Commenting on the passing of motion 1 at today’s NEU Special Conference, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“It is essential for children, young people, parents, and wider society that schools and colleges are safe places for education staff and pupils. Only if that is achieved will they remain open to educate pupils. Schools have moved mountains to get their buildings ready for the full reopening in September. They played their part. Government has not.
“84% of NEU members in our latest survey have said they do not trust Boris Johnson’s Government to keep schools safe, to protect workers, to listen to the profession, to support vulnerable or disadvantaged children, or to ensure exams and assessment are fit for purpose during Covid. This should be a warning to Government and a clear indication that enough is enough. (1)
“Test track and trace was always going to be a vital part in facilitating the continued safe opening and monitoring of schools and colleges. The NEU has been calling for a robust testing system to be in place for months. The consequences of not having one was predictable and predicted, as our survey of members shows. 70% of respondents said there are staff shortages in their school as a result of self-isolation and/or access to testing, with 11% of leadership members describing those shortages as “significant”. 74% also said pupils and staff should be prioritised for Covid-19 testing.
"Special schools have been forgotten in government guidance. Educating children who often do not understand social distancing and who may have initiate personal care needs requires additional financial and staffing resource. This has been sadly lacking.
“We know that children learn best when in the classroom and we know that the education of children from disadvantaged backgrounds suffers the most from having to learn at home. Everything that can be done must be done to ensure this does not happen and colleges remain open wherever possible. This includes, should infection rates rise locally or nationally, considering the closure or restriction of other activities to support keeping schools open, boosting track trace and test throughout the country and providing schools and colleges with a Plan B outlining contingency plans for possible local or national lockdowns.”
NEU survey, 3 October: https://neu.org.uk/press-releases/member-survey-shows-lack-trust-government
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