Commenting on the latest school attendance figures from Government, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"With almost most half of secondary schools and one in six primary schools affected by positive COVID cases and having to send children home, it is clearly time that action is taken to prevent this situation escalating even more out of control. The Government cannot turn away from this data.
'The NEU has supported calls for a two-week circuit breaker over half term both to enable Government to get control of trace track and test and to lower the infection rate making it easier for the system to cope. The Government urgently needs to look at this and at other ways of reducing transmission in schools.
'Increasing numbers of pupils and whole year bubbles having to isolate is causing a great deal of disruption to children and young people's education and is making the Government's decision to stick to end of year GCSE and A level examinations, with the only change being a 3-week delay ever more untenable. It needs to relook both at next year's exams and the equally untenable suggestion that SATs will go ahead as usual.
'The Government must of course also guarantee the expansion of free school meals and holiday food provision for the disadvantaged during any such circuit breaker as well as during the half term holiday.
'Acting now could reduce the levels of disruption in the coming months and enable schools and colleges to operate in the most effective way possible".