Children missed 10 million days of school due to last term of Covid as Labor calls on all 12-15 year olds to get their vaccinations by New Year
- Children missed a shocking 10 million school days due to COVID-19 last semester
- The Labor Party indicated that 235,000 days were lost in the week ending December 9 alone
- Education Minister Nadim Zahawi played down fears of closure in the new year
Ministers face calls to ensure schools reopen in January after children missed 10 million days of school due to last term’s Covid lockdown.
Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson highlighted the shocking toll of missed face-to-face lessons in the primary and secondary elections as she called for faster progress in getting vaccines to 12-15-year-olds.
The latest figures show that 235,600 days were lost due to Covid-related causes – such as being told to self-isolate – on December 9 alone, with 88.9 per cent of pupils attending.
The labor organization said the children had been promised a “return to normal life” and should be given more protection with punches.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Nadim Al-Zahawi played down the possibility that schools may not return as scheduled in the new year.
“I will do everything in my power to keep schools open,” he told Sky News. “It is very important for the health and mental health of young people to be in school and of course to educate them.”
Ms Phillipson said she wanted to see a “vaccine guarantee” so that all 12 to 15-year-olds could get vaccinations over the Christmas holidays.
Ten million days represents 10 million missed opportunities for children to learn, play and develop together. Children and parents have been promised to return to normal life in the new school year.
Instead, ministers continue to allow the virus to wreak havoc on children’s education. Action is required now to prevent this from continuing.
Nadim al-Zahawi (left) said the children had been promised to “return to normal life” and should be given more protection with punches. Meanwhile, Education Minister Nadim Al-Zahawi (right) played down the possibility that schools may not return as scheduled in the new year.
Children attend a class at a primary school in Bedford earlier this year
Last week, Al-Zahawi called on school leaders to encourage former teachers to “register” to help with the Covid-19 staff shortage.
The minister said the government is studying measures to be taken to “enhance supply capacity,” adding that senior officials in the Department of Education (DfE) have begun discussing plans with key stakeholders.
There have been reports that some schools are seeing a “very sharp drop in attendance” among teachers and pupils ahead of the Christmas holidays.
School principals’ unions have warned of the potential for disruption to in-person tutoring in the new year if the Omicron variant increases employee absenteeism.
School leaders and heads of academies chain are preparing for the prospect of having to switch to online learning next term – and some pupils have been asked to take their laptops home before Christmas in anticipation.
“We know that in areas with significant absenteeism, a particular problem can be the availability of supply staff,’ Al-Zahawi said in an email to school and college leaders ahead of the Christmas holidays. We want to make sure that schools and colleges have as many supply staff as possible.
The Minister of Education added: “We will be working with sector leaders and supply agencies over the coming days to advise former teachers who wish to provide support to schools and colleges.
“We will help them register with supply agencies as the best way to boost the temporary workforce available for this sector.”
“From now on, you can support this effort by using your professional and personal networks to encourage others to sign up to provide temporary assistance,” Zahawi said in an appeal to chiefs on Thursday.
The DfE also announced that it will expand its workforce funding for schools and colleges facing the biggest recruitment and funding challenges amid Covid-19 to half the term in February.
It comes after the latest DfE figures showed that 2.4 per cent of teachers and school leaders were absent from schools in England due to Covid-19-related reasons on 9 December, up from 2.0 per cent on 25 November.
But education and labor unions have warned that government measures are “unlikely” to be enough to solve the problem with staff shortages.
Labour’s Bridget Phillipson says: “Stop children in and out of class
We are facing another difficult winter for our children and everyone who works in schools. The new variant is more portable. It poses not only a health hazard but also a risk of teacher shortage and the presence of children in and out of the classroom due to the requirements of self-isolation.
This happens all the time and every time it gets worse. Even worse, any chaos caused by the new format comes on top of all the time kids already spend outside of school, away from friends and teachers.
This fall, schoolchildren missed more than 10 million days of face-to-face learning with all the disruption this causes, from parents having to stay home from work to school trips, friends’ birthdays or missed sports matches. We can’t keep watching as our children’s learning is turned upside down and they miss out on the childhood experiences that should make them last a lifetime.
Along with families across the country, the idea of returning to distance education fills me with dread. I understand how important it is for children to be in school and how much parents want to see them play and learn happily with their friends.
That’s why I want the government to get ahead of the virus and not try hard to catch up.
It’s December, but windows have been opened in classrooms across England, with young children wrapped in coats to learn. why? Because the government failed to act while the sun was shining and put ventilation systems into schools as recommended last year.
It is critical for ministers to use the Christmas holidays to beat the virus, to offer a vaccine guarantee so that all 12-15-year-olds can get their vaccinations before the start of the next term, and to expand the vaccine shield to as many people as possible.
It is also time for ministers to stamp out the dangerous anti-vaccination protests against out-of-school children by bringing in exclusion zones and protecting children from abuse and misinformation.
However, this term not only saw the high school disciples outside the classroom. Primary school children have missed 5.3 million days of school, and they have lost the foundations upon which future learning will be built.
Adequate testing capacity and testing should be available to parents, children, and school staff to help stop the spread of disease.
I want every child to be in the classroom, taking real, effective steps to reduce transmission in every community. There can be no admission more than missing millions of days even when schools are open.