FAQs for school and college leaders
We cannot emphasise strongly enough how grateful we are for your work in the current crisis and our thanks for everything you are seeking to do for your staff, students and the community.
We are pressing Government to ensure that all schools, academies and colleges work together with the involvement of NEU and other education union representatives. Read our current advice to school and college leaders.
The NEU’s guidance on coronavirus is being constantly updated to reflect the fast-moving situation. It gives links to NHS and DfE guidance as well as NEU answers to many common questions.
The NEU has issued guidance to workplace reps on actions to take and assurances to seek from school and college managers. This guidance, includes sections on safety precautions, assessing particular individuals’ needs, staff absences, preparing for closure and other matters. They set out what the law requires and what should be done to ensure best practice.
There are some issues on which there is no simple answer. If this is the case, then you should feel able to say so, provided that you offer your staff, students and parents the reassurance that matters are being considered and kept under review, and advice sought and followed.
Keeping the premises open and operating safely during this period requires thorough risk assessments which are kept constantly under review. You should carry out specific assessments with regard to the risks posed specifically by the coronavirus, ensuring that you have identified the specific risks, put appropriate control measures in place and made plans for further action as needed. You should also ensure that all staff know about these measures and their roles in taking them forward.
Please share your risk assessments and proposals for revised procedures with staff, whose views and expertise should help inform them. Consult your workplace union reps and union health & safety reps. A visible and thorough focus on hygiene precautions in particular will be immensely reassuring to staff, students and parents.
If you delegate the responsibility for overseeing this area of work to someone else, make sure everyone knows who that is and they work with colleagues in the same way.
Where staff are absent, please follow our best practice guidance on pay and sick pay. Make it clear that you intend to do so – and that absences will not be counted for sickness monitoring purposes. Be flexible and generous with regard to leave of absence for those who may need to care for others.
Make sure you consider those at particular potential risk, including anyone who has a respiratory or immunodeficiency condition. Don’t assume you know everything about everyone – ask people if they have information to volunteer about themselves. Respect the medical advice they receive – and their own views and fears.
Try to use supply teachers to cover vacancies and ensure that their agencies recognise and accept their obligations to them if they are absent. And please don’t just terminate their engagement if the school closes – ensuring they are paid for the duration of the engagement will help them cope with some very difficult months ahead and won’t cost the school more than planned.