A North Tyneside high school is urging Ofqual to rethink how the summer exams will be held after revealing the massive impact coronavirus has had on students.

Whitley Bay High School says it has had 49 positive cases of Covid-19 within its student body since September and 758 students have had to self-isolate at least once, including 265 Year 11 students and 83 Year 13 students.

In addition, 149 youngsters have had to isolate at least twice, including 75 Year 11 children, and they now have 10 students entering their third period of isolation, including seven Year 11 pupils.

The school's headteacher Steve Wilson has written to Ofqual, which regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England, informing them of the effect Covid has had on pupils who are due to sit exams this summer and raising concerns that they may be disadvantaged.

Writing to Dame Glenys Stacey, chief regulator of Ofqual, Mr Wilson said: "I feel I must write again, having written to you in October to highlight the continued and worsening issues we are experiencing as a school in the North East of England.

"I think it is important to be absolutely clear that I am keen to be part of the solution, rather than just highlighting the problems."

He went on to include part of a message he received from the parents of a Year 11 girl who was starting her third period of isolation.

In it, the parents said their daughter worked hard both at school and home, was self-driven and aimed for the highest grades.

They then added: "She deserves to have the opportunity to prove herself fairly alongside her classmates. However, with her now entering her third period of self-isolation, we cannot see how - having lost almost 50% of teaching time by early December in such a pivotal year - that she can be measured fairly by examination in May/June on a 'level playing field' with those fortunate enough to have been taught in school/s for most or all of this time.

"It is no-one’s fault, and we ask for no favourable treatment. Indeed, we are sure you will feel the same frustrations as we do as parents. All we ask for is fairness and we’re grateful to you for already advising us that consideration will be given to any student that faces such a predicament."

Mr Wilson said all parents whose children had missed school echoed these feelings.

The heateacher added: "In addition, our staffing has been affected by the current situation in North Tyneside. Since September, 57 staff have been affected in some way by Covid.

"This ranges from testing positive and having to self-isolate, having to self-isolate due to close contact with someone who has tested positive, unavoidable child care issue because staff children have been sent home from local first and primary schools due to Covid outbreaks, having to wait for test results that return negative but after a number of days of school have been missed.

"I am glad to say that we have managed to remain open throughout this time but such staff issues clearly disrupt the education of students and the normal running of a school of 1,700 students.

"All this means students at Whitley Bay High School and many other schools will be at a distinct disadvantage compared to other schools around the country, where no or few positive cases have been identified and small numbers of students have had to self-isolate.

"The suggestion, that exams, as they are currently planned, will be a level playing field for all students, is simply not correct. They are not fit for purpose for a large number of students and we would suggest the exam arrangements will be discriminatory for many students, unless significant adaptations are made."

Mr Wilson further said the time had come to "consider the viability of summer exams given the huge regional variations within England in terms of disruption to student education".

An Ofqual spokesperson said: "We understand how difficult life is for many students, and we absolutely recognise the issue of lost teaching time, which varies across England.

"We also understand the pressures that school leaders and teachers are under. We too are working hard so that results next year can be as fair as possible in these exceptional times.

"We are providing advice to the Department for Education on contingency options for 2021 and continuing to have discussions about all likely scenarios with school and college leaders, and other stakeholders. And we are talking to the wider education sector about the significant issue of lost learning."