A HEADTEACHER has lifted the lid on problems faced by schools during the coronavirus crisis.

It comes after head teachers at Gateshead’s ten secondary schools wrote to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, to express their concerns over the lack of clarity and support which they say is necessary to continue to provide an education to the borough's young people.

The open letter asks for clarity on three issues; communication, coronavirus testing and additional funding.

Steve Haigh, head teacher at Whickham School, said: “This isn’t about playing the blame game, it’s about doing the right thing and doing things as safely as possible.

“We get updated guidance very regularly with particular reference to education.

“The guidance keeps changing and we’re given very little indication as to what is changing.

“You have to read through the whole guidance to see what is changing, and sometimes it is ‘should’ to ‘must’, which is very significant.”

Mr Haigh urged the Government to send “clear messages” on the crisis. He continued: “We need a clear message, not just for young people but parents as well. It takes up a lot of time for senior people in schools going through the guidance and interpreting it.”

Mr Haigh warned that problems accessing testing and delays getting results slows down reaction to coronavirus cases. If someone has coronavirus symptoms and they cannot get a test they have to isolate at home for 14 days. But those they have been in contact with can only be sent home if there is a positive test result.

He said: “If we have a positive case in school we have to make sure that all close contacts with that individual are sent home and isolate at home.

“If someone has symptoms we cannot put that in place unless we know they’re positive or not.”

Mr Haigh also said that it could cost his school up to £100,000 to hire supply teachers to cover those self-isolating.

He added: "They’re telling us to cover that from our budget but this budget will run out, it is not a sustainable position. ”

A DfE spokesperson said that school funding has seen its biggest increase for a decade. The spokesperson said: “The number of coronavirus cases in schools remains low, and testing capacity is the highest it has ever been."