rate in the country, with 10.8 per cent of pupils – more than 1600 youngsters - absent due to the virus. Southwark and Bromley also had rates higher than nine per cent. Of the top ten local authorities with the highest absence rates, nine were in London.

The figures, released by the department for education, provide a snapshot of attendance on December 16 and are the latest data available to illustrate the impact Covid is having in schools in different regions.

They show that before Christmas, absence was worst in London, where 5.1 per cent of all pupils were off school because of Covid. This compares with just 2.6 per cent in the North East and Yorkshire and The Humber.

In total, 34,971 London pupils were off school due to Covid on December 16, the most recent date there is data for.

Staff shortages were also worst in London, with 5.3 per cent of teachers and headteachers in London off due to Covid before Christmas – the highest rate of any region.

Lewisham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, Hillingdon, Waltham Forest and Merton had the next highest absence rates.

National figures show that the number of children off school at the start of this term was higher than before Christmas by almost 15,000.

A total of 315,000 state schools pupils – or 3.9 per cent - were off because of Covid on January 6. Before the Christmas holidays the figure was 301,000 – or 3.7 per cent.

The percentage of teachers off work because of Covid has reached 4.9 per cent, up from three per cent before Christmas.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Any hope that the Christmas holidays would act as a firebreak for schools and colleges have evaporated.”

The figures come amid reports that schools are increasingly using online lessons for absent pupils and to help cover teacher absences.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, has warned that significant staff shortages will have a "significant impact on education".

He said: "Schools are doing a brilliant job to keep things going in the face of very challenging circumstances, but it is very far from business as usual. And the concern is that the situation could worsen over the coming weeks.

"Some of our members have told us that they are already experiencing teaching staff absences of more than 20 per cent, and the Government itself is planning for 25 per cent staff absence rates.”

Borough

Percentage of pupils absent due to Covid on December 16, 2021

Number of pupils absent due to Covid on December 16, 2021

Harrow

10.8

1666

Southwark

9.6

1748

Bromley

9.2

3026

Lewisham

8.8

893

Hammersmith and Fulham

8.2

817

Lambeth

7.5

1596

Hillingdon

7.5

1896

Waltham Forest

7.3

1338

Merton

6.8

1648

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