More than 900 students tested for Covid at Harborough secondary school – and not one was positive

The headteacher has thanked staff, pupils and parents for their support

More than 900 students have been tested for Covid at a Market Harborough secondary school – and not one was positive.

The 11-16-year-olds were given the lateral flow test at Welland Park Academy as they returned to school last week after the Christmas and New Year break.

Julie McBrearty, head at the Welland Park Road school, told the Harborough Mail this afternoon: “We are doing ever so well here and these tests on site went very well.

The 11-16-year-olds were given the lateral flow test at Welland Park Academy as they returned to school last week after the Christmas and New Year break.

“Over 90 per cent of our students had the lateral flow test - that’s over 900 of our total cohort.

“And not one of them tested positive for the coronavirus,” said Julie, who’s celebrating 10 years as principal at Welland Park Academy.

“We are obviously delighted about that.

“It was a massive logistical exercise.

“We carried out the tests over a day and a half in our sports hall.

“I want to give full credit to our team which masterminded this special event.

“They run a very well-oiled machine and it couldn’t have gone any better.

“I also want to pay a huge tribute to both our pupils and their parents, families and carers.

“They are clearly doing the right thing if none of them have caught the virus over the festive holidays,” said Julie.

“And they have totally bought in to what we are doing here to fight the Covid pandemic after the new Omicron strain has led to a rise in cases across the entire country.

“Both parents and students have been incredibly good keeping bang up to date with all the latest medical developments and health guidance relating to the virus.

“We really appreciate their support for us as we all battle on together.”

The school’s vastly-experienced head said they have also been “incredibly lucky” with the mere handful of teachers they’ve lost to Covid over the last few weeks amid a national staff crisis.

“We have over 100 staff here at Welland Park Academy.

“And we only have two teachers off today suffering from Covid, a tiny percentage,” revealed Julie.

“We also have two regular supply teachers who are excellent and are very comfortable coming to work here.

“We are continuing to impose and implement very stringent measures here to help prevent the virus spreading and keeping everyone safe.

“We have sanitiser available for students to wash their hands, we ask them to keep their distance and we operate a strict one-way system.

“We recommend that children wear face coverings and we leave it up to their discretion,” said Julie.

“Our teachers don’t wear masks while they are teaching but they do while moving around.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be able to keep our school open as usual.

“This time last year the country had been locked down again and we were closed.

“I am proud of us all here that we are managing so well – even as the Covid pandemic goes on.

“Learning is a hugely-collaborative experience.

“We all did our best when our pupils were having to learn virtually at home for long periods of time.

“But there is no substitute for students actually filing in to the classroom and learning alongside their friends again and coming face-to-face with our teachers.

“They get the chance to do extra-curricular activities again, run around on the football pitch and enjoy the fantastic school and facilities that we’ve got here.

“And some of our students have been sitting vocational exams such as sports studies and engineering design over the last couple of days.

“All being well we are all looking forward to a relatively normal exam season this spring and summer after so much disruption and uncertainty over the last two years.

“We have staged career interviews here with professionals and organisations such as the armed forces visiting the school,” said Julie, whose school has just under 1,000 pupils.

“It’s very exciting for students to plan and look ahead to what they are going to do next in their lives.

“We are going into our third academic year coping with the Covid pandemic.

“I am proud of everyone at Welland Park Academy, our students, their families, our teachers and staff, in how we’ve dealt with it.

“And we are all looking forward here to a very positive and very exciting 12 months as we make the best possible start to 2022.”

Julie spoke as the vast majority of pupils at Learn-AT’s 11 primary schools in the Harborough area are attending lessons as normal despite the Omicron surge locally.

A spokeswoman for the Lubenham-based Trust said they are “continuing to follow Government guidance closely and where Covid cases occur they are following the Leicestershire and Rutland Covid-19 Outbreak Management Plan for Education Settings”.

“The percentage of pupils absent from school today with Covid is less than 5 per cent of the total number of pupils across our 11 schools,” she said.