Virus keeps 2,400 off school in South Tyneside

Virus measures meant over 2,400 pupils were absent from schools in South Tyneside on just one day in October, a snapshot survey reveals.

Over 2,300 children missed school in South Tyneside on one day
Over 2,300 children missed school in South Tyneside on one day

Department for Education's (DfE) figures show 2,411 pupils were absent from schools in the borough on October 15 – an attendance rate of 86%.

The figures have prompted a warning from an education think tank that pupils in the North East will be at a disadvantage if the Government presses ahead with plans for exams next summer.

The DfE said, nationally, up to 412,000 children did not attend school for Covid-19 related reasons, with the majority self-isolating.

More than a fifth of schools said they had one or more pupils self-isolating after being asked to do so due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school.

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In South Tyneside, 81% of secondary pupils were in class on October 15 – slightly below the North East average of 83%, which was one of the lowest in England.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership has called for coursework to be used to assess GCSE and A-Level students nex year instead of exams.

Head of policy Sarah Mulholland said: “Northern students are the ones currently being impacted negatively by high infection rates and self-isolation.

“We urge the Government to commit to continuous assessment as it is a fairer alternative to the proposed examination plan."

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A DfE spokeswoman said schools were expected to provide pupils with remote education when they were self-isolating.

She added: “Exams are the fairest way of judging a student’s performance, which is why they will go ahead next year, underpinned by contingency measures developed in partnership with the sector.