Schools in Bracknell Forest saw one in 14 teachers off sick because of Covid on just one day before Christmas, new figures reveal.

The Association of School and College Leaders said the past few months of the pandemic had put English schools under “enormous pressure”, calling for education staff to be prioritised for the vaccine.

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Bracknell News:

Department for Education figures show 28 teachers and school leaders in Bracknell Forest state schools were absent with either a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 on December 17.

There were also 47 forced to isolate.

This means 75 were off for Covid-19 related reasons on just one day – 7.4 per cent of all teachers in schools that remained open.

This was down from 13 per cent on the same day the week before, but up from 4.2 per cent on October 15, the first date the survey was conducted.

On December 17, all schools that responded to the survey in Bracknell Forest were open, after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson threatened one council with legal action to prevent it closing schools.

It is not known how many teachers in schools that had closed and moved to online-only lessons had coronavirus at the time, so the figures are likely to be under-estimates.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL, said: “The level of staff absence as a result of coronavirus is obviously affected by local infection rates, and the turbulence of the past few months has put schools under enormous pressure.

"It shows why it is important that the Government prioritises education staff in phase two of the rollout of the coronavirus vaccination programme.

"This will provide reassurance to staff and it will minimise further disruption when schools are fully open again."

The DfE figures also show 107 (8 per cent) teaching assistants and other school staff in Bracknell Forest were absent for coronavirus-related reasons on December 17.

Of them, 33 had either a suspected or confirmed case of the disease, and 74 were isolating.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, added: "If that is the Government’s plan, then we would urge them to provide clarity sooner rather than later on the local conditions that will need to be met.

"This will give vital time to prepare and enable a smoother reopening of schools and businesses.”

A DfE spokeswoman said the Government will keep plans for the return to school under review, but will work to reopen them as soon as possible.