NASUWT calls for ‘coordinated national plan’
Teachers need “urgent clarification” over a range of issues for schools to safely reopen in September, a leading union has said.
The NASUWT teachers’ union has asked the government for more information, including over how classroom teaching will carry on in the event of staff absences and what extra support will be available to help schools establish a safe return
Their general secretary said “a significant number of measures” laid out in the guidance for a full reopening in September “require additional resources” in a letter to the education secretary, which urged the government to address the concerns of teachers and school leaders before all students are welcomed back in two months’ time.
“How schools will be able to fund these additional expectations is a key question we are being asked,” Dr Patrick Roach said in the letter to Gavin Williamson.
As well as mentioning extra funding, NASUWT said teachers and headteachers have also raised questions around protections for clinically vulnerable staff and extra cleaning provisions.
Dr Roach also urged Mr Williamson to address concerns over “the logistical challenge” of getting enough school transport so children from different year groups and schools would not have to mix.
He asked the education secretary to design a ”coordinated national plan” for the safe and full reopening of schools in September that addresses the ”many practical and logistical issues” teachers and headteachers have raised.
The Department for Education (DfE) said last week “detailed plans” have been released for schools and colleges in England to welcome back all students from September following disruption due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Certain year groups, including Year 1 and Year 6, were allowed back from the start of June.
Mr Williamson has said it will be “compulsory” for all pupils to go back to school in September.
“The NASUWT recognises the importance of schools reopening to all children as soon as it is safe to do so,” Dr Roach, the general secretary, said.
“Schools have only a few weeks before they close for the summer break,” he added. “Teachers and headteachers need urgent clarification from the DfE if they are to be able to meet the guidance on September reopening consistently and safely.”
Dr Roach’s letter to the education secretary also called for clarity in the event of a confirmed case of Covid-19 in a school and to ensure the priority for coronavirus testing includes teachers.
DfE said last week guidance published ”provides schools, colleges and nurseries with the details needed to plan for a full return, as well as reassuring parents about what to expect for their children”.
The education secretary said: “The very best place for children to be is in the classroom, which is why we have set out our plans for all young people to return to education full-time from September.”
Mr Williamson added: “I want to reassure parents and families that we are doing everything we can to make sure schools are as safe as possible for children and staff, and will continue to work closely with the country’s best scientific and medical experts to ensure that is the case.”