1. The NEU recognises the importance of interaction and communication between teachers and pupils who are not in school due to COVID-19. The union recommends schools put in place a system and protocol for form tutors and class teachers to contact students over the phone. Teachers should not be expected to contact pupils daily. There should be a planned programme in place, that is manageable. ~
     
  2. The calls should be limited to discussion about general wellbeing, not about lesson plans or work to be completed. 
     
  3. It is, however, important to distinguish between these calls and ‘welfare calls’ made by designated safeguarding leads to vulnerable children. Such calls have different communication types/protocols – for information, see our guidance on contacting vulnerable children.
     
  4. A communication policy should be put in place and clear safeguarding advice should be issued by school leaders before phone calls take place. The policy should set out how contact between the teacher and pupil will be made and how regular this contact will be. The policy should be negotiated with staff.
     
  5. The NEU believes staff should not be encouraged or expected to use their own personal phones or devices. Online calling facilities are safer for students and staff and are accessible. Where possible, the school should use software that enables calls to come from a central hub – Call Hub and C3X are two examples. Another option is for schools to purchase dedicated phones for staff to use.
     
  6. If there is no alternative to teachers using personal phones, the NEU recommends safety measures are put in place. Teachers should dial 141 before dialling the pupil’s number: this will withhold the caller's number, thereby protecting and safeguarding the teacher's personal number. Teachers should delete pupils' numbers from their phones after use. 
     
  7. Teachers should try to pre-arrange calls with parents/carers to find an appropriate time, since families are juggling many commitments, including Ramadan and care for other children and family members.
     
  8. Teachers should ask to speak to a parent at the start of the call, giving their name and explaining why they are calling, and should end the call by speaking to the parent again. No personal information should be disclosed during the call.
     
  9. Calling a class of children is likely to take a long time and the impact on the teacher’s workload must be considered.
     
  10. Protocols will also need to be agreed for what to do if a family is not responding to any contacts made by the school.