Covid: Unions say English student mass exams are ‘irreversible’ School

The unions told members not to work on the project during the holidays after the government’s plans for the mass covid test of secondary students were frustrated after Christmas, branding it “disabled” and “inevitable”.

A statement from the four major teaching unions and the National Governance Association advised employees to delay preparation before the start of the January 4 or 5 deadline and refuse to work on the project during the Christmas break.

The statement said, “Our view is that due to the chaotic and hasty nature of this announcement, lack of proper direction and lack of proper assistance, the government’s plan in its current form is unfit for most schools and colleges.”

“Schools and colleges simply do not have the staff to carry on. As such, most will not be in a position to perform it in a safe and effective manner. ”

The Royal Statistical Society said there were “major concerns” that government plans could be unsafe because tests should be used “incompletely and with extreme care” and called on ministers to “review them on an urgent basis”.

The Department for Education announced on Thursday that the return of high school students to England would be delayed by a week and that instead of distance learning for most age groups, schools would be allowed to test all students using a quick side flow test.

Students in secondary schools and colleges should be given two quick tests every three days in the first week of the term, with positive results confirmed by lab-based PCR tests.

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However, the government’s plan was controversial due to the lack of details and the announcement of schools closed during the Christmas holidays.

In a measure of DFE’s frustration with completing its own work on the program, the Guardian learned that civilian employees in the department were paid a 1,000 bonus if they volunteered at Christmas. DFE Permanent Secretary Susan Auckland-Hood announced the offer to staff on Thursday.

DFE’s announcements did not include any additional pay for school staff working during the holidays. School leaders have already been asked to call by December 23 to track and track students who tested positive for the virus at the end of the term.

Teachers and principals have told parents that fatigue comes at the end of “a year of hell.” “I know chiefs who haven’t stopped since March and it’s not sustainable. At best we work 50-plus hours a week. Now some teachers are pushing for more than 700, ”said Matt David, a teacher.

The four main unions – the National Association of Headmasters (NHT), the School and College Leadership Association (ASCL), the National Education Union and the NASWWT, have consulted, reflecting deep protests among teachers over DFE’s latest demands, and more details just before Christmas. Failure.

Paul Whitman, general secretary of the NAHT, said that while teachers supported the use of mass exams, there was not enough time to safely organize the screening of hundreds of students packed in a few days by January 4th.

“Due to the lack of detailed direction or coherent planning, we do not believe that schools or colleges will be able to start working on this before the next term begins. If the government decides not to implement the plan, which approves it, considering their plans invalid in their school, we will fully support them, “Whiteman said, adding that the DFE had identified his plan as an” offer. “

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Geoff Burton, general secretary of ASCL, said: “It is not possible to recruit and train all the people needed to conduct examinations and set up the necessary procedures during Christmas and it is extremely sad that the government has given the public an expectation that this will happen. “

Schools Minister Nick Gibb held a one-hour briefing for MPs on a brief notice on Friday, and schools were unable to address their concerns about whether they would be given the resources needed to run the program.

“It was just awful,” said one person on the call. “The thing that really annoyed people is that he said several times: ‘This is good news.’

The Royal Statistical Society said there were concerns about the scientific basis and protection of government plans for school exams and “inaccuracies and inaccuracies in the information provided to schools by DFE”, noting that Liverpool missed exams more than exams. Positive cases with high viral load 30% Half.

“In the school’s new experimental program, people who have been exposed and tested negative will still be at significant risk of contracting Covid-19 and spreading it to others,” it said.

The late announcement of the government was also shared by school governors, whose national representatives were shocked at Gibb’s advice that they had volunteered.

Sam Henson of the National Governance Association said: “We have heard from many members today who are just angry. Some say they must support their communities and do what they can, while others think it is simply completely inappropriate. It is believed that schools have this bank of volunteers, which is not true

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A chair of governors tweeted: “None of us have the opportunity to volunteer for this. We have surveillance, without hands, of course we do not have extra power to help the government. I have some time during the day but it crosses a line.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said: “We’ve been calling for public testing for months now, it’s really important to do it – but its implementation was revealed in the most half-baked way in the week before Christmas, when school leaders and staff were exhausted. It’s really frustrating. “

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