Teachers victims of 'government hit and run' on Suffolk schools' testing

Dave Lee-Allan in front of Stowmarket High School

Dave Lee-Allan is frustrated by the changes to the start of next term. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Government proposals to introduce Covid testing at schools across the country have been described as a "hit and run" by the Department for Education by a senior Suffolk headteacher.

Dave Lee-Allan, head of Stowmarket High School and chair of the Suffolk Association of Secondary Heads, said that the government announcement that the return to classes at the start of next term would be staggered was giving schools little time to prepare.

He said: "It's rather what we've come to expect, a sort of hit and run on schools. They make an announcement like this at the end of the week or the end of term and just expect us all to get on with it.

"We're now expected to get on with things and make the preparations. They've said we should do some work until Christmas Eve and then have a rest until January 4 - but there's a lot to do."

The government is coming up with suggestions for how schools might meet the challenge, but Mr Lee-Allan said this was just advice on what could be done.

"There is a long document which says that we might consider taking on temporary staff to carry out the tests or employ an agency or volunteers - and that there might be funding for that made available."

In his school there was not the space to carry out the kind of testing that was being advised - and he was worried about what parents might think about the proposals.

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Mr Lee-Allan said: "I haven't had a test myself, but I'm told it isn't very pleasant. How are parents going to react if they're told that a teacher or a volunteer is going to stick something up their child's nose after 30 minutes' training watching a video?"

There were also issues that any temporary staff or volunteers would have to go through normal criminal record checks before being able to work with children.

He added: "It's the kind of planning we've seen from the Department for Education all the time over the last year - we've seen it with closing the schools in the first place, in exams, in reopening again. Everything is done at the last minute with very little help."