Commenting on the latest statistics from the Department for Education on attendance in schools, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

"The rise in pupil absence is a reminder that Covid-19 is still with us, still disrupting education and still affecting the health of education staff. Pupil absences have risen by over 50% in the past four weeks: more than one in eight pupils are now off school, while staff absences have also risen significantly.

'The current high absence figures are causing further disruption to pupils’ education as they try to catch up on missed learning before the end of the academic year. Catchup funding has never come close to reaching the levels recommended by the Government’s own Covid recovery tsar Sir Kevan Collins, and the current wave of infection and absence risks some pupils being left further behind as they head towards the summer break.

'Government efforts to improve ventilation in classrooms remain woefully inadequate. The current Covid wave is occurring during mid-summer, when classroom windows are open and still the absence rate is high. This is a wake-up call: if the next Covid wave arrives in winter, transmission and sickness levels are likely to be much worse unless the DfE gets its act together and properly funds adequate ventilation in all classrooms."