William Eichler 05 July 2021

Council leader warns self-isolating pupils risk being ‘left behind’

Council leader warns self-isolating pupils risk being ‘left behind’ image

The leader of Oldham Council has called on the Government to urgently review the approach to self-isolation to address the increasing number of children missing vital time in school.

As of Thursday 1 July, there are 6,265 school pupils in Oldham self-isolating from school due to COVID-19. This is up from 4,109 just over one week before on Wednesday 23 June.

With approximately 45,000 school children in Oldham, that’s around 14% of school children now out of the classroom and at home.

There are also 411 school staff self-isolating, which combined with the 6,265 children means that across 72 schools in the borough there’s a total of 199 bubbles of children and teachers self-isolating.

Oldham Council’s leader Arooj Shah warned this will mean a generation of young people ‘left behind’.

‘It cannot be overstated how much of an impact not being able to go to school is having on these children and their education,’ she said.

‘We run the risk of having a generation of young people left behind not just here in Oldham, but elsewhere in Greater Manchester and in similar areas where rates of self-isolation are much higher than in other parts of the country.

‘I’m calling on Government to commit to a new plan to address the ongoing inequality that these school children are now facing. We need a new approach that minimises the impact on children’s education and we need it now, not in three weeks’ time.’

‘We also need a plan for fair catch-up funding so that we can try to ensure Oldham’s young people aren’t held back as a result of this pandemic,’ she added.

Managing director of children and young people for Oldham Council, Gerard Jones, commented: ‘Every day in school counts. Whilst support is still being given to those self-isolating at home it’s no substitute for being in school.

‘If exams go ahead as planned next year, children in places such as Oldham, who have missed more school than their peers in more affluent parts of the country which have had lower rates of Coronavirus will find themselves put at even more of a disadvantage.’

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