ASCL responds to government announcement on spring term arrangements

30/12/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders responds to the Education Secretary’s announcement today on arrangements for the spring term in England. 
 
Responding to the Education Secretary’s announcement today on arrangements for the spring term in England, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

The decision to further delay face-to-face teaching for secondary pupils is unsurprising in the light of rising Covid infection rates and the new strain of the virus, and seems sensible in these extreme circumstances

Nobody wants to see children out of school but the difficult balancing act between keeping education fully open and suppressing transmission of the virus has clearly swung in the direction of tackling the immediate public health crisis.

However, we are concerned that the government is assuming that it will be business as normal for the majority of primary schools from the start of term. 

The government needs to urgently explain why it considers the full resumption of primary education to be safe in most areas despite alarming infection rates.

While the new arrangements allow a little more time for mass Covid testing to be rolled out in secondary schools and colleges, we remain concerned about the huge logistical challenge of recruiting and training large numbers of staff to run testing centres.

The support being provided by the government for this task is not sufficient, and we will continue to discuss with ministers and officials how this might be improved

Schools and colleges will be frustrated that the new arrangements for the spring term have once again been communicated late and after days of speculation.

We appreciate this is a fast-developing situation but the government has made a habit of chaotic eleventh hour announcements which leave schools and colleges picking up the pieces.”