'Not deliverable': Private schools' Covid test warning

HMC group of private schools voices concerns over mass testing, saying government's plans are 'rushed' and 'chaotic'
21st December 2020, 8:25pm
Catherine Lough

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'Not deliverable': Private schools' Covid test warning

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/not-deliverable-private-schools-covid-test-warning
Coronavirus: The Hmc Group Of Private Schools Has Raised Concerns Over The Government's 'rushed' Plans For Mass Covid Testing In Schools

Private schools have added their voice to growing concerns over the government's plan to introduce mass coronavirus testing of secondary school students in January.

Simon Hyde, general secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, a body representing elite private schools in the UK, said the government's plans were "not deliverable".


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Heads' unions had already criticised plans to introduce mass coronavirus testing in schools as unworkable, and now the leading body of private schools has added its voice to the concerns.

Coronavirus: 'Rushed' plans for mass testing in schools

Dr Hyde said: "The chaotic and rushed nature of the government's announcement on the staggered return to secondary schools in January has left many educators bewildered.

"Whilst mass testing has the potential to be of enormous benefit to our schools and communities, it must be delivered in such a way as to be manageable and build public confidence.

"Time, thought and proper resourcing are fundamental to rolling out mass testing. It is not just about getting tests to schools, but the process of implementation and preparations to deal with the consequences."

The government announced last week that state secondary school students would go back to school in the first week of January with staggered starts to allow heads to roll-out mass testing in the new year

But heads had already warned that the plan would not work.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, had said it was "not possible to recruit and train all the people needed to carry out tests...and it is extremely regrettable that the government has given the public an expectation that this will happen".

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union the NAHT, said schools would "struggle to have testing ready for the start of term" if further details were not released until after Christmas.

Tonight Dr Hyde said: "Schools stand ready to play a part, but they need to be consulted and reassured that plans will work. For too many, there is a lack of confidence in a government department that has let schools down too frequently.

"For these reasons, HMC stands with the other school unions in advising our members that the current plan is not deliverable. Independent school heads and their state colleagues have done everything possible to keep children educated, but they cannot turn their schools into emergency clinics in a few working days.

"It is time for the secretary of state to understand that the aspirations of central government need much more thorough planning and engagement if they are to be successful. HMC remains willing to help make that happen."

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