Tuesday, 19 January 2021

UPDATED WITH DATA SETS & METHODOLOGY: Department for Education releases data on the impact of coronavirus on the school workforce

 Rate of infection school staff

From the National Education Union 

The Department for Education has finally released data on the impact of coronavirus on the school workforce in “Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.” 

The dataset includes the number of teachers and school leaders, teaching assistants and other staff absent with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

Using this data we have been able to calculate an estimate for the rate of coronavirus infection amongst school staff.

The data shows that there are much higher COVID rates of infection amongst teachers and other school staff than for the general population. This finding is in contradiction to the reassurances regularly given by the Department and by Public Health England, including by Dr Jenny Harries giving evidence to the Education Select Committee this morning.

  • On average the rate of COVID infection is 1.9 times higher amongst primary and secondary teachers than the general population. It is 2 times higher for special school teachers.
  • For teaching assistants and other staff, the rate of COVID infection is three times higher in primary schools and almost seven times higher in special schools.

The Government has been collecting this information since early October.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“These shocking figures raise further very serious questions about the handling of coronavirus in schools.

“What investigations have the Department for Education made into these figures?

“Why have the ministers repeatedly told school staff and the public that there was no reason for concern when these figures indicate that there should have been real concern about the much higher COVID infection rates of teachers and other school staff?

“Why did ministers deny clinically extremely vulnerable staff the right to work from home?

“Why has it taken ministers so long to release this data?”

"What mitigating measures will ministers now propose?"

  1. Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
  2. Teachers and school leaders chart 
  3. Teaching assistants and other staff chart 
  4. Spreadsheet 
  5.  UPDATE Published January 22nd 2021 by Education Policy Institute: Covid related teacher and pupil absence over 2020 Autumn Term: https://epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/covid-related-teacher-absences/

DATE SETS AND METHODOLOGY (Click bottom right square for full size)





Jenny Cooper said...

Thank you for posting this vital information

Anonymous said...

Could you provide a link to the gov.uk page where the data this press release is based on is from, please?

Anonymous said...

Without links to the official datasets, without context, and without methodology, is that an appropriate headline?

The latest data in the above link suggest that the average proportion of infected staff was 1.31%.

The following is taken from the most recent gov.uk publication:

During the most recent week of the study (27 December 2020 to 2 January 2021), London had the highest proportion testing positive; we estimate that 3.56% of people in London had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 3.26% to 3.87%), equating to around 1 in 30 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 30 to 1 in 25).


School staff should be prioritised for vaccination along with other crucial front line workers. They should have the right to work in as safe an environment as possible, and every resource required to properly manage risks. A credible NEU would be working towards these aims, not undermining their own cause by putting questionable analysis into the public domain.

Jenny Cooper said...

Dear anonymous,

Not sure why the source quoted is no longer available as a direct link but here it is again. The NEU have been working tirelessly to protect its members, has been shown to consistently quite correct data and science, but is not prepared to take vaccines away from critically vulnerable members of the population.
Happy to give further information by email if you were to identify yourself!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link.

The table embedded therein shows that the latest batch of confirmed cases for teachers and leaders is actually 1.0%, and for teaching assistants and other staff 1.1%. How does the Brent NEU reconcile that with the 3.56% figure referenced above for Londoners?

Re the point about context, the confirmed infection rates within all school staff should not be set against the national per100k rates. The former is a discrete cohort of working age adults, the latter a population-wide, all-age sample. A more useful comparison, for example, would be with police officers, hospital staff, or supermarket workers.

I'm making these points because the case against this government's woefully inadequate handling of the pandemic is strong enough without critics needing to massage statistics or peddle alarming conjecture. Every single person employed in the provision of state education, every child and parent dependant upon its provision - have all be failed miserably - tragically so, in many cases - by Boris & Co. Let's not let them even marginally off the hook with our own brand of misinformation.

As for me, this blog permits anonymity, presumably to encourage participation, perhaps even to afford a 'whistle-blower'-type protection?

In any case, assuming I was a resident, or an in-borough unionised education professional, or a parent of children in local schools, or all of the above, or none, I think I would be well within my rights to have my privacy respected. Do you disagree?

Jenny Cooper said...

The data quoted by the NEU dates back to October; it refers to cases last term when schools were open. Your 3.56 figure is from just after Christmas. Hence the discrepancy. The headline remains accurate. The data quoted is accurate. There is no misinformation here. If you believe education staff are at risk you may wish to join our campaigns to try to protect them.

Anonymous said...

There's a Gavin Williamson-esqe quality to that response.

As I say, the per100k comparison is a false and therefore irresponsible equivalence. I'm quoting and referencing actual proportions (from a period of potentially peak infectiousness, no-less) which appear to suggest that staff might actually be safer IN school than out.

In sensationalising the data to suit a political argument you are putting at risk the credibility of an otherwise sound and essential position, hence my dislike of this 'campaign'. But make no mistake, we are on the same side in wanting only the best for this country's education system. On this issue, however, I think you are going about it in entirely the wrong way.

To the Editor - if this platform is an objective media outlet should it not publicly press the NEU for clarity and confirmation via properly referenced data and clear methodology? Even if it isn't, and it's just a perfectly legitimate partisan blog, do you still have the same confidence in your headline? Out of interest, if the proportion figures (3.56% to 1.0-1.1%) quoted above prove an accurate comparison, would you at any point be quite so willing to publish a headline that said "Staff three times safer in School than out in public"?

Martin Francis said...

Thank you for your comments and to Jenny. It was my headline and not that of the NEU - I have changed it to the heading on the PR so as not to undermine the NEU case. I have asked about the data sets via NEU FB. As stated on the site this is a campaigning blog. I do not want to say more publicly but I am chair of governors of a school where staff have been hit badly by Covid with more than a quarter testing positive between December and the present. Some very ill.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to those staff and their families.