Commenting on attendance in education settings to 23 July, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

"While attention has been paid to test and trace and the sending home of bubbles, the rates of absence in schools are really down to one thing: the Government's inability to control spiralling case numbers of COVID-19. 

"Many hot spots around the country, such as in the north east, have markedly higher absence rates. This disproportionately affects disadvantaged children and their families, and has consequences for their life chances. In cases such as South Tyneside and Liverpool, attendance has been below 60% for three weeks.  

"Yet throughout this time Gavin Williamson stood by and did nothing. He took away safety measures and allowed self-testing to continue at desultory levels. 

"The Government must learn from their sorry record this term. They must move now to announce what mitigations will be in place for September around mass testing, improvements to ventilation and testing of close contacts of children who have Covid. The absence of a Plan A, let alone a Plan B, is rightly alarming to school and college leaders and their staff. 

"Looking beyond September, the Government needs also to commit to properly funding education recovery. This must include the £15bn as recommended by Sir Kevan Collins. Our children deserve nothing less."