Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “It is extremely disappointing that what had the potential to be good news has been handled so badly by government. The government is in danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory once again.
“The use of lateral flow tests in schools has potential to make a positive impact by helping to break chains of transmission early. But this requires not only sufficient tests but also the trained staff to administer them. The government appears able to deliver on one but not the other - it is delivering testing kits to secondary schools without the staff, the training or the clinical supervision to carry them out effectively.
“Removing school staff from the classroom and retraining them to administer clinical tests is a deeply flawed proposal. Schools and parents alike will want every education professional focused on supporting pupils to catch-up on lost learning throughout the Spring term.
“The government must look at alternatives to asking school staff to administer these tests. One solution could be to use the volunteers who signed up earlier in the year to support the NHS. They could be trained, accredited and insured and then sent in to support schools. This could then be expanded further if it was seen to be successful.
“Whilst the intent to make regular testing available to all secondary staff is welcome, we are extremely concerned that self-administered tests are not being made available to primary school staff too. We know that social distancing is incredibly difficult when working with younger pupils and as such it seems only right that they also have access to regular Covid tests. The same goes for staff in the SEND sector.”
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