HEADTEACHERS have written to MPs as they seek priority testing for Covid-19 and pandemic costs to be reimbursed.

Heads in Oxfordshire have joined hundreds of others across the country as part of the Worth Less? campaign.

As a matter of urgency, heads are asking that staff working in schools be prioritised for coronavirus tests, while the costs of Covid-19 related expenditure be fully reimbursed with a clear, transparent and standardised system for making such claims.

There are also calls for the publication of contingency plans for GCSE and A-levels, taking into account the ‘lost learning time’ for students, and the wider mental health and other pressures they have faced.

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Rob Shadbolt, headteacher at Wood Green School in Witney, said: “This coordinated action writing to MPs across the country is a plea for help from a sector that is working in challenging circumstances to remain open so that our nation’s children receive the best possible education.

“We all recognise the challenges of decision making during such uncertain times, but the confusion caused already by indecision over reopening schools, exam grading in the summer, slow test and tracing, free school meals and late issuing of guidance has already impacted on school children and removes confidence.

“Looking ahead, we have no reassurance that back-up plans even exist if exams are affected again, never mind what these plans are.

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“The stress on students in those exam years, whose education has already been so affected, is immense.

“Also, in our school we have over 100 adults who come to work in a busy environment every day to ensure education goes on and there is little recognition of the position they are putting themselves in everyday in order to help.

“Our letters to our MPs ask for clarity and timely communication so that we can manage this situation together to help students, staff and all our families to stay safe and keep learning.”

Heads have also asked that phonics screening tests, including those next month, and SATs be replaced by teacher assessments in the summer of 2021.

There are also requests that when staffing levels are insufficient, heads should be given the discretion to introduce a rota system.

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Headteacher at Gillotts School in Henley, Catharine Darnton, added: “School leaders are making huge efforts to keep their schools open and providing education.

“With staff affected by Covid-19, including those self-isolating, the cost of employing supply staff to cover is very significant.

“Added to additional costs for cleaning and hand sanitising, it is imperative that the Government provides additional funds to schools to compensate.

“School funding has fallen in real terms since 2010 and schools simply can’t meet the costs of staying open without support.”