Keeping your members safe
Thank you for the fantastic work you are doing to support members and reps during this challenging time.
The focus of the NEU is on the safety of the education workforce and the children in our care. Yesterday’s statement by the Prime Minister could not be clearer: workers who are vulnerable or who look after the vulnerable must not be in work. They should be at home, where they may be asked to carry out work which can be done at home.
The union is constantly updating guidance to you, the reps you support and members during this ever-changing situation, to ensure we keep everyone safe.
We are asking you to:
- Ensure you have urgent and regular COVID 19 meetings with your Local Authority and to ensure there are jointly agreed procedures to coordinate the response locally on behalf of all schools, including academies, on issues relating to closure and safety, SEN provision, etc.
- Communicate with your reps and members and ask them to share their experiences. Raise relevant feedback with the Local Authority and encourage the LA to support the union in challenging any bad practice by schools, such as asking staff to come in to clean, update displays or attend staff meetings.
- Support reps in challenging difficult situations in school, which are putting members at risk.
A “normal education” is impossible in the current climate. Keeping minds active and happy, ready to return to school when the time comes, is paramount right now. It is not possible to replicate the school timetable at home and there should be no attempts to do so.
How the school operates in these exceptional circumstances should be the basis of negotiations between management and education unions. Basic principles are:
- Teacher workload should be reasonable and related to individual circumstances.
- Setting pupils 2-3 hours’ work a day is likely to be more than sufficient.
- There is no need for daily interaction with pupils.
- Educators should not have to fill in daily timesheets or tracking documents.
- A protocol should be negotiated for any online learning. It should take account of the limitations of access to IT equipment that both staff and pupils may experience.
- There should be no routine marking or grading.
- Contact of staff at home, should be agreed and by prior arrangement.
To read our full guidance on distance learning, click here.
Rep recruitment drive
Many members are already stepping up to become NEU reps and to become part of rep teams to help during the COVID19 crisis.
We are encouraging members to tell us they want to get involved using our form here. We will send you regular lists of new reps during this period and will assist you in making sure new reps are supported.
How you can support members and reps to shape education
Establish regular discussions with your local authority and MATs in representing collective views of members in your area .
- Make sure you can contact all your reps together to keep up-to-date with what is happening in your area. This can be through tools like whats app and facebook groups.
- Work with others to support or establish COVID 19 community support groups to help your local area response to COVID 19.
Zoom call for branch and district officers
What NEU reps can do to shape education
Establish a way of regularly communicating with your school leadership during COVID19, to represent the collective views of your membership.
- Make sure your reps can communicate directly with members during periods of closure, including the use of tools like whats app and facebook groups.
Branch officers should make a decision about whether branch meetings can and should go ahead. Any members who are self-isolating or symptomatic would not attend and these meetings would not fit the definition of a ‘mass gathering’.
If elections are required, these will take place (by post or electronic means) following the meeting, or the date of the meeting, with facilities time then allocated according to roles as agreed by the branch.
Decisions relating to branch meetings should be made by branch officers with advice from the regional office if necessary and in line with Government and Public Health England/Wales as close as possible to the date of the meeting. If officer roles are uncontested, then these will be declared at the meeting. If the meeting does not go ahead uncontested officers and the results of the election should be conveyed to members by email or other appropriate means.
All branch officers, including caseworkers, should operate in accordance with the general advice issued by Public Health (England/Wales) and continue with their normal duties and activities until and unless they show symptoms of the virus.
The majority of district AGMs will now have been notified or will be this week. One important item of business for the AGM, will be setting the local subscription rate. In the event that district meetings are inquorate because of Covid-19, any decision to retain the same local sub will simply be rolled forward from 2019. If it becomes apparent in the next financial year that this causes severe financial hardship, there will be a mechanism for the executive to consider how to support you.
The week commencing 16 March was the last week to notify members of the AGM and call for nominations. If officer roles are uncontested, then these will be declared at the meeting or by email if the meeting does not take place. If elections are required, these will take place (by post or electronic means) before the meeting as required by rule therefore all results can be declared together.
District final accounts have been incorporated into national accounts, audited and provided to the certification officer. These can be received by the next quorate general meeting.
The officers and committee of the district can make financial decisions as allowed for under the financial regulations and, in the present circumstances, these decisions could be made via email, WhatsApp groups or video/phone meetings.
We will continue to update our coronoavirus guidance – including the FAQs for members – on a daily basis. Any information for local branch and district secretaries only will be posted on the officer portal. The officer steering group will be keeping under review our advice on all district and branch matters.
Meetings and honoraria decisions
Branch and district meetings/AGMs should offer members/committee members the opportunity to join meetings via Skype/Zoom or Lifesize for the duration of the crisis. Information about how to access/set up these systems will be added to this section shortly. As with local subscription rates, if District AGMs are inquorate, decisions on honoraria payments will be rolled over from 2019 so that the same officer roles have the same honoraria scaled up to the full year.