Attendance and absence
Since 2008/09, attendance rates in Scotland over the course of a whole academic year have been between 93% and 94%. Between 1-18 June 2021, attendance ranged from 84.8% to 90.2%. In the four week period up to 27 June 2021 there were 6,086 COVID-19 cases who reported having visited an educational setting in the 7 days before symptom onset. This is considerably higher than the previous 4 week period up to 30 May (2,150 cases). By the end of June 2021, COVID-19-related pupil absence in Scotland was 8.2% and at the highest rate since school buildings opened fully in April 2021.
Pupil absence due to COVID-19 includes confirmed or suspected cases, as well as pupils self-isolating, pupils whose parents chose to keep them away from school as a precaution and pupils whose schools are closed due to COVID-19. Throughout the 2020/21 school year (excluding those periods when school buildings were fully or partially closed) around 42% of pupils (291,400 children and young people) are estimated to have not been in school due to Covid-19 self-isolation at some point for at least one half day.
To illustrate the breakdown for pupils not in school for COVID-19 related reasons , the situation on 15 June (towards the end of the summer term) was as follows:
- 86.7% were because pupils were self-isolating in relation to COVID-19
- 8.3% were because parent(s) chose to keep pupils away from school as a precautionary measure contrary to public health guidance
- 3.2% were because pupils had a COVID-19 related sickness and
- 1.8% were because schools were closed because of COVID-19
This means that, on 15 June 2021, around 0.9% of total absences were due to pupils who had a COVID-19 related sickness, representing about 0.1% of all school pupils.
The overall absence rate due to COVID-19 rose throughout June. There were rises in each of the underlying reasons for absence. The two largest drivers for the increase were pupils who were absent due to the need to self-isolate and pupils who were absent because parents chose to keep them away from school as a precautionary measure.
The rate of absence due to COVID-related sickness varied by local authority, largely in line with the wider prevalence of the virus in those communities.
Pupils living in more deprived areas were more likely to have a period of Covid-19 self-isolation, and also to have more time out of school in total as a result of this:
- half (50%) of pupils who lived in the most deprived areas of Scotland experienced a spell of self-isolation of at least ½ a school day, compared to only 39% of pupils who lived in the least deprived areas;
- almost three-in-ten (29%) pupils who lived in the most deprived areas of Scotland were not in school throughout the school year for a total of at least one week due to self-isolating, compared to only 17% of pupils who lived in the least deprived areas
- 10% of pupils who lived in the most deprived areas in Scotland were not in school throughout the school year for a total of at least 2 weeks due to self-isolating compared to only 4% of pupils who lived in the least deprived areas
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