Schools ‘teetering on the edge’ as Covid keeps workers away

·1-min read
Students wearing face masks in the classroom (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)
Students wearing face masks in the classroom (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)

More than a third of school leaders are experiencing staff absence levels of over 10 per cent due to Covid-19 related reasons, a survey suggests.

Almost all schools have pupils off for Covid-19-related reasons at the start of term, according to the snap poll by school leaders’ union NAHT.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, has warned that schools are “teetering on the edge” with “considerable” shortages, adding that absences due to illness may “very likely rise” during the term.

A total of 36 per cent of heads said they had more than 10 per cent of their total school staff absent on the first day of term due to Covid-19-related reasons, while 27 per cent said they had more than 10 per cent of their teaching staff off, according to the survey.

The findings came as pupils are returning to class this week after the Christmas break, with new advice for secondary school and college students in England to wear face coverings in classrooms.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has admitted that staff absences are likely to rise in schools in the weeks ahead with increasing Covid-19 cases.

Last month, the minister called on former teachers to return to the classroom as part of efforts to tackle staff shortages.

Ahead of the start of term, the Department for Education (DfE) told headteachers they may want to consider “combining classes” in the event of staff shortages to keep face-to-face teaching in place.

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