Thousands of North Staffordshire pupils had to self-isolate during last week of term


Almost a quarter of secondary pupils across Stoke-on-Trent were off school at the end of term for Covid-related reasons.

The sheer scale of disruption to young people’s education is captured in figures published yesterday (July 27).

The vast majority of affected students were self-isolating after coming into contact with someone else who had the virus. Just 1.4 per cent of pupils in Potteries high schools were confirmed to have Covid-19 themselves and 1.1 per cent had a suspected case.

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In the city’s primaries, 14.1 per cent of children were off school for coronavirus-related reasons on July 15. That compared with 23.4 per cent in the secondary sector.

But the snapshot just gives a partial picture as only six out of 10 Stoke-on-Trent schools responded to the weekly Department for Education survey.

Overall attendance across the 55 schools submitting data was 72.8 per cent in the last full week of term. That represented 14,744 pupils actually in class, with 3,404 pupils absent due to coronavirus.

In Staffordshire, which had a 55.4 per cent response rate from schools, attendance on July 15 dropped to 75.9 per cent. Across the 221 schools that responded, only 48,686 pupils were in the classroom – the lowest proportion since the half-term break.

Nationally, the number of pupils absent due to Covid topped the one million mark that same week.


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Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “These figures bring a year of unprecedented educational disruption to a grim end.”

The Government has now scrapped the requirement to educate pupils in bubbles as coronavirus restrictions have been eased across the country.

But the updated guidance only came into force just as schools were breaking up for the summer holidays. Many had been sending whole classes – and even entire year groups – home following a positive case.

The figures for the end of term show:

  • In Staffordshire, 9,983 pupils from the 221 schools were absent due to contact with a ‘potential Covid-19 case’. A further 434 pupils had a confirmed case themselves and 286 pupils had a suspected case;
  • In Stoke-on-Trent, there were 166 confirmed cases among pupils and 187 suspected cases, with 3,051 pupils staying at home after contact with someone else who tested positive;
  • In Cheshire East, where there was a 59.6 per cent response rate from schools, 3,375 pupils were absent due to having contact with a positive case, 206 were confirmed to have the virus themselves and 183 had a suspected case.


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Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown has thanked schools for their efforts to support children during the pandemic.

She said: “It has been a year like no other, and schools have been under immense pressure dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.

“I have two school-aged children myself and know first-hand how schools have adapted to often quickly-changing guidance and restrictions. Yet through it all they have continued to put the health and well-being of staff and students first, and have worked incredibly hard.”

Mrs Brown is urging families to continue getting tested throughout the summer holidays.





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