JOHN Masefield High School outperformed 75 per of secondary schools in England, by making it possible for all of its 800 pupils to return to class on Monday.

But the school said this was only down to an “intense” undertaking from its Covid testing team.

The majority of secondary schools have started with a phased return this week, but not so the Ledbury high school, where staff and volunteers went more than the extra mile last week, with early mass Covid testing, to ensure full classrooms from the off.

Andy Collard deputy headmaster said: “It's been intense and a huge amount of time to prepare but we were determined to make sure that all students could come back on Monday!

“I hear that around 75 per cent of secondary schools are having phased returns, but thanks to the incredible work of our testing team and phenomenal support from parents and carers, we've managed to complete the first phase of testing and we've moved onto the second phase now.”

Meanwhile, there is praise for the way the students have responded to the many new challenges.

Mr Collard added: “We've been so impressed with students on their return. There has been a collective acknowledgement on their part that we've done all we can to manage their return and in turn they've reciprocated by bringing and wearing face coverings, behaving sensibly, and engaging well with learning.”

To ensure that all students could return on Monday March 8, the high school organised for over 800 lateral flow tests for students on Thursday March 4 and Friday March 5.

Mr Collard said: “This was possible thanks to an incredible effort from the JMHS testing team which has been brilliantly supported by the school community.

“Students being tested have been very well supported.”

All schools in the country are having to get used to a new pack drill.

Students in England will be tested for Covid-19 three times in the first two weeks of school, and afterwards they will be given two tests each week to use at home.

These are the lateral flow tests, which involve taking a swab of the nose and throat. The sample is then inserted into a tube of liquid and gives a result within 30 minutes.

Testing is voluntary and children will only be tested in school if a parent or carer has given consent. Pupils will not be stopped from returning to school if they do not agree to be tested, or are unable to take a test.

Staff or pupils who test positive should self-isolate. If the test is done at home, they should also book a second test at a local test centre to confirm the result.

It was a cheerful return to school for youngsters at Ledbury Primary, and balloons played a big part.

Headteacher, Julie Rees said: “Ledbury Primary School pupils were greeted with banners and balloons, donated by the school’s PTA, on arrival on Monday morning after lockdown.

“It was lovely to see and hear the school buzzing again with full classrooms after eight weeks of having less than a quarter of pupils in. So as to not cross bubbles, phase assemblies were held throughout the morning – something which hasn’t happened since before the first lockdown. Each assembly was based on smiling and what a difference a smile can make to everyone.”

She added: “To see the children's smiling faces this morning was a joy. We are very thankful to the PTA who really made school look fabulous as the children arrived. The school atmosphere is one of positivity and determined to succeed attitude from staff and pupils.”