SOME children in Bolton have missed more than eight week of face-to-face teaching because of covid.

Schools in Bolton have been amongst the worst affected in the North West because of the borough's high coronavirus infection rate at the start of term.

Now Town Hall chiefs, including the leader of Bolton Council Cllr David Greenhalgh and Cllr Anne Galloway, executive member for Children's Services, have written to the Government urging them to ensure children in Bolton are not disadvantages in their summer exams by urging the Government to change to teacher assessed grades.

Cllr Galloway said: “We are very concerned about the disruption to our pupils’ education due to the exceptionally high infection rates we’ve experienced in Bolton since September and how that will impact on performance in the summer public exams and in SATS. I know how anxious pupils are about next year and it’s important that the Education Secretary bears our situation in mind when making decisions on assessment next year and to ensure that it is fair and equitable.”

The letter states: “Moving to teacher assessed grades is the only way to ensure that young people in Bolton will have a fair and equitable assessment in summer 2020.

“Children in Bolton have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Bolton had by far the highest infection rate in the country in September – more than double the next highest area at one point. This has inevitably resulted in some children and staff testing positive and many others needing to isolate. This has resulted in legitimate and significant absence.

“We have seen many children in our secondary schools isolating several times with some missing more than eight weeks of face to face education so far this term. Children who have attended for face to face teaching have often had their learning disrupted due to the absence of their regular teacher.

“Schools in Bolton have worked incredibly hard to ensure they have risk assessments in place and are Covid secure. They have also worked incredibly hard to follow national track and trace processes to ensure the minimum number of children are asked to isolate following a positive test.

“Bolton’s schools have been affected much more than the majority of other North West Authorities and Greater Manchester due to our high infection rates at the start of term. This draws an even more stark comparison with the rest of England. We are concerned that this will exacerbate regional inequalities in education outcomes for a number of years.

“The three-week delay to exams in England will not come close to providing a level playing field for Bolton children. We believe moving to teacher assessed grades is the only way to ensure that young people in Bolton will have a fair and equitable assessment in summer 2020.

“We would also like you to consider how assessments in primary schools including the phonics check and SATs at both key stages can be similarly adapted in recognition that the disruption for younger children is equally disproportionate.”