ASCL comment on government plans for schools in January

17/12/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on government plans for secondary schools in January.
 
Commenting on government plans for secondary schools in January, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“We recognise we are in a fast-moving situation, and that it is imperative the government does everything possible to halt the spiralling rates of Covid infection. And we are pleased it has finally realised the importance of large-scale testing of staff and pupils in our schools and colleges, and the introduction of short periods of remote learning to reduce the spread of the virus.
 
“But it beggars belief that this announcement is being made now, right at the end of term, and after the government has spent the last few weeks refusing to contemplate the idea of remote learning and threatening schools with legal action if they dared to suggest such a move.
 
“We are very concerned about the feasibility of setting up a testing programme at the scale envisaged. We welcome the limited support we understand will be available, but this is a huge exercise requiring processes to be established and communicated, parental permission to be obtained, and doubtless innumerable other logistical issues to be overcome.
 
“We also want an assurance that school staff will not be expected to carry out any invasive medical procedure.
 
“All this is aside from the fact that many school and college leaders have not had a break since March and are presumably now expected to spend their Christmas making sense of this announcement, and arranging for priority groups to be taught in school and other children to be taught remotely.
 
“The profession is very willing to work with the government over how to roll-out mass testing, but ministers must understand that chaotic, last-minute announcements do not constitute a collaborative approach.”