Commenting on the latest attendance data for education settings published today by the Government showing levels of pupil and staff absence at the start of term, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"It is now abundantly clear that the effects of Omicron on the operation of schools are highly significant. With almost 1 in 20 staff absent due to COVID last Thursday, there is no reason to suppose this will ease soon. London and the south have already seen a significant rise in December, and with the R rate high in the north of England there are ever more compelling arguments to protect the school community with proper mitigations to slow the spread of COVID and thereby ensure that education for children and young people is as uninterrupted as possible and the health and wellbeing of staff and students protected.
'Government needs to act decisively and give schools the equipment they need to ensure proper ventilation in schools and colleges in an attempt to keep COVID infection as low as possible. Relying on a workforce of retired teachers appearing from thin air and in record time is just not enough to meet this challenge.
'These attendance reports must now also return from being fortnightly to weekly, In the same format as before last summer. This is a critical time for schools and colleges and we must see emerging trends quickly rather than in the rear-view mirror."