Commenting on the passing of motion 23 at the National Education Union’s Annual Conference, which is being held virtually, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The disabled staff working in education who have been at greater risk from Covid have experienced a really anxious year trying to do their job, obtain a risk assessment and obtain the right adjustments.

“Many schools did prioritise risk assessments and made the right decisions about which staff should be allowed to work from home but many staff with underlying health conditions that placed them at additional risk were pressured to come into school sites. It's clear that not enough was done by the government to guide employers and to give timely advice about supporting staff with health conditions through Covid.

“Across the country, NEU members worked together to negotiate for safe arrangements for staff members at greater risk and the vital role of unions in supporting safety at work became apparent.

“There remains a job of work to do within the education sector about making sure employers make reasonable adjustments to retain and value their staff who are disabled. This year in many workplaces, the Government shielding advice has been ignored and this caused extreme anxiety for thousands of education staff.

“Families with children with SEND have lived through a highly pressured and isolating year.

“After Conference, the NEU will campaign for increased SEND funding a broader curriculum and greater support for SEND learners, better professional development on inclusive pedagogy, and a strategy for fully accessible schools going beyond just ramps.”

The NEU has published a resource about disability equality, aimed at primary schools, called The Full Story.

ENDS

2021-065-NEU