The Department for Education has finally released data on the impact of coronavirus on the school workforce in “Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak” (1).

The dataset includes the number of teachers and school leaders, teaching assistants and other staff absent with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

Using this data we have been able to calculate an estimate for the rate of coronavirus infection amongst school staff.

The data shows that there are much higher COVID rates of infection amongst teachers and other school staff than for the general population. This finding is in contradiction to the reassurances regularly given by the Department and by Public Health England, including by Dr Jenny Harries giving evidence to the Education Select Committee this morning.

  • On average the rate of COVID infection is 1.9 times higher amongst primary and secondary teachers than the general population. It is 2 times higher for special school teachers.
  • For teaching assistants and other staff, the rate of COVID infection is three times higher in primary schools and almost seven times higher in special schools.

The Government has been collecting this information since early October.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“These shocking figures raise further very serious questions about the handling of coronavirus in schools.

“What investigations have the Department for Education made into these figures?

“Why have the ministers repeatedly told school staff and the public that there was no reason for concern when these figures indicate that there should have been real concern about the much higher COVID infection rates of teachers and other school staff?

“Why did ministers deny clinically extremely vulnerable staff the right to work from home?

“Why has it taken ministers so long to release this data?”

"What mitigating measures will ministers now propose?"


Editors notes  

Full methodology and accompanying data are available below.

Covid and school workforce methodology

Full methodology informing information on Covid-19 in the school workforce


  1. Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
  2. Teachers and school leaders chart 
  3. Teaching assistants and other staff chart 
  4. Spreadsheet