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80,000 12-15-year-olds have been booked in online to receive their Covid vaccinations during half term

80,000 12-15-year-olds have been booked in online to receive their Covid vaccinations during half term,

Paul Whiteman 100x100Commenting on the news Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“It’s right that families who want to get their child the jab are able to do so as quickly as possible.

“It’s important that the in-school vaccination programme is still given full support in order to keep the momentum up after half term.

“Measures other than vaccination also need to be prioritised – ventilation and air monitoring urgently needs to be improved.”


Education Secretary writes to parents about vaccinations for 12 to 15 year olds 

25th Oct 2021: Education Secretary @NadhimZahawi has written an open letter to parents, carers and guardians about the the importance of children aged 12 to 15 getting the vaccine – and how it is now even easier for them:

Dear parents, carers and guardians,

It remains my top priority as Education Secretary to protect education and make sure children are spending as much time as possible in the classroom.

Last month, the UK Chief Medical Officers recommended that the government extends the offer of a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to all 12-to-15-year-olds.  This has been approved as safe and effective for this age group by the UK medicines regulator, the MHRA.

It is estimated that this country’s world leading vaccination programme has saved more than 120,000 lives. Vaccinations are building a wall of defence across the country and it is important that as many young people as possible take up the offer so we can continue to keep these defences strong.

Young people aged 12 to 15 can now book an appointment using the NHS book a vaccination service. Where possible, appointments should be booked outside of school hours to avoid missing school.

Getting the vaccine is one of the best things young people can do to protect themselves and those around them – and I want to encourage you to consider the new option for them to have their jab at a vaccination centre locally, as well as the option to have it in school.

Having the vaccine makes us all less likely to catch the virus and less likely to pass it on and so will be important in ensuring children can do the things they love like seeing their grandparents during the Christmas holiday. Young people who get COVID-19 will miss school, and may spread it to others. That is why we are encouraging you all to support your children to get vaccinated.

The school-based COVID-19 vaccination programme has already vaccinated nearly half a million young people and visited thousands of schools. If your child is 12 or older on the day the vaccinations are taking place in school, they will be able to access a vaccine.

Further information about vaccinations for 12-15-year-olds can be found at the NHS website here.

It is also particularly important that young people take a COVID-19 test and report the result before returning to school after the half-term break, helping make sure we keep the virus out of education.

Together, we’ll beat this virus and protect the education of our children.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi 

Sector response to the announcement that parents can book Covid vaccinations online for 12-15-year-olds 

James Bowen, director of policy for school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“This is a sensible move. Those who want to get the vaccination should be able to do so as quickly as possible.

“We know that the high level of cases amongst this age group has led to some pupils who want to vaccine not being able to get it in school, either because they are absent on the day or because they have tested positive for Covid-19 within the last 28 days.

“It remains crucial that the in-school programme is rolled out as quickly as possible. We know that the health teams working in schools are working tirelessly to achieve this, but they need full support from the government.”

School leaders call for anti-vaccination protestors to behave more responsibly

Commenting on calls for public space exclusion orders around schools to prevent anti-vaxxer protests,

Paul Whiteman 100x100Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, called for protesters to behave more responsibly, saying:

“Whatever your views on vaccination, it is never okay to make children feel scared and intimidated as they arrive at school. People have the right to express their concerns but this must be done appropriately – schools are not the place for angry protests.

“We would urge anti-vaccination campaigners to behave more responsibly and to carefully consider the impact their actions are having on children.”

A joint letter to parents of secondary school and college students in England on Covid-19 testing and vaccines 

11th Oct 2021: Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have written a joint letter to parents of secondary school and college students to thank them for all their efforts in keeping education safe for all during the pandemic and talk about the importance of vaccinations and regular testing:

We know that children and young people have been hugely affected by the pandemic, both in terms of their education and their ability to socialise and participate in activities that benefit them outside of formal education.

We want to thank you as parents and guardians of secondary school and college students for your support over the last eighteen months. We know this time has been difficult for many of you, as well as for the young people you care for.

As students return to the classroom, we would ask for your continued support to make sure your children are able to stay in face-to-face learning, by encouraging them to:

  • test themselves for COVID-19 twice a week, and more frequently if they are specifically asked to do so. This way, we can find individuals who have the virus but are not showing symptoms, and stop them from passing it on to others.
  • come forward for the COVID-19 vaccine. This is one of the best things young people can do to protect themselves and those around them.

We know that students have missed a lot of time in school and college since the pandemic started, and that there is no substitute for face-to-face learning. Keeping students in the classroom in the coming months is therefore a Government priority, both for their immediate and longer-term wellbeing.

We know that some of you will be concerned about the health risks to the young people you care for. We want to reassure you that the evidence shows that young people remain at very low risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

However, we need to continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Young people who get ill will need to miss school or college, and may spread it to others. That is why we are encouraging you all to support your children to get vaccinated and to continue to test regularly. This will help to detect cases early, reduce spread, and keep students in education.


Vaccines are our best defence against COVID-19. They help protect young people, and benefit those around them. Vaccination makes people less likely to catch the virus and less likely to pass it on.

The COVID-19 vaccination programme for children aged 12-15 years has now started. Thousands of young people across the country have already taken the opportunity to receive their vaccine. If your child is 12-15 years old, a consent form and information leaflet from the NHS will be sent home allowing you to provide consent for your child to receive their vaccination at school

We remind you that 16- and 17-year-olds can book their vaccination through the National Booking Service or find a convenient walk-in site. Please do help your 16- and 17-year-olds to book a vaccination for yourself if you have not done so already, or if you have missed a second dose.


We ask that you support and encourage your children to test twice a week at home, every week, with Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests. This will help us reduce the transmission of COVID-19 among our children. Please report and upload test results online, even if they are negative or void, as this allows us to understand the virus and take additional action when needed.

In addition to regular twice weekly testing:

  • Children who receive a positive LFD result should isolate and book a PCR test to confirm their result.
  • Children who are identified as a close contact by NHS Test and Trace should take a PCR test and continue to go to school while they wait for their result.
  • In response to potential outbreaks, your school, college or local health team may advise additional testing. For example, if your child is identified as a close contact, they may be asked to take daily LFDs, while they wait for their PCR result. In this scenario, they should continue to attend school as long as their LFD results remain negative.

Additionally, please encourage your child to follow guidance on wearing face coverings in crowded spaces with people they don’t know well, for example on school transport.

We know that many of you will have questions or concerns about this, and we understand that. The NHS website ( is an excellent source of advice, which we hope will be able to answer many of your questions about testing or vaccination. If not, you can call the 119 service who should be able to help with questions on testing. When you get a vaccination consent form for your child, it will include details of how you can ask further questions of your local teams.

Thank you again for your support.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi and Health Secretary Sajid Javid

Sector Response to the joint letter

Paul Whiteman 100x100Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“It is good that the government are alert to the increasing case numbers of Covid in schools, and are listening when we report the high level of disruption it is causing. It is also right for the government to highlight the importance of regular testing. Regular testing is certainly a sensible part of the response, but we believe that there is more that should be being done.

“The big issue schools are having at the moment is the number of children and staff off sick due to Covid and other illnesses. The government removed ‘bubbles’ and other isolation protocols to try and keep more children in school, but, as we predicted, this seems to be leading to a high number of pupils missing school as a result of becoming ill. The most recent attendance figures show we have record numbers of pupils absent as a result of Covid or suspected Covid and a significant number off with non-Covid related illnesses.

“Our members are particularly concerned about the current guidance relating to siblings and household contacts. At the moment, if a child tests positive for Covid, their siblings can continue to attend school, even if they share a bedroom, for example. Our members say this is actively contributing to the spread of Covid in schools. School leaders want the government to revisit its guidance, particularly when it comes to contact tracing and self-isolation. No one wants to see a child miss any time off school, but there is a real risk that the current policy is inadvertently leading to more children missing school in the long run.

“The letter to parents also refers to the importance of vaccination. The vaccination programme is proceeding slowly in secondary schools. It is important that parents and young people are offered the vaccine as quickly as possible so that they can make their decision about whether to take it.

“Unfortunately, one of the reasons for the slow deployment is that children are missing their chance for vaccination because they have caught Covid. If they are off sick they miss vaccination slots at school – and they cannot be jabbed while they are ill anyway – there is a 28 day waiting period before a child who has had Covid can then have the vaccine.

“We don’t know yet what the take up of the vaccine will be for younger teens – it may never be as high as in the general population. So it is important that other measures are also pursued, such as improved ventilation and reconsidering current guidance on close contact isolation. We also need a track and trace system that is working effectively. This will help both to reduce illness and disruption and to speed up the vaccination rollout.

“It’s not just Covid that is causing children to be off school. There is also the inevitable resurgence of coughs, colds and the usual winter diseases. Some experts are predicting that these illnesses will be worse this year after lying dormant during isolation. Measures such as better ventilation could be effective in helping to minimise the spread of other illnesses too.

“Overall, the government should adopt a precautionary principle. We can’t put all our eggs in one basket in the fight against Covid in schools. Testing is clearly important but it’s not a silver bullet. Investment and guidance needs to be there for all the different measures we have available to us: testing, vaccination, isolation, and ventilation. Only by pursuing a wide-ranging precautionary approach can we prevent illness from continuing to disrupt education this term.”

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