Official statistics showing the number of teachers who have died with Covid have been criticised as underestimating the true figure by excluding staff who are older than 64.
Figures published this morning by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 75 primary and secondary teachers aged 20 to 64 died with Covid between March and December last year.
But a Tes analysis shows that this number more than doubles to 158 once staff aged 65 and over more are included.
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The impact of including over-64s in the Covid death figures was first highlighted on Twitter by @ToryFibs, who looked at the figures for all education staff, including those working in higher education.
@ToryFibs wrote: “Just seen normally credible newspapers citing a figure of 139 education staff dying after contracting CV19. In truth the figure is at least 217 & climbs to 570 if you count those older than 64.”
*New Data*— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) January 25, 2021
217 Education staff aged 20-64 have died after contracting Coronavirus. When you add those over the age of 64 the total figure climbs to 570. https://t.co/xBe2cFvB4c pic.twitter.com/jQZxoTE4F6
His tweet attracted hundreds of likes and retweets, including from @Hricho151, who said “Tragic losses. Remember this when they say ‘schools are safe’”
Tragic losses.— Yorkshire-Politik. (@Hricho151) January 25, 2021
Remember this when they say 'schools are safe' https://t.co/k1lElgzili
And @KTD89 said: “This should be shocking but none of it really is anymore, is it? My mum has been a teacher for 20+ years, could have been another number on this list without hospital treatment – I hope we remember the sacrifice made by education staff throughout this crisis.”
This should be shocking but none of it really is anymore, is it? My mum has been a teacher for 20+ years could have been another number on this list without hospital treatment - I hope we remember the sacrifice made by education staff throughout this crisis. https://t.co/PJ9L08YLQv— KTDT (@KTD89) January 25, 2021
The ONS stated in its report that the total number of deaths in teaching and educational professionals was 139, which it said was broadly similar to “professions with similar broad economic and educational backgrounds”.
But it also states: “We do not include deaths for those aged 65 years and above in the main analyses to avoid accidental inclusion of those who may be retired.”
The NEU teaching union today criticised the ONS figures as only being “half the picture” because they do not include infection rates for school staff, only death rates.
As many teachers are relatively young, the NEU says they are less likely to die from Covid but may still suffer serious illness or get long Covid.