Primary attendance well over 90% as pupils return to Islington schools

Islington Town Hall

Islington Town Hall - Credit: Ken Mears 

Attendance at primary schools across Islington has been “absolutely fantastic” since pupils returned to classrooms following lockdown, according to council officers.

At the children’s services scrutiny meeting on March 9, Cllr Vivien Cutler spoke of her joy at hearing “lots of children running around very gleefully”.

Officers are still awaiting the statistics for secondary school pupils as testing takes place ahead of full returns.

Teething problems include a feeling that schools are “becoming like clinics” with the introduction of lateral flow testing, as well as complaints of parents breaching social distancing regulations at the gates.

The town hall’s head of pupil services, Candy Holder, said: “We haven’t got the complete picture, but those schools we have spoken to are seeing absolutely fantastic numbers. One school this morning had 99.7 per cent attendance. One child had not come into school who was unwell.

“We are in the upper-90s for most of our schools at the moment, so we’re very, very pleased, and it’s really encouraging news so far.

“We know that in special schools, young children not coming in are clinically extremely vulnerable so can’t come in. It has been an absolutely fantastic response, and being in the upper-90s is amazing, so very pleased.”

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While national concern had focused on the transmission of the virus within schools ahead of the return on March 8, councillors say the main issue locally is parents not observing social distancing guidelines just outside the gates.

Cllr Phil Graham said: “Whereas kids coming out are behaving themselves, parents are standing around having a good natter, and they are upsetting the residents."

Responding to criticism relayed by Cllr John Woolf that the testing regime has made schools “feel they are becoming like clinics”, children’s boss Cllr Michelline Safi Ngongo said: “We just had a meeting with young people, and they say they do not like to be tested and give different reasons.

“Our approach is really to motivate them, and for us as a local authority to provide anything that the school and young people need.

“It is not an easy period at all, but we have to find a solution and way for us to resolve it.”

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