Commenting on the latest statistics from the Department for Education on attendance in education settings, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"The rise in Covid cases in schools in England is extremely worrying. Over 100,000 pupils were absent last week with a confirmed case, two-thirds of them in secondary schools.
'Despite its promises, the Government has not done enough to slow the spread through measures such as mask wearing, roll-out of carbon dioxide monitors and improved ventilation. As the weather turns and it becomes harder to leave classroom windows open, the Government’s continued failure to improve ventilation in schools leaves staff and pupils needlessly exposed to higher risks of illness and further disruption to education.
'In Scotland, by comparison, infection rates and absences among children have fallen for three weeks. Almost a quarter of 12-15 year olds are now vaccinated in Scotland, compared to just one in 14 in England. Secondary school pupils are asked to wear face masks, and pupils with a confirmed Covid case in Scotland are also asked to undertake a PCR test before returning to school. The Government should consider adopting this approach in England and further pushing vaccine rollout to slow the spread, alongside stepping up other mitigation measures".