Safety is Paramount Says Hammersmith Academy Headteacher

Covid testing regime in place as schools return

Pupils have taken two lateral flow tests ahead of the school term

With Covid cases still high in London, all secondary school pupils in H&F heading back to class this week took two lateral flow tests ahead of the new autumn term.

Hammersmith Academy in Shepherd’s Bush was just one of the local schools testing pupils to help stop the spread of Covid and minimise disruption to pupils’ learning.

Ottilie in Year 8 at the Cathnor Road school said, “It is really great to be back at school after the summer holiday. Testing is a good process which means we can all come back safely.”

While fellow Year 8 pupil Aochen was happy to be seeing classmates again following the summer holidays.

“It’s great to be back and see all my friends. The testing schools are doing makes sure everyone is safe and Covid is less likely to spread which makes me more comfortable,” said Aochen.

The new testing regime in secondary schools follows two tough years for young people after the exam chaos and online learning during the Covid pandemic. Schools are still awaiting guidance from the government on how next summer’s GCSE and A-level exams will be graded.

In the meantime, secondary school students are advised to continue taking two lateral flow tests a week at home to keep themselves and school staff safe.

Other safety measures taking place at local schools include implementing regular cleaning rotas, promoting hand hygiene and ensuring classrooms are well ventilated.

Hammersmith Academy headteacher Gary Kynaston says ‘safety is paramount’ as the school aims to support pupils’ academic and personal development.

“We are optimistic for a return to a more normal academic year,” Gary added.

“Students have been restricted in the kind of activities they have been able to do over the last 18 months, including the way they interact with their peers. Of course, safety of students and staff is paramount and the two lateral flow tests before students start their first day provides a layer of reassurance. The first set of tests identified asymptomatic cases which would otherwise not have been identified and shows that the virus is still present and that schools will need to remain vigilant in maintaining safety measures such as hand sanitising and washing as well as ventilation in classrooms.”

The academy has also supported students via a digital equality initiative supplying every student with a laptop to use at home during the pandemic.

“There is much to look forward to this year with a full restart to the after-school activities programme, school trips, school productions, charity events and school sports,” Gary said. “Our focus is very much on students’ academic and personal development and ensure that every child makes the progress they deserve.”

“Our local schools continue to do everything they can to give pupils in H&F the best chance to succeed as we continue to fight Covid,” said Cllr Larry Culhane, H&F Cabinet Member for Children and Education.

“Testing is one of the tools we have to keep pupils, their loved ones and school staff safe. We’re working with our local schools to ensure schools have everything they need to give our youngsters the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

H&F Council is working with local headteachers in partnership with local charity UNITED in H&F and social enterprise Ready Tech Go to support young people missing out on learning without digital devices or data.

So far enough has been raised to help 165 students but hundreds of local young people remain without – with more than 1,500 young people in H&F living in poverty and risk.

Anyone can give to the Tech4Kids appeal – especially local businesses – so more young people can start this new school year with the right equipment.

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September 13, 2021