A headmaster shared the importance of summer exams for Year 13s this year, after many had their GCSE's cancelled in 2020.

Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury started their Spring Term this week by testing each year group for Covid, as per the new mandatory requirement for secondary schools.

On the school's hopes for this academic year in the face of previous disruptions to learning, Headmaster Stuart Smallwood said: “My one hope is for as normal a year as possible.”

In particular, he emphasised the importance that exams go ahead, particularly for those aged 17 to 18 who are in their final year of sixth form, many of whom were not able to take their GCSEs.

“Our students are pretty engaged with learning and they desperately need the summer exams,” he said.

“I think they feel that too because they don’t want to be the generation where people look at them and say, you’re a bit different aren’t you because you didn’t do the tests.”

Between Monday and Tuesday they tested nearly 1200 students from oldest to youngest using lateral flow tests.

Out of nearly 1200 students, they recorded only four positive lateral flow tests through at-school testing and have only 17 cases of students isolating at home.

Wearing face coverings in classrooms also became a mandatory requirement for schools, Dr Smallwood saying that ‘compliance is very high’ as a mask wearing policy has been in place since late September, when the school experienced a spike in cases.

In terms of their contingency plan if there is another spike in cases, he said that they have good remote working facilities but added: “We will do everything we need to do to keep the school open.”

Wiltshire Public Health Director Kate Blackburn thanked local schools for their ‘hard work and support’ at a press conference on Tuesday, January 12.

She said: “I have no doubt their Christmas break was interrupted by having to ensure they were kept abreast of the most recent information and actually the return to schools has gone really well.”

Rather than getting complacent however, Mrs Blackburn added: "‘With schools having gone back, I’m pertaining anticipating an uptick in case rate".

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