Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 27th November 2020.

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Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools are partially closed as a result of a lack of available teachers or support staff in England.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department no longer produces information for schools which are partially closed. The Education Settings Status questionnaire was reviewed on the 12 October to ensure the questions were pertinent to supporting policy whilst considering the increased burden on schools.

The Department collects data on the number of schools that have indicated that they have sent children home due to COVID-19 containment measure. Published information is available at the following link: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

On 12 November, approximately 29% of state-funded schools reported that they had one or more pupils self-isolating who had been asked to do so due to potential contact with a case of COVID-19 inside the school. A smaller proportion (18 to 20%) had 30 or more pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school.

Schools remain open during the period of the new national restrictions. Where schools implement the system of controls outlined in the published schools guidance, in line with their own workplace risk assessment, Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirm that these measures create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.

As a result, on current evidence, PHE and DHSC advise that schools are not currently considered high risk settings when compared to other workplace environments.

It is therefore appropriate for teachers and other school staff to attend the workplace. Accordingly, we expect that staff – apart from the clinically extremely vulnerable who should work from home during the period of national restrictions – will attend school.

The Department’s guidance for schools on full opening sets out the options available for schools seeking to manage staffing capacity as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to using supply teachers and other temporary or peripatetic teachers, schools can also consider using existing staff more flexibly, including support staff and ITT trainees, or volunteers, as would usually be the case. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

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