Many schoolchildren are being forced home in the current bubble system

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I remember when my eldest son was in primary school several years ago, it was such a palaver to get a few days off school for important family events.

There seemed to be endless forms to fill in to justify his absence, and it was drummed into parents how important it was for kids to attend school every single day.

We also received letters around each holiday warning of the consequences of taking children out of school a few days early, or returning a bit late, due to the impact of just one lost day on their education.

How times have changed. Now, because of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of children are routinely taking days off school.

The rules mean that if anyone in a child’s school bubble tests positive for Covid, the entire bubble is banned from coming into school and must self-isolate for 10 days. That meant that last week 375,000 pupils were off and 279,000 did not have Covid. The system is in chaos.

Youngsters have already had to put up with their schools being shut for months, contend with patchy online lessons, face disruption to exams and see activities like end-of-school trips and sports days abandoned. Now they are having to deal with not knowing if they will be in school from one week to the next.

Marcus Rashford has become a national hero thanks to his holiday school meals campaign
(Image: Getty)

We are rightly proud of the success of the vaccination rollout. But what good is all the hard work by the NHS if it isn’t having an impact on things like ­children being able to stay in school?

I’m deeply concerned about the effect the pandemic is having on the futures of the most disadvantaged children in the country.

And I’m seeing and hearing very little in the way of solutions.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says he’s looking into this and that the class bubble mayhem may end, but likely won't take effect until the new school year in September.

This means more chaos and confusion for schools, teachers and parents.

Why do schools and children feel like such a low priority?

Earlier this year a proposal to give schools £15billion of funding to help ­children catch up was rejected as ­ministers said they were only prepared to invest £1.4billion – the equivalent of £22 per child. Sir Kevan Collins, the education “catch-up” commissioner, resigned and called the approach to recovery in schools “feeble”.

Marcus Rashford has become a national hero thanks to his holiday school meals campaign for children who needed them the most, but it shouldn’t have been up to him.

This situation is a ticking time bomb. The inequality gap is widening and if something isn’t done to fix it quickly the repercussions will stay with us for years to come.

Daily Mirror news