Around 200 schoolchildren and staff are self-isolating after pupils or teachers tested positive for coronavirus, Swindon’s director of public health said.

Steve Maddern, the borough council’s health chief, said six schools and colleges had flagged positive test results in the three weeks since term began three weeks’ ago.

Seven pupils or staff members had tested positive.

And Mr Maddern said there were likely to be further cases as the term continued. He told reporters yesterday morning: “We’ll continue to work with schools. We’ve not taken our finger off the pulse.”

He added: “The positive thing to say is that we’re heading towards the end of September now.

“Having the school back for their third week and only seeing less than 10 people test positive is a positive story to tell.

“That’s because of all the work the schools have been putting in to protect the children and workforce whilst they’re there.”

Most of the cases in schools were believed to have been acquired outside school.

“It isn’t necessarily what’s happening in the school, it’s how are the kids getting to school, what are they doing outside is the key thing,” Mr Maddern said.

Of the six schools and colleges, one was a secondary school and a case had also been confirmed in New College. The remainder were in Swindon primary schools, including Brook Field Primary School, Shaw, where 60 reception-aged children were sent home last week.

Quizzed by reporters, Mr Maddern said schools were following official guidelines when they sent pupils home.

“We’re all working to the same guidelines. The guidelines clearly state that if you have one positive case then you then self-isolate that bubble. What we’ve seen and what Wiltshire has seen is it’s very much down to the school to determine how they form those bubbles,” he said.

“In some situations it may simply be a class. But we know with some secondary schools, because of the way that students move around the building they’ve then chosen to make the year group the bubble.

“In one situation you’ll have one case and potentially 30 children and teachers go home, but in another case you see a whole year group go home because of the way the school has managed its risk assessments around potential exposure.”

Hundreds of Wiltshire pupils have been ordered to self-isolate after positive test results. They include year 10 pupils at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy sent home earlier this week.