The government told the media last night that the military will be “on standby”  to support secondary schools and colleges with Covid-19 testing from next week.

Details on how to request the support has not yet been published.

What FE Week has been told is a deal has been agreed by the Ministry of Defence to make 1,500 armed forces personnel available to support the Department for Education and Department for Health and Social Care through the Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA) process.

A DfE spokesperson said: “The majority of personnel will form local response teams, providing support and phone advice to institutions needing guidance on the testing process and set-up of the testing facilities.

“This will be done predominantly through webinars and individual meetings, but teams will also be on standby to deploy at short notice to provide in-person support to resolve any issues in the situations where testing would otherwise not be able to go ahead. Schools and colleges will shortly be provided with further information on how to request additional support if needed.

“A small team of planners is embedded in the Department for Health and Social care who are supporting the Department for Education to help coordinate the support. The majority of personnel will be on task from this week as they start to conduct training.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson added:  “It is a true cross-government effort to make sure secondary schools and colleges have the support, guidance, materials and funding they need to offer rapid testing to their staff and students from the start of term.

“I am grateful to the armed forces personnel, and all the school and college staff, leaders and volunteers working to put testing in place. This will help break chains of transmission, fight the virus, and help deliver the national priority of keeping education open for all.”

Last week the government announced that £78 million will be made available for the rollout of rapid mass Covid-19 testing of secondary school and college students from January 4.