COVID-19 Testing

How has COVID-19 affected education in the UK?

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Welcome to take 10 with Wren! Our new podcast style series where we speak to real people affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, and the challenges it has presented within their industry. 

In this episode we are looking at how the coronavirus pandemic has affected education in the UK. 

Our Call Centre Manager George Wicks speaks with Melanie from Malvern College in the UK. Melanie is Head Nurse at the Private School located in Malvern Hills, Worcestershire.

Founded in 1865, the college currently has 650 pupils enrolled aged between 13 and 19. Additionally there are around 310 pupils aged 3 to 13 studying at The Downs, Malvern College Prep School in nearby Colwall.

Among the alumni of the college are at least two commonwealth prime ministers, two Nobel Laureates (five Novel Prizes including prep school alumni), and an Olympic Gold Medalist!

How did COVID-19 Effect The School?

The school houses students from both overseas and the UK. When the pandemic hit and restrictions on travel were imposed overnight, they were given an immediate responsibility to get their students home as safely and as quick as possible.

During the first lockdown, it was possible to travel without requiring a test for travel and fit to fly certificate. Initially travel was restricted, but upon the realization that students and others could be stranded in the UK for the entire lockdown, people were permitted to travel for urgent reasons.

Overlooking Malvern College

Malvern’s Response

Malvern College were able to send all of their students home safely within the first week of April, a testament to their team in an emergency situation. No sooner had the students arrived home, the school began structuring a plan on how to safely return their students to the College.

“Everyone had been on lockdown and we were all coming back into a school environment… we needed to know exactly what we needed to do to keep the place clean, who we could see down in the medical centre. (The pandemic) absolutely flipped everything in the school on its head. As soon as we went into lockdown we were having meetings about how we can get back to school in September”

With Parents wanting to know that their child had been tested and were able to return home, Malvern began its search for test providers. Upon finding Wren Healthcare through a quick internet search, Melanie called into our contact centre to arrange for their students to be tested.

Wren Healthcare & Malvern College

After Malvern College contacted us, explaining their needs, Wren Healthcare were able to provide a tailored service, ensuring all pupils would be cared for and tested in a timely and efficient manner.

“Having a company that could come in and just handle the testing and us not have to worry about it was amazing. (We) couldn’t have asked for a better service!”

Melanie states that being able to have “A nurse to nurse conversation helped massively… The parents were reassured that we had chosen a company that wasn’t just set up for COVID, but were a healthcare company doing other things.”

Wren Healthcare were able to provide the school with around 60 tests for their students, helping them to get back home and spend time during the pandemic with their loved ones, as well as focus on their education at the college.

How has education been affected by COVID-19 in the UK?

1. Schools

Education has been affected by COVID-19 in many ways. The pandemic is a health crisis that has changed the way day to day life works on a global scale. Schools, Universities, Colleges and work places have all been forced to close, in order to protect the health of the human population.

The choice between keeping the economy alive and trying to save lives has been an incredibly difficult balance to find.

Many schools have adapted by teaching in virtual classrooms over video calls and home schooling. Assessments have been moved online, and a great deal of trial and error has become a huge part of the adaption to the pandemic in all walks of life.

Students were encouraged to keep studying at home with many parents becoming responsible for their children’s education. BBC bitesize provided a huge range of resources to help young people and parents; and as a result the Bitesize website received 1.6 million individual users on the day it’s lockdown learning program was launched.

2. Students & Mental Health

Beyond the concerns of keeping the economy alive and allowing students to attend their place of education, there is also another growing factor. It is proven that how we spend our educational years has a vast effect on us in our lives; not just for intellectual and learning skills, but for the ways that we learn about social environments and how to form relationships.

Our School life has a huge effect on our mental health and provides routine and stability for many young people. Schools can be a way of providing protective factors for young people’s mental health.

The “New Normal” is something that children of all ages have now been forced to adapt to. Relationships with friends, teachers, parents and siblings have been among many of the concerns for young people. This, combined with the threat to their own and other people’s health from the virus, mean that many young people have reported increased levels of feelings of anxiety and depression.

3. Parents

It isn’t just children that have been affected by the pandemic and the change in the education systems. Many parents found themselves needing to ‘step up’ and become a formal educator, as well as a parent and source of entertainment. Balancing this whilst working from home became a staple requirement for many parents within the UK. 

According to between 7th May and 7th June 2020, 87% of parents said a child in their household had been home schooled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

What type of tests are currently being used in UK Schools?

rapid antigen test on top of COVID masks on a desk

In the UK, the most common form of testing being used in schools is the Rapid Antigen Lateral Flow Test.

Asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) students can be tested. These tests enable results to be given within 15-20 minutes and are currently provided to public schools in the UK by the UK Government. 

If you have symptoms for the coronavirus (COVID-19), even after receiving a negative COVID Lateral Flow test result, should still self-isolate immediately according to the government guidelines.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should also get tested either by booking an NHS test online or by visiting a test site. A lab based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is required to check if you have the virus.

Tests needed in Private Schools

A challenge that international schools face is their students may require a PCR test with a fit to fly certificate for whenever they are due to travel home, and the option of a test to release when returning to the UK.

New legislation also require anyone returning to the UK to take a test on day 2 and day 8 of their 10 day self-isolation. It is expected for those returning to still quarantine for the full 10 days with these tests, even if the results are negative.

If you would like to reduce your quarantine time, it is possible to take a private Test To Release at an additional cost. This test can be taken on the 5th full day of your self-isolation. If you receive a negative result from this test, you are able to stop your quarantine from the moment you get your results. IMPORTANT: You will still need to take your Day 8 test even if you have a test to release.

To see the full requirements and government guidelines please click here.

If you have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and would like to tell us your story, please get in contact using the details below.

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, nurse or student we would love to hear from you. 

Email us at or fill in the contact us form below.

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