The National Education Union (NEU) welcomes the work of school and college leaders to support students and staff during the current crisis. As your union, we will continue to provide the support you need to manage matters in the face of consistently changing Government demands.

School & college opening - ensuring safety for all students & staff

The NEU wants schools and colleges to remain open where it is safe to do so.  We aim to assist schools and college leaders with their plans and safety measures through a thorough process of risk evaluation and assessment.  Your safety and that of your students and staff, their families and society as a whole must be our priority.

Read our joint checklist and advice for NEU members generally when you prepare for wider opening with your NEU workplace rep, staff and leadership colleagues and make sure it is safe for your school to reopen.  Also read our specific advice for leaders on risk assessment which gives guidance to ensure that all necessary areas are considered in undertaking risk assessments.

Knowledge about the greater risks of Covid-19 to specific individuals and groups means that risk assessments for individual staff members are needed to ensure their safety.  Read our guidance on conducting individual risk assessments and general guidance on the position of vulnerable people.

We know you will recognise the need for full consultation with staff and safety to be assured. The NEU’s national tests for school opening are helping to ensure that measures are in place for safety nationally, while our joint checklist and other advice will help ensure safety in your particular school or college.

Other advice to help you as a leader

Staffing matters

The NEU will continue to provide advice to leader members in relation to staffing matters. 

Where staff are absent, please follow our guidance on pay and sick pay. Make it clear that you intend to do so – and that absences won’t be counted for sickness monitoring purposes. Be flexible and generous with leave of absence for those who need to care for others. This pandemic is not over - staying alert to the virus dangers and remaining kind and showing empathy towards those you lead still remains vital.

Make sure you consider all those at particular potential risk, and 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.

Please also establish arrangements which ensure that you can continue to use supply staff to cover vacancies. This will continue to help casual supply staff cope with some very difficult months. 

The NEU’s previous advice on continuing to employ supply staff during the period while the national furlough scheme operates is still in place.  Please ensure that you treat directly employed or agency employed supply staff in line with the DFE advice as outlined here

Behaviour policy

The DfE has published a behaviour and attendance checklist for school leaders to support them to reengage all pupils from the autumn term.  The DfE checklist provides some welcome reminders which the NEU supports, including the following recommendations:

  • time to train staff in new behaviour expectations – to ensure all staff are trained properly, school leaders should consider whether a more flexible or phased return is appropriate.
  • having an open dialogue with parents about safety etc – given the time constraints, schools may need to work with parents who have particular concerns about their child’s safety more flexibly at the start of term.
  • working with LAs / health teams to ensure a smooth return for SEND pupils
  • training for Dedicated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) and pastoral leads to spot signs of pupil distress and poor mental health.

Please seek to ensure that you do consult with staff, parents and students despite the time constraints associated with this advice.

Your views

Please email the National Official for leadership members with further suggestions for matters on which leaders need support.