• Thursday, June 30, 2022

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UK expects Omicron to disrupt education during spring

British education secretary Nadhim Zahawi. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

BRITAIN’S government expects the Omicron variant to disrupt schools and colleges during the upcoming spring, as the education department has called on former teachers to fill staff absences in the New Year.

In a statement, the department said, “the Omicron variant is expected to continue to cause increased staff absence levels in the spring term, and some local areas may struggle to find sufficient numbers of supply teachers available unless former staff come forward”.

Those who are recently retired or trained as a teacher and have moved careers are asked to consider whether they can find even a day a week for the spring term to help protect face-to-face education.

Potential teachers are encouraged to go through the process of comprehensive checks, “ideally before Christmas Eve”, to be ready to join the workforce from January.

The appeal of the department comes amid reports that schools have already been experiencing low attendance from both pupils and teachers ahead of the winter break.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi urged all those who think they can help to get the process started right away on the Get Into Teaching website.

In a video message posted on Twitter on Monday (20), he said, “I am asking any teachers no longer in the profession to come forward if they are available to temporarily fill absences in the new year”.

“Although 99.9 per cent of schools have consistently been open this term, with cases of Omicron increasing we must make sure schools and colleges have the teachers available to remain open for face-to-face education”.

According to the government, supply teacher agencies across the country will continue to manage local supply and demand.

The Government is also working with Teach First, a social enterprise, to explore how those who have trained as teachers but currently work outside the profession could make a temporary return to the classroom.

Teach First CEO Russell Hobby said the disruption to school life and extended periods at home mean pupils’ education has inevitably suffered, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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