Nothing is normal in schools now

Past mistakes continue to be repeated by ministers even though we are more than two years into a pandemic that is still causing chaos, anxiety and huge workload pressures in schools, says Dr Mary Bousted


The government appears to be in denial about the impact that Covid is continuing to have in schools. Pupil absence is rising as the Omicron variant rips through the pupil population. The latest absence figures reveal that on March 17 nearly 160,000 pupils were absent because of Covid – a huge increase on the 45,000 recorded just two weeks earlier (DfE, 2022).

Teacher and leader absences have doubled to nearly 10% in the same period; 23% of schools had more than 15% of their teachers and leaders off with Covid.

Stress levels in schools are extremely high. There are not enough supply teachers to go round. The concept of “rarely cover” is a mirage as leaders ask their staff to cover the classes of absent colleagues.

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