Vast majority of parents refuse to give permission for Covid testing of their children at Halifax secondary school

The return to school on Monday will see 10 million students, teachers and staff begin to mix again once more – a fifth of England’s population.

As part of the deal, all secondary students in England must be tested three times at school in the first two weeks of their return, plus once at home.

Following that, they’ll have to test themselves at home twice a week for the foreseeable future. For some schools, the first challenge has been getting consent from parents for testing to take place.

The headteacher of the Halifax Academy, Matt Perry, has managed to get just 27% of parents to give their consent so far. He told ITV: “Some didn't want their child being tested, it's as simple as that.

"Some didn't trust the efficacy of the lateral flow device testing and they said 'look, this doesn't give us any information, what's the point?'

"And some were mistrusting of the government and also couldn't afford to isolate should it be a positive test."

Without the consent of all parents, the testing regime risks being undermined, providing only partial reassurance that Covid-19 is not circulating among the students.

Exclusive polling for ITV News of more than 200 schools has revealed the strain mass testing of students is placing on the sector.

Seventy eight per cent of headteachers say they expect to sacrifice significant teaching time in order to carry out the tests, with staff and resources diverted to the task. And only 41% of schools thought the lateral flow tests would keep them safe.

Only 9% of schools said they had near complete consent - above 95% of parents allowing their child to be tested.

Only 40% of schools had consent rates above 85%, while a significant number of schools are struggling to even get half of parents to consent.

While an end to home schooling will undoubtedly bring much relief, it won’t be without risk.