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More than nine in 10 children back in school in Devon

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More than 90 per cent of Devon pupils are already back in school as the new academic year gets under way in the county.

Most Devon schools did not open until this week with some staggering starts for different year groups over the next few days.

But Devon’s Head of Education, Dawn Stabb, revealed this afternoon that 90 per cent of children are already in school. That compares with an average of 96 per cent in normal times.

“We’ve had a really good start in terms of children engaging with schools,” she said. “This is a really positive response.

“All schools have updated their risk assessments over the summer so they are in line with both Government and health and safety guidance.”

She said 99 per cent of the pupils known to Devon’s transport team had transport in place on their first day of school. For the other one per cent, arrangements had been made with their families to get them to school.

An additional 70 buses had been organised across the county to supplement routes where children normally used public transport to get to school to ensure social distancing could be in place.

Dawn Stabb told Devon’s children’s scrutiny committee that 1,000 fewer bus passes had been issued this year in comparison to previous years.

She said Devon was working closely with schools and colleagues in health and the youth service to ensure extra support was in place for children who were experiencing problems after the lockdown.

During the pandemic, over 2,000 computers – funded by the Government – had been issued to vulnerable children so they could learn remotely, she said.

The county council was keeping the health and safety of children and school staff under close review and there was comprehensive guidance in place for headteachers if a children or small group of children tested positive for coronavirus.

“The goal is to keep schools open and as many children in school as possible,” she said. “But schools are also keeping their remote learning facilities in place for any children who need to isolate.”

Devon County Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for schools, James McInnes, paid tribute to school staff and county council officials in transport and other departments for the huge amount of work they had done to get pupils back in the classroom and safely learning.

“They have all done a fantastic job, particularly in light of the late guidance from Government,” he said.