SCHOOL leaders in the region have warned of "unnecessary additional pressures" if the Government does not provide further support in its plan to vaccinate schoolchildren.

It is expected the vaccinations will be given through schools as soon as possible once the advice has been considered by the Government.

However, Schools North East (SNE) - a regional network of headteachers - has urged the Government to provide clearer guidance on their role in vaccinating schoolchildren.

"There is a very worrying lack of detail as to what exactly will be expected from our schools," SNE said.

"The use of school premises to administer vaccines runs the risk of increasing the administrative burden on schools, and unnecessarily involving staff in issues of parental consent.

"Schools urgently need clear guidance on their role so they can effectively communicate with parents and students, and the Government must ensure that they are effectively supported by all of the relevant agencies.

"The Department for Education must ensure schools are properly protected to avoid any unnecessary additional pressures on them."

Read more: Revealed: Covid pandemic's devastating impact on the North

The UK’s four chief medical officers said children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a first dose of the vaccine.

SNE said schools across the country have faced "significant disruption caused by the pandemic" but hoped vaccination could help reduce Covid-related absences in schools.

Chris Zarraga, director of SNE, said: "Throughout the pandemic, school staff workload and wellbeing have been negatively impacted by additional non-school responsibilities coupled with late and inadequate guidance.

"The Government must urgently communicate with schools what is expected of them. Ministers must ensure that they are properly supported and play an appropriate role in collaboration with the NHS and other health agencies, and allow schools to focus on helping all of our young people to recover from the effects of the pandemic."

The Northern Echo: Chris Zarraga, director of Schools North East. Picture: PAUL EXTONChris Zarraga, director of Schools North East. Picture: PAUL EXTON

Recent research highlighted the disproportionate impact Covid-19 outbreaks had in the North East.

In the week ending July 9, 37% of sessions were missed in the North East, with 27% missed due to Covid isolation and quarantine. In contrast, London saw an overall absence rate of 15%, and a Covid absence rate of 8%.

SNE said the disruption is "negatively impacting learning loss generally, and the disadvantage gap in attainment".

"It has had a negative impact on staff workload and wellbeing," it added.

"It is crucial that schools are supported to minimise Covid-related disruption".

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