THE Government must feel damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t, although the truth is it could have introduced the testing of school pupils quite a bit better.

With the pandemic moving fast – a 28 per cent increase in infections in the last week – the Government had to prepare for the schools’ return in the New Year, especially as we saw how inaction at the start of the university term in the autumn had caused a rise in infection.

But, again, its messages have been mixed. First, it threatened to prosecute schools which were worried about the local rates and so wanted to shut a few days early for Christmas – surely a sensible idea – and then it effectively announces schools are to shut for a week in the New Year (another sensible idea).

Then it rushes out the testing programme without explaining to schools how this ambitious, and worthwhile, idea is to be put into practice – who’s doing the testing: teachers, volunteers, agency staff, the army?

The Government’s drift is broadly in the right direction, but it is usually behind the curve and lacks the clear-sightedness to make its ideas operable.