ONS: Covid death rate among secondary teachers above average, but ‘not statistically significant’

Secondary school teachers have higher rates of Covid-related deaths than the general working age population, but the differences are not “statistically significant”, the Office for National Statistics has said.

The ONS has today published its analysis of Covid-related deaths by occupation. It found that 139 teachers, senior education professionals, education advisers and school inspectors died between March 9 and December 29. Over the same period, 46 teaching assistants and educational support assistants died.

Fifty-two of those who died were secondary school teachers, equating to a death rate of 39.2 deaths per 100,000 men and 21.2 deaths per 100,000 women.

These rates were higher than those seen nationally – 31.4 and 16.8 deaths per 100,000 among men and women respectively.

However, the ONS said the differences “were not statistically significantly different than those of the same age and sex in the wider population”.

When looking at the death rate overall among teaching staff – 18.4 deaths per 100,000 men and 9.8 deaths per 100,000 women – the ONS said they were “statistically significantly lower than the rate of death involving Covid-19 among those of the same age and sex”.

The ONS also compared teaching occupations with all other professional occupations to see “how the deaths compare with professions with similar broad economic and educational backgrounds”.

Again, it found Covid-related death rates were “not statistically significantly different to the rates seen in professional occupations”.

ONS data shows 20 school midday and crossing patrol supervisors also died during the period, as did four school secretaries.

In contrast, death rates among social care workers “were statistically significantly higher” than those of the same age and sex.

In total, 469 care workers died between March and December – a rate of 79 deaths per 100,000 men and 35.9 deaths per 100,000 women.

The data comes amid a growing debate over whether or not school staff are more likely to catch Covid-19 than other professions.

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  1. Time for the unions to stop making unsubstantiated claims and causing undue worry for our much loved and essential teachers!

    While closing schools to most is necessary to break chains of transmission, it has to be fantastic news that there is no additional risk to staff. Great news for teachers, don’t listen to scare mongering unions.

    • Sarah Maskell

      The date of data is from March to December. March to July…. only partial opening. August…… school holiday. So you cant use this as any real indication of what the situation would be if schools had been open fully for the entire period.
      Cases amongst school and nursery staff have been high when schools have been fully open…i see that with my own eyes.
      Also a large proprtion of teachers are young and female. But those who are worried are not!!!

  2. Paul Davis

    What about the relative infection rates?
    Data comparing likelihoods of being INFECTED with COVID-19 is of more significance to the working age population – teachers should be concerned about long term COVID symptoms

  3. Martin Duffy

    I would like some clarity with regards the ONS survey. The length of time the information was gathered was between March and the end of December. By my recollection schools were closed apart from supporting key worker children from March to June. Schools reopened on a smaller scale with full two metre distancing and a raft of other measures in place, so were not full by any means. Then the summer holidays meant teachers were on holiday. Teachers and other school staff work from (conservative estimate) 8-4/5 with students Monday to Friday. Now, I don’t proclaim to be a statistician so maybe I’m missing something. Supermarkets and other key worker industries operated under open conditions from March all the way through to December. Supermarkets also operate at weekends, through holidays and weekends. Supermarkets do operate on a wider range of hours on a daily basis. How is comparing teacher death rate given the number of days worked, hours worked (with students per day) in any way comparable to 24/7 x 52 a like for like measure. I would be very interested to see the figures for Sept-Dec when anyone connected with working in a school had most (and very real) concerns. The fact the rate is still higher (albeit not statistically significant) hides a more startling picture. Also, I would like to understand the rate of infection for this period (Sept-Dec) against other key workers and the general population by Local Authority. The information is there so surely someone has already looked at this? I would like greater transparency so we can all return to school with real information about the risks to more fully inform our rusk assessments and our responsibility to all stakeholders in and outside of schools.

  4. Juliet Duff

    These figures and this article reporting on them, is misleading as they were based on numbers from March to December. Schools were ‘closed’ ( although they remained open for key workers and vulnerable children) from the end of March and did not full re-open until September so this fact would influence the figures as teachers were not working closely with children during that time. In numerous reports on these figures that I have read, not one has mentioned this. It will be interested to see the figures from September to December.