Following concerns from members regarding the availability of COVID tests, the Chartered College of Teaching wrote to the Department of Health and Social Care to raise concerns and to seek information on greater coordination of testing for teachers. We are pleased to see that, since we sent this letter, teachers have been included on the priority list.
Read the full letter below:
Dear Lord Bethell,
I am writing to seek information on how we can support greater coordination of testing for teachers and ensure they can access the tests they need to combat preventable school closures and interruptions to teaching.
Recently I wrote to the Department for Education to express concern about a range of issues emerging in schools that are beyond the control of headteachers. Absence of staff and children due to suspected COVID symptoms is being exacerbated due to a lack of available testing for the virus. Many teachers are spending hours on the phone seeking a testing appointment only to be turned away to call again the next day. A Deputy Headteacher told me that they were turned away from a test centre because they were “not considered a key worker”. In another case, a newly appointed Deputy Headteacher was forced to run the school on their own as none of their senior colleagues were allowed into the building.
Apart from the obvious difficulty of teachers being required to self-isolate away from school, all this costs the school money. All at a time when teachers and leaders are also battling their own stresses and, in some cases, suffering lack of sleep and broken nights as they try to solve intractable problems.
There is a huge expectation on schools to provide the means for every youngster to ‘catch-up’ lost learning whilst also enabling them to rebuild connections and re-establish friendships. No headteacher wants to fracture this fragile time by sending classes home.
As Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, I am in frequent contact with tens of thousands of teachers and school leaders across England. The issues that I am hearing about are not aimed at point-scoring nor are they motivated by political bias. The reality in our schools at this moment is that our teachers and school leaders are being placed in an impossible situation.
I would welcome any assurances you can give to our profession on this.
Dame Alison Peacock
Chartered College of Teaching