The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a steep increase in school absences among children in England, according to councils. Budget pressures have led to cuts in school support staff, which has resulted in some schools “managing” students out of classrooms or disguising attendance records. Evidence presented to MPs on the Commons education select committee suggests that some parents are now more cautious about sending their children to school with minor ailments as a result of public health messaging during the pandemic. Anxiety and lack of mental health support are cited as key drivers behind the increase in absences. The latest attendance data from the Department for Education revealed that absences in the spring term this year were still 50% higher than before the pandemic. In 2021-22, more than one in five secondary pupils were “persistently absent” for missing 10% or more of sessions. The LGA has said schools have been forced to make cuts in pastoral support, making it harder to encourage vulnerable children to attend.