Use the NEU Covid map to see the rate of infections in your college area

This is the latest of weekly National Education Union (NEU) reports on Covid-19 education data from the past week, drawing on ONS reports on:

  • regional patterns of Covid-19 cases
  • Covid-19 infection in school age children and any impact on community transmission
  • deaths and hospitalisation
  • school attendance tracking
  • vaccination levels

School Covid Map

Safety in Schools and Colleges

UNISON, GMB, Unite and NEU. have called on the government to reinstate face coverings in schools and colleges

With infections on the rise once more, four unions have issued a joint statement demanding a range of safety measures in schools and colleges to limit coronavirus spread, keep education on track and reduce the risk of further closures.

The NEU agreed joint advice to help colleges prepare for full education from September 2020 and updated advice is being discussed with the other FE unions and the Association of Colleges.

Support for members

Read our Q&A advice for members, now including advice on summer events and on supporting members with long Covid.

The NEU will provide support to members in any school or college where there are concerns about safety.   Details of how to escalate matters in your workplace and if necessary contact your branch can be found here.

Advice on safety

The joint trade union advice for the post 16 sector will be updated prior to September opening. This will help you understand the current DfE advice, identify the most important areas to be considered and ensure that appropriate risk assessments and safety measures are in place for a safer workplace. It is essential for all education settings.

It covers measures which need to be addressed to reflect the known greater transmissibility of the new variant. While the post 16 joint advice is to be updated members may wish to refer to the school joint union guidance which covers the key issues around the variant and the safety measures needed. See: The joint union checklist for full opening in September 2021 has been updated and remains relevant for guidance on more detailed measures that should continue to be in place.

We must protect vulnerable and older members of staff who are most at risk if they catch Covid-19. The joint union advice on other vulnerable and higher risk staff remains in place and can be found here.

Recovery Education Hub

The Recovery Education Hub is your place to network with 450,000 NEU members to get advice, support each other and shape recovery education following the coronavirus pandemic. The hub aims to put education professionals at the heart of developing practice which supports teaching and learning during the months and years ahead.

Covid-19 testing

Advice on the Covid-19 testing system can be found here Coronavirus: testing in schools and colleges | NEU

NEU continues to monitor government policy, the risk assessment sector guidance (below) and college behaviours (where necessary) with the joint trade unions and the AoC and DfE when relevant.

If you have any concerns regarding any of these areas of interest please contact us post16@neu.org.uk.

How is NEU supporting reps and members who are now no longer in direct contact with one another in the workplace?

If you are a rep in a sixth form college there is an established virtual network that you can join. If you are a rep and not part of this network, please contact robert.phillips@neu.org.uk.

If you are a rep in a Further Education college there is a growing and vibrant What’s App group you can join. Please contact norman.crowther@neu.org.uk for more information.

Please organise regional meetings with your regional reps who are on the national council for Post 16 and your district committee post 16 placeholders.

There are regular national, post 16 zoom meetings and other meetings you can join online. Please subscribe to the activist networks for more and please subscribe to emails and SMS from NEU to hear of any future meetings.

What should we do to ensure we are consulted by our college management about new working arrangements?

While working practices such as rotas and timetables, methods of remote learning and support for learners will be different, changes should happen in consultation with NEU reps and members.

  • Reps should ask to be consulted on all changes to working practices before they are implemented and to be part of arrangements for ongoing monitoring and review. 
  • Reps must be included in all staff communications in order to avoid breakdowns in communications whilst working from home.
  • College managers should be asked to undertake, in consultation with reps, initiatives such as reviews of workload and work/life balance, stress surveys, and surveys on training needs relating to new working practices.
  • The guidance (and Law) state that all health and safety reps be consulted whether in recognised or non-recognised workplaces.

Where can I find guidance for distance teaching and safe working at home?

NEU has released guidance on distance learning and is working with post-16 stakeholders to ensure this is improved upon for every college. The AoC website contains advice on teaching and learning practice and supporting material which can be found here. We will continue to support members on issues around remote learning.

For advice on working safely at home, see our guidance here.

How can I be protected from parental expectations around childcare, expected grades and student support?

To fully support learners’ staff will need further guidance, resources and different ways of working. NEU will work with stakeholders on this issue and has issued this advice.

Can the college demand I take my holidays?

NEU does not agree that staff should be asked to take their holidays involuntarily. Any proposals must be discussed with trade unions.  This is not the time for colleges to make blanket decisions around leave or anything else without full support from the trade unions. We all want to be part of the solution, not creating further divisions or problems. Of course, there may be reason for reviewing holiday periods, but this must not happen without consultation and agreement.

What other sources of information are available?

Information and guidance are changing rapidly at this time.  You can keep update with the latest information on post 16 education and training including assessment, safety protocols and support for the sector on our website here NEU Post 16.

You may also find the following links helpful