AN OLDHAM headteacher has said a phased return to the classroom would have been preferable to to the Government’s so-called ‘big bang approach’.

The headteacher of Blessed John Henry Newman RC College, Glynn Potts, has said he would have welcomed a staggered return for “a number of reasons”.

“Firstly, my priority now is my Year 11s who don’t know what they’re coming back to in terms of examinations and therefore we could probably have benefitted from giving them a little more time to access teachers in preparation for that.

“Secondly, the last time we were all out and came back in it was September and then we had the spike in October and November, so I’m not too sure that this is going to be any different unless the vaccine rollout really takes hold and makes a difference,” he said.

Sir Keir Starmer has repeatedly called for teachers to be vaccinated. During an appearance on LBC the Labour leader said: “We just had half-term and I said to the Government, use that to vaccinate teachers and school staff before we go back to school. They didn't do it and it is frustrating."

Mr Potts agrees, saying having teachers vaccinated “removes the need for additional constraints in schools” meaning schools are “better able to keep children in education, which helps mum and dad.”

The government has also announced there will be mass Covid testing in secondary schools, with parents expected to carry out the testing at home, after three tests in school.

Mr Potts said the problem with at-home testing is: “You lose the control of it being done properly and you therefore introduce greater variability.”

“Mum and dad want to get out the door and get to work in the morning they’re not going to want to shove a 30 cm swab up their lad’s nose or throat, or wherever it’s meant to go now, so I can see it being a gesture but I’m not sure it will do much more than just monitoring the symptoms,” he added.

The prime minister has confirmed that from March 8 all schools in England are returning and attendance is compulsory with penalty fines able to be imposed.