NASUWT teaching union survey gives insight into impact rocketing Covid rates are having on our region’s schools

A survey from the country’s biggest teaching union has given a worrying insight into the damaging impact of rocketing Covid rates on our region’s schools

By Neil Fatkin
Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 4:55 am

The NASUWT conducted the survey with its North East members after a rapid rise in the spread of Covid led to reports of some schools struggling to remain open due to high levels of staff absence.

The survey revealed many of the region’s teachers felt staffing issues were having an impact on the capacity of schools to operate, with 27.08 per cent describing the impact as “major” and 59.28 saying it was having “some impact”.

Nearly half of teachers (45.28 per cent) said they’d been asked to cover for colleagues who were absent due to Covid.

A survey carried out by the country's largest teaching union, the NASUWT, has revealed an insight into the damaging impact of rocketing Covid rates on the region's schools.

NASUWT North East National Executive John Hall said: “I’m very concerned but not surprised by the figures but this survey doesn’t tell us anything we were not expecting.

"I have never known teachers to be more tired and disengaged than they are now. Many schools can’t get supply staff and if you can’t get enough staff to legitimately cover a timetable then you have to question whether they are safe to be fully open.”

With high Covid prevalence rates in school age groups, the survey revealed 30.92 per cent of North East teachers felt “quite anxious”, while 21.75 per cent said they were “very anxious” about the current situation.

Mr Hall said: “I’m not surprised by the level of anxiety being experienced. It’s also an anxious time for pupils and a decision needs to be made now as to whether exams will go ahead in the summer.”

One of the most worrying outcomes of the survey was that 13.28 per cent of the region’s teachers said face coverings in classrooms were not being followed, despite Government policy stipulating it’s now mandatory.

While the majority of respondents said there was “effective” provision for on-site testing, only 41.88 per cent said they were aware of their school’s policy to deploy CO2 monitors to assess ventilation quality – one if the key strategies in mitigating the spread of Covid.

Mr Hall said: “Covid is the top issue on a teacher’s mind the minute they walk into school to the minute they walk out. I know of very few schools with CO2 monitors in place.

"Some schools may have prioritised buying their own monitors, but more investment is needed from the Government to allow schools to access CO2 monitors and air purifiers.

"On the issue of masks not being worn, this represents poor leadership and should not be tolerated.”

The most recently published national Government data showed that in the week up to the end of January 6, 8.6 per cent of teachers and school leaders were absent from open schools.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We are helping conduct mass testing, bringing in supply staff and increasing ventilation support with CO2 monitors and air purifiers, while there will be no Ofsted inspections while testing is happening.

"Combined with the hard work of schools, we are confident our measures will maximise classroom time for students.”

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