Attendances at schools on the island have recently returned to the average numbers seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is according to Julie Edge, the Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, who claimed that attendances dropped following the final lockdown but that in 2023 they returned to usual levels.

Ms Edge was asked about attendances by MHK for Arbory, Rushen and Castletown, Jason Moorhouse, during this month’s Tynwald sitting on Tuesday (January 16).

Mr Moorhouse asked: ‘What changes have there been since March 2020 in attendance levels at your department’s schools?’

Ms Edge said: ‘I think it should be noted that I cannot provide figures for March 2021, due to the island being in a national lockdown and no schools being open.

‘In March 2020, the average attendance figure was 92.49. This number decreased in 2022, as the average figure was 89.15, but March 2023 saw an increase up to an average of 92.2.

Ms Edge went on to confirm that her department employs attendance officers who look at these attendance figures across all island schools.

She said: ‘Anything of significance will be discussed by the officers in the department and with head teachers of certain schools.’

The amount of children who are now being home-schooled on the island was also discussed, with Ms Edge stating that following Covid-19 ‘some parents chose to do things differently’.

She said: ‘There has been a slight increase in the number of children who haven’t returned to school following the pandemic.

‘With regards to home-schooling, we understand from parents’ point of view that following Covid-19 and lockdowns they are choosing to do things differently. We completely respect that.

‘Although those being home-schooled are not on a school register, we do support and provide for these children. Every child who is being educated on the island deserves our support, whether they are at a school or not.’