Headteachers could end up working on Christmas Day to help prepare schools for mass Covid-19 testing, education chiefs have warned.
Plans to test secondary school and college pupils’ starting in January were announced by the Government last week, and it could mean headteachers will work over the festive break to put in place “11th hour” plans for testing.
Sam Henson, director of policy and information at the National Governance Association (NGA), said more detail was needed by teachers on how new coronavirus testing systems would be implemented in schools by the new year.
His comments came after the Government announced a staggered return for some students in the first week of January to help schools roll out mass testing of students.
Schools minister Nick Gibb has said the tests will be administered by volunteers and agency staff and details will be published next week.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Saturday, Mr Henson said teachers were “told at the 11th hour that they are going to have to deliver on something that they don’t have the detail for.
“What we’re going to end up with is headteachers and school leaders across the country working on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to put these plans in place.”
On Friday, the NGA, a membership organisation for governors, trustees and clerks of state schools in England, joined education unions and other professional associations in advising secondary schools and colleges they should not be forced to set up mass testing of students in January if they are unable to.
The guidance said: “Many of our organisations have been actively calling for such tests for some time.
“However, it is our view that due to the chaotic and rushed nature of this announcement, the lack of proper guidance, and an absence of appropriate support, the Government’s plan in its current form will be inoperable for most schools and colleges.”
Mr Henson told BBC Breakfast the responsibility for the systems put a “huge degree of pressure” on school leaders.
“I’m worried about the perception that this announcement has created. We’ve ended up in a situation where the public are led to believe schools have been told they have to do this and they’re being resourced to do this.
“We need to get the facts clear.”