Agenda item

Agenda item

COVID-19 in Manchester School-Age Children, and Across Manchester School Settings: a retrospective analysis of academic year 2020/21

Report of the Director of Public Health


This report offers a data-driven retrospective analysis of the academic year 2020/21 in Manchester. The report explores the impact of COVID-19 on school settings across Manchester, levels of school absence, and confirmed cases in school-age children resident in the City.



The Committee received a report of the Director of Public Health which provided a data-driven retrospective analysis of the academic year 2020/21 in Manchester. The report explored the impact of COVID-19 on school settings across Manchester, levels of school absence, and confirmed cases in school-age children resident in the city.


The main points and themes within the report included:


  • National context;
  • Manchester Test and Trace;
  • COVID-19 Situational Awareness Explorer; and
  • Findings.


Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:


  • Whether the new lateral flow testing kits which only required a nasal swab encouraged more people to use them;
  • That it was important not to forget the impact that the pandemic had had on two years of children and young people’s education as things returned to greater normality and to ensure that those who had been most affected were not disadvantaged in future; and
  • The impact on children who had transitioned to high school this year and young people who had been awarded GCSE grades through teacher assessment and might be struggling with A-level or other college courses.


The Director of Education agreed that the impact of the pandemic on children and their education was a longer term issue and shared Members’ concern about this not being recognised and responded to in future years.  She advised Members that part of the reason for publishing the report had been to demonstrate this impact and that this information had also been shared with Manchester schools.  She highlighted the impact on Early Years and school readiness and advised that this age group needed to be monitored, ensuring they were meeting developmental milestones and were given the opportunity to develop basic social skills which they might have missed out on.  In response to a Member’s question, she outlined the support available to Early Years settings.  Regarding children entering Year 7 and post-16 education, she advised that Manchester had excellent schools and colleges which had been working hard to support children and young people transitioning during this period.  She advised that, where young people were not on the right course for them, the post-16 providers supported them to find the best option for them, such as reducing the number of A-levels they were taking, changing courses or moving to a different setting, where appropriate.  She reported that larger institutions also had Career Connect staff on site.  She advised that schools and post-16 providers had a point of contact within the Education Service for advice and support and, where particular themes were emerging, the service addressed this strategically.  The Chair noted the number of Ofsted inspections which had been initiated in recent weeks and expressed concern about whether Ofsted would take into consideration the impact of the last two years.


The Director of Public Health informed Members that at present both the old-style and new-style tests were being used.  He reported that it appeared that a lot of people were testing themselves but not recording the results online and that the easier tests and the importance of registering the results would be promoted to the public.  In response to a Member’s question, the Public Health Specialist (Health Intelligence) advised that the reasons some people did not record their test results included lack of IT skills and the time it took to do it, especially if you were registering results for multiple children.  He advised that he would look into the data on uptake of the new-style tests in comparison to the old-style tests.  The Programme Lead for Contact Tracing reported that some people did not want to register a positive test because of the requirements for self-isolation and she emphasised that there was a dedicated local team to support people who were required to self-isolate, offering financial and non-financial support for the household.


In response to a request from a Member that the communications about testing and the vaccination of children be reviewed, the Director of Public Health advised that his team would progress this, looking at how messages could be targeted more effectively.  He reported they were also lobbying for better national public health campaigns.  The Chair recognised the work of Neighbourhoods staff who had carried out door to door engagement with residents in areas with low vaccine take-up.  A Member advised that it was important to provide information in community languages and to use social media platforms that young people used.




That the Committee will continue to look at the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children and their education.

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