A fifth of English state secondary schools partly closed due to Covid

Nearly one in five state secondary schools in England were unable to reopen last week due to Covid, figures show

  • Only 82% of state secondary schools in England were fully open on October 1
  • This means 600 state secondary schools are operating with restrictions in place
  • The official attendance figures were released by the Department for Education 
  • Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he is working ‘to keep pupils safe’

Almost a fifth of state secondary schools in England are partly closed last week due to coronavirus as the nation braces itself for a second wave, official figures show.

Only around 82% of state secondary schools were fully open on October 1 – down from 84% a week earlier.

The figure means over 600 state secondary schools are operating with restrictions in place. 

However pupil attendance has risen slightly, according to the Department for Education’s (DfE) latest statistics. 

Only around 82% of state secondary schools were fully open on October 1, according to figures from the Department for Education (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College are pictured during their first day back to the school in Belfast)

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘The vast majority of schools are open, as has been consistently the case since the start of term, with a 2% increase in the numbers of pupils attending to more than 7.4 million pupils last week. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured above) said the Department for Education would ‘continue to work with schools to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to keep pupils and staff safe’

‘Attendance in fully open primary schools is now consistent with what we would have expected before coronavirus.

‘We will continue to work with schools to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to keep pupils and staff safe.’ 

Schools are considered to be not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils for the whole school day and have asked a group of students to self-isolate. 

Overall, approximately 92% of state schools were fully open, down from 93% on September 24.

The cause of schools not being fully open was mostly ‘due to Covid-19 related reasons’, the DfE said.

However, pupil attendance increased in secondary schools from approximately 84% to 86%. 

About 90% of pupils in all state schools were in attendance, up from 88% a week earlier.

The DfE claims groups of pupils being asked to self-isolate ‘are becoming smaller’.

Schools are considered not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils on roll for the whole school day (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College in Belfast are pictured during a lesson)

Yesterday saw one of the highest rises in the number of coronavirus cases on record after a data issue saw another 12,594 coronavirus cases added to the rolling total, figures from the Department of Health show

But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the trend ‘reflects the extremely tough circumstances in which schools are operating due to the impact of Covid.

‘We remain concerned that schools lack the support from the Government that they need in this challenging task.

‘The Government must redouble its efforts to improve the Covid testing system, and ensure that schools are supported by clear and consistent guidance’, he said.  

Government guidance states that school attendance is mandatory from the beginning of the autumn term, while pupils or members of their households with coronavirus symptoms should not attend school.

If someone who has attended school is tested positive for Covid-19, pupils they have been in close contact with will be asked to self-isolate.

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