HEADTEACHERS have expressed concern at the way the Government has handled its decision to close schools and move all learning online.

Having initially said that schools are safe places for teachers and pupils, Boris Johnson announced in his public address on Monday January 4 that all schools and colleges will close to most pupils from Tuesday.

The U-turn from government has had far reaching repercussions on academic learning for both teachers and pupils, with A-levels and GCSEs cancelled again this year after the Prime Minister said summer tests were not “possible or fair”.

Dr Dorian Lewis, headteacher at Bournemouth School, said: “Whilst acknowledging the tributes that were made to the efforts of school staff and parents, it was disappointing for there not to have been an apology for the way in which decisions have been made and communicated. There continues to be an undercurrent of mistrust in the teaching profession and an unwillingness to engage in meaningful consultation.

“Nevertheless, the decision to firstly limit the number of students in school and then close schools until half term were taken suddenly, giving school leaders and parents very little time to make any necessary arrangements.”

Teachers and teaching assistants across the Dorset, and the rest of the country, who have remained in schools to facilitate keyworker children have expressed fears that they feel unsafe and unsupported in not being offered vaccines, he said.

“Many staff are understandably concerned about contracting Covid-19 and transmitting the virus to their loved ones at home.

“I would wish all staff to be offered the vaccine before all students return to school and hasten a return to some degree of normality.

“It is a great shame that the Secretary of State’s gratitude to school staff is not matched by a commitment to securing their future well-being and supporting their vaccination being prioritised.”

Dr Lewis listened with interest to the Secretary of State’s statement on Wednesday as Gavin Williamson announced that GCSE, AS and A-level exams in England will be replaced by school-based assessments.

On the government’s decision to cancel GCSE and A level exams, he said this was “always predictable”.

Dr Lewis added: “The awarding of examinations grades last year was a shamble and had a detrimental impact upon so many students, so clarity that teacher assessed grades will be used in this year is welcome.

“I hope that the system will ensure that grades are awarded fairly and consistently across the country.”

Headteacher at Bournemouth School for Girls Alistair Brien added: “It is vital that we get clarity as soon as possible as to what teacher assessments of grades will actually look like to ensure that they are as fair and consistent as possible across the country.

“I am glad to hear that they will be based on teachers’ judgments rather than algorithms. The difficulty will arise from the fact that for our year 11 pupils we don’t have any year 10 exams or currently any year 11 mocks to help us make these assessments.

“It will be important that for both year 11 and year 13 students we have some kind of short formal assessments on their return, most sensibly provided by the exam boards, to help us make these key judgments, which are so crucial for our young people as they move forward to the next stage of their education.”