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10th of all teaching staff in England were absent in the first week of February, new figures show

NEARLY a 10th of all teaching staff in England were absent in the first week of February, new figures revealed today.

Teaching unions warned that the official figures showed that absence levels are still piling enormous pressures on schools.

The Department of Education (DfE) estimated that 9.1 per cent of teachers were off work on February 3, a new record.

This compares with 9 per cent on January 20. 

Covid-related absences among teaching staff fell slightly from 4.5  to 4.4 per cent during the same period, the DfE said. 

Absence rates for pupils also fell, with 320,000 pupils off school for Covid-related reasons on February 3, down from 321,800 on January 20.

But pupil absences remain far higher than levels seen in early January, when there were 159,000 pupils absent with confirmed cases of Covid-19. 

Headteachers’ union ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton stressed that in some regions, the proportion of staff absences last week stood as high as 15 per cent. 

“It is good to see that the number of students missing from schools last week fell, but the major headache for many education leaders remains one of trying to plug the gaps left by having almost a 10th of their teaching staff absent,” he said.

He added that the latest attendance statistics “bear witness to absence levels that continue to pile enormous pressure on schools.”

“The government needs to acknowledge that this issue is not going away and provide schools with sufficient financial assistance to meet this costly drain on their budgets,” he said.

With just a few months to go till examination season, National Education Union joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said that it was “incumbent upon government to ensure this period of learning is as uninterrupted as possible.”


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