A school in Tidworth has been praised for its Covid testing after its approach was taken up by schools across Wiltshire.

The Wellington Academy, on Tidworth Road, developed a testing programme for all pupils and staff over the Christmas holidays, when schools were meant to be reopening in January. However, following schools being closed until March, the scheme was put on hold.

Ahead of the reopening of schools on Monday, the testing was finally put into place, and proved so successful that other schools in the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust, which Wellington is a part of, took up the scheme too.

George Croxford, CEO of the trust, said: “Steven Paddock, headteacher of The Wellington Academy, absolutely nailed lateral flow testing between the announcement as schools closed for Christmas and what should have been the first day of students returning in January,” said George.

“Most headteachers around the country will have watched the video that the Department for Education put out on the last day of term, but Steven went one better and got his leadership to stay on an extra two hours to work on a system, and then developed it through the Christmas holidays. The Wellington Academy system was so far ahead of the curve that it was ready before the national mechanism to upload results was even completed.

“All our other schools in the Trust have followed the same system, as it is so swift and efficient – it is absolutely exemplary.”

The Wellington Academy demonstrated its procedures to other schools over the video calling platform Facetime, to demonstrate how to lay out facilities in the optimum way.

As a result of the work, Steven said the school is almost full, having been able to rapidly test all its students.

He said: “We were almost at capacity on Monday with 1038 students in school – the only ones who couldn’t make it were those who have a positive case within their family. The system is such that each student will only miss two periods out of 25 this week, so learning really can continue apace now.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without my wonderful colleagues, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep rotas going, from my executive assistant Anne-Marie Souster and student manager Sam Hadrick who have taken the entire testing programme over, to all those staff who gave up much of their Christmas holidays to work on the original planned testing scheme.

“It’s a real pleasure to welcome the entire school back today, and it’s all down to this great team effort.”