Kirklees NEU Briefing for Reps and Members
Coronavirus Update 2: 25th March 2020
Many thanks for everything you are doing to support our critical key workers at this time of National Crisis.
Yesterday, the General Secretaries from the NEU, ASCL and NAHT met with the Secretary of State for Education and advisors from Public Health England for a constructive discussion about how we support you and the children in your care to stay safe. Regular updates can be found here https://neu.org.uk/coronavirus-what-we-say-today
Please refer to the National Website for up to date advice on a number of FAQs https://neu.org.uk/advice/coronavirus-members
We are expecting National DfE guidance to schools to be updated today which will be accompanied by joint union advice where we can.
We have been working with our colleagues in the Learning Service and HR and taking part in regular meetings along with other Trade Union colleagues to feedback concerns and issues that are being raised by our members. These meeting have been very helpful and constructive as we work together to support staff and prevent the spread of the virus.
Most schools have worked hard to reduce the number of pupils in school to as few as possible and have arranged minimum staffing rotas to provide care for those children attending.
The logistics around school meals supply and delivery are being worked on and we know this has been a real concern for headteachers and staff.
It is clear that schools are no longer running as schools but should be seen as buildings that have been requisitioned to provide emergency childcare to vulnerable children and the children of key workers who aren’t able to make other arrangements. They should be operating on minimum staffing to work with those children. The government advice is that only essential key workers should be in work to do the essential work. All other staff should be working from home.
Whilst most schools are doing an excellent job and abiding by the Government instruction, we have been very concerned to hear of a handful of schools who are requiring staff to attend even if the numbers of pupils do not require it. Some are being directed to do non-essential work such as tidying up and doing displays. Whilst some managers may think this looks good it is in-fact pointless and puts pupils, our members, their families and the wider community at risk by unnecessarily increasing the risk of spreading the virus.
ADVICE FOR SUPPLY MEMBERS
We have been contacted by quite a few supply teachers, concerned about their livelihood, since the decision was made to effectively shut down schools to all children but those of essential workers.
The NEU expects schools to honour any commitments made to supply teachers before the onset of this crisis either written or verbal. Kirklees NEU is pressing all schools to do the right thing and asking reps to raise the issue with their head if necessary. Schools often engage supply staff to cover maternity leave, unfilled vacancies etc and these staff will have expected for this work to continue for a period of time. These staff will have been budgeted for and should not have their promise of work rescinded. The NEU believes schools have a responsibility to protect the livelihood of all education staff who have been engaged to provide an ongoing service to schools.
If you are a supply member who has had been engaged by a school but has now had that work cancelled please contact our Supply Members Officer, Mel Griffiths at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have a letter you can use to put pressure on the school to include you in the schoolwork plan for staff. We can also contact the school on your behalf. Equally please let us know if the school you are working in has done the right thing and kept you on.
If you are on daily supply, we believe the government needs to clarify and put better arrangements in place, as it does for all zero-hour contract, self-employed and agency workers. The Joint General Secretaries have been in talks with the Secretary of State for Education. They were discussing a variety of topics and one was the job retention scheme and how supply staff can be included in it.
We will get further advice out to supply members as soon as possible.
We are getting lots of queries and we are answering them as quickly as we can but please bear with us.
We will issue further updates but please do check the NEU website www.neu.org.uk/coronavirusand contact us if you have any concerns about your situation. I have included the office number and my mobile but would ask members to email where they can so the phone can be kept clear for urgent advice.
We are working very closely with the NAHT locally and the Local Authority to get clear advice to heads and staff and hopefully a joint statement on key principals.
Best wishes and thank you for everything you are doing.
Secretary Kirklees NEU
Kirklees NEU Office 01484 513683
Hazel’s mobile 07905698250