Schools in South East react to delay in pupils' return and mass testing

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Malcolm Shaw

Schools have been reacting to news that secondary school pupils won't be returning after the Christmas break for at least two weeks. 

The government says it is to allow time for staff to set up the mass testing of pupils.

However many schools feel that they don't have enough expertise in this area, and logistically they simply 'don't have the space'.   

Jules White is the Headteacher of Tanbridge House School in Horsham and says the expectation of mass testing in school at the moment is 'far fetched'.

He says: "I have over 1500 students in my school and the idea that perhaps I'm going to have to do mass testing on a daily basis for 250 teenagers is frankly pretty far fetched. I haven't got the resources, I haven't got the staff, and most of all I haven't got the expertise."

Four days before mass testing is due to begin at the school Horsham, Mr White says he has seen no sign of a lateral flow kit.

"I haven't even got any tests in my school, and here I am on New Year's Eve with children due to come in on the 4th. I want to do the testing, I want to do it safely, but where are the army because I've not seen them."

The government announced on Wednesday it was delaying some pupils' return to schools in England amid rising coronavirus rates.

All pupils in exam years will return to secondary schools from January 11, while the rest of secondary and college students will go back full-time on January 18 - a delay to the planned return to school .

Asked if exams will definitely go ahead for pupils sitting their GCSEs and A-Levels, Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Absolutely. On January 4, all year 11 and year 13 pupils will be starting their remote education after the Christmas break.

"On January 11, every year 11 and year 13 pupil will be returning back to schools for face-to-face teaching. We're prioritising them as we recognise for them to have the best life chances, they need to be in school."