First day back in a school in Doncaster

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PA Media

The first official figures for school attendance in England for the autumn term show 88% of pupils went back.

This is a higher absence rate than the usual figure of about 5% but it is not broken down to show whether pupils were at home because of Covid outbreaks.

The figures show attendance last Thursday – but about a quarter of schools did not supply information.

Since the reopening, school leaders have warned that delays in testing are leading to year groups being sent home.

In the run-up to the new term the government called on parents to send their children back to school, with the assurance that safety measures would be in place to protect them from the spread of Covid-19.

There had been speculation that some parents would keep their children at home – but the Department for Education figures show almost nine in 10 returned.

The department also estimates that 92% of all school state schools were fully open.

However, there have been repeated local cases of schools having to send home year groups of pupils, either because of infections or because of problems with getting Covid tests for staff or pupils.

Head teachers have warned that a lack of tests could lead to teacher shortages and force schools into partial closure.

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