Last term’s Covid caused 10MILLION school days to be missed by children. Labour has called for everyone aged 12-15 to receive vaccines before the new year.

  • Last term, Covid caused a staggering 10 million school days to be missed by children  
  • Labour stressed that only 235,000 days had been lost during the week ending December 9, 
  • Nadhim Zhawi Education Secretary played down the fears about closing schools in the new year 

After Covid isolation meant that 10 million children missed school last year, ministers have been asked to ensure schools reopen in January.

Bridget Phillipson, shadow education secretary, highlighted the shocking number of secondaries and primaries that were missed. She demanded more vaccines for 12-15-year-olds.

According to the most recent statistics, 235,600 were lost due to Covid-related causes – including being told self-isolate on December 9. Only 88.9% attended.

Labour claimed that children are promised a “return to normality” and should be protected with more jabs.

Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary, played down concerns that schools might not return to their regular schedules in the new year.

Sky News told him that he would do all he could to ensure schools remained open. It is vital that young people are educated and attend school.

Phillipson stated that she would like to see an “vaccine guarantee” for all children aged 12-15 years over Christmas.   

Ten million days is 10 million missed opportunities for children and their families to play, learn, and grow together. The promise was made to parents and children for a normal school year.

“Instead, ministers allow the virus to wreck havoc with children’s education. This must stop. 

Nadhim Zahawi

Bridget Phillipson

Nadhim Zahawi (left), said that children had been promised a return to normality and needed more protection through jabs. Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary (right), downplayed the possibility of schools returning in time for the new year.

Children attending class at a primary school in Bedford earlier this year

Bedford primary school children in class earlier in the year

Last week, Zahawi encouraged school leaders and ex-teachers “to sign up” to assist with Covid-19 staff shortfalls.

According to the minister, government was looking into measures that would ‘boost supply’. He added that top officials from Department for Education (DfE), have been discussing potential plans with key stakeholders.

Reports indicate that there are some schools experiencing very low student and teacher attendance ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Unions of head teachers have expressed concern about disruption to in-person classes in the new school year, if Omicron results in even more absences.

School leaders and academy chain chiefs are preparing for the possibility of having to switch to online learning next term – and some pupils have been asked to take laptops home before Christmas just in case.

M. Zahawi sent an email to college and school leaders before the Christmas break. He stated: “We know that supply staff can become a problem in places with high levels of absence.” It is our goal to ensure that schools and colleges have access to as much supply staff as we can.

The Education Secretary said: “We will collaborate with sector leaders, supply agencies over these coming days to offer advice for ex-teachers looking to support schools or colleges.

“We will assist them in registering with supply agencies to increase the number of temporary workers available for the sector.”

Mr Zahawi made a plea for heads Thursday. He said, “In the appeal to heads, you can now support this effort through your personal and professional networks to encourage others sign up to provide temporary aid.”

In addition, the DfE announced that it would extend its workforce fund to schools and colleges with the most funding and staffing challenges in Covid-19 until the February half-term.

The latest DfE data showed that 24% of school leaders and teachers were absent in schools England because Covid-19 was a reason for their absence on December 9. This is up from 2.0% as reported on November 25,

Labour and the education unions have both warned that government actions won’t be enough to fix the staff shortage problem.

Bridget Phillipson, Labour’s Labour Secretary for Education says it is time to stop children “yo-yoing” in and out class

For our students and all school employees, we are in for another challenging winter. This new version is much more easily transmitted. This poses a danger to your health as well as the possibility of teacher shortages.

The problem continues and gets worse. Even worse, the chaos resulting from this new version is on top of the already long absences of children from school and their time away from teachers and friends.

Schoolchildren missed more than 10 million face-to-face days this autumn. This is in addition to the inconvenience that parents have to miss work, family trips, birthdays, and sports matches. Our children cannot be allowed to suffer from the disruptions of school life and lose opportunities that could have helped them in their childhoods.

As with many families in the United States, I fear the thought of returning to distant schooling. It is important for children to attend school. I also understand the desire of parents to see their kids happy playing with and learning alongside each other.

This is why I believe the government should get ahead of the virus and not try to catch up. 

Although it’s December in England, windows are still open at schools across the country. Children in small groups have been wrapped in blankets and learning in their classrooms. Why? It was because the government did not act when it was hot and put ventilation systems in school buildings, as suggested last year.

Ministers should use the Christmas holiday to prepare for the flu and to provide vaccine guarantees to all children aged 12-15 years. The vaccines will be available to everyone before next term starts. 

The Ministers should also take action to end the anti-vaccination demonstrations that children are subject to at school. They must create exclusion zones, protect them from misinformation and abuse.

But this term didn’t see secondary school students absent. Primary school children missed over 5.3 million days, which means they are missing the foundations of future learning.

Parents, teachers and students must all be able to test their capacity.

Each child must be in school with effective and real measures to decrease transmission. We cannot accept the fact that schools close for millions of school days every day.