Winning at work on safety: Andy's story


At the beginning of lockdown in March, our team found ourselves with no head teacher, caretaker and cleaners who were all isolating and only three teaching staff and three TA’s available to work in school. And a member of SLT was running the office and managing day-to-day issues in remote consultation with our acting head.

Unsurprisingly, many essential measures were not in place, including proper cleaning, plans for social distancing and an effective staffing rota.

On day one, some pupils arriving early were allowed into the office, while staff were asked to help with cleaning at the end of the day, which we did initially, to ensure that we were able to stay open for the sake of the small number of vulnerable/ key worker pupils that needed us.

Having asked for extra cleaning staff and for a proper rota/timetable that would reduce the number of different people entering the building each day, we reached the end of day two with no resolution.

Following discussion with our local NEU representative, and then our multi-academy trust representative, things escalated very quickly, and the trust organised a cleaning team to be on site daily.

Senior leaders finally produced a rota and a clear set of guidelines were produced for all staff on site to follow regarding safe working practice and social distancing. This would not have happened without the input from our union colleagues.

With regard to wider opening in June, we had a new head teacher in post from June 1, who actively encouraged my involvement in planning for a safe reopening, ensured that the NEU checklist was used to inform the school risk assessment, and put staff well-being at the forefront of all discussions. 

Thanks to the ongoing support provided by the NEU, through online health and safety training, virtual local and national meetings, the reps’ forum on Mobilize, and the unwavering assistance from our own trust rep, we have also been able to make a safe, secure and positive start to the new school year in September, working in close partnership with our school leadership team for the benefit of all. 

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