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Pupils: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL8701, tabled on 5 October 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many students at (1) secondary schools, (2) sixth forms, and (3) University Technical Colleges, did not attend in the week ending 2 October because they were isolating or quarantined; and how many of those students had access to a computer and an internet connection to facilitate remote learning.

Answered on

19 October 2020

Keeping close track of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases in schools is a priority for the government. Public Health England (PHE) leads in holding data on infection, incidence and COVID-19 cases overall. PHE have published data on COVID-19 incidents by institution, including educational settings. This data can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-covid-19-surveillance-reports.

The department is currently collecting data from schools on a daily basis, as well as gathering information from local areas and following up with individual settings to confirm that procedures requiring pupils to isolate are well understood and that necessary decisions are made on the basis of public health advice.

The department collects data on the number of schools that have indicated that they have either sent children home due to COVID-19 containment measures or have staff shortages due to COVID-19 related absences, and have attendance data for schools that have done so. We are currently looking at the quality of that data with a view to publishing it as part of the official statistics series. The series includes published data on school openings and attendance, which shows that at a national level approximately 93% of state-funded schools were fully open on 1 October. Of all schools that responded to the survey, 7% said they were not fully open due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on 1 October. Equivalent estimates have not been made at phase level. Approximately 90% of all children on roll in all state-funded schools were in attendance on 1 October. More information is available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

During the summer term, the department delivered over 220,000 laptops and tablets, and over 50,000 4G wireless routers, for disadvantaged children in year 10, as well as children with a social worker and care leavers who would not otherwise have had online access, as part of over £160 million invested to support remote education and access to online social care.

The department is now supplementing this support by making 250,000 additional laptops and tablets available in the event that face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions and children become reliant on remote education. This scheme is intended to enable schools to support disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 who cannot afford their own laptops and tablets. Schools will also be able to order laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children across all year groups who are shielding as a result of official or medical advice, all year groups who attend hospital schools and those completing their key stage 4 at a further education college.