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Herne Bay head teachers’ anger as pupils miss school due to testing fiasco

Dozens of pupils are missing lessons because they have been unable to obtain coronavirus tests – prompting fears from disgruntled head teachers that children could fall behind.

As many as 85 youngsters from Herne Bay High School are not attending classes as they continue to wait for the all-clear.

Herne Bay High principal Jon Boyes says as many as 85 pupils are currently missing classes
Herne Bay High principal Jon Boyes says as many as 85 pupils are currently missing classes

And since last week, four members of staff have remained at home as they waited to learn whether they had the virus.

Principal Jon Boyes said: “I’ve got staff off at the minute waiting to get tested, and that has an ongoing impact that’s to the detriment of young people.

“If I had a member of staff going home today, the likelihood of them being able to get a test within the next 24 hours or 48 hours is pretty minimal. One of my staff could not get a test anywhere in Kent last week.

“What will happen is the house of cards will fall down; we’ll have a tipping point where we won’t have the staff in school as they’ll all be isolating waiting for tests.”

A major backlog nationwide, worsened by the reopening of schools, has resulted in people across the county being unable to secure a test - or sent to test centres hundreds of miles away.

Reculver Primary School head teacher Jenny Ashley-Jones
Reculver Primary School head teacher Jenny Ashley-Jones

A survey conducted by the National Association of Head Teachers shows more than 80% of schools across England have pupils absent because they cannot secure a test.

“I’ve got about 85 students across our school who aren’t in due to a Covid-related issue, whether that’s because of a family quarantine or if they have minor symptoms waiting to be tested,” Mr Boyes continued.

“There will be more children out of education and they won’t be able to cover the course. It’s wrong."

In the face of the problems, the Department for Education has announced it will provide more home-testing kits for schools.

Reculver Primary head teacher Jenny Ashley-Jones says her pupils have been affected as well.

“We have had about four children who have been off for a number of days because they haven’t been able to get a test,” she said.

“We’re lucky that staff haven’t been impacted in the same way. If I had a member of staff in the same situation, it’s going to cause real problems for us as we’ll have classes led by teaching assistants.”

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