After two months in lockdown, and with significantly fewer pupils attending, there are persistent issues around measures to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

  • Almost a quarter (22%) say that pupil numbers have not been kept low enough to allow social distancing.
  • A significant number (26%) are concerned that pupil numbers are too large to allow social distancing when moving around their school.
  • 41% report that their school does not have sufficient sinks for children to regularly wash their hands.
  • A quarter of respondents (24%) state that hand sanitiser is not available in all classrooms or at entrance/exit points.
  • The majority (53%) report they do not have lidded bins in each classroom.
  • The same number (53%) report they are not being offered appropriate PPE.
  • One third (31%) believe the arrangements for cleaning their classroom are inadequate.

It is clear from the findings of this survey that when pupil intake increases, and for so long as the Government fails to meet the NEU’s five tests, the health and safety issues facing heads, teachers and school staff will grow.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“It is the duty of Government to ensure that we are kept as safe as possible through this pandemic. No one is saying we can only go back when it is 100% safe, but this has not been thought through properly. As this survey of NEU members shows, significant numbers of teachers and school staff are confirming that basic health and safety guidelines outlined by Government are not being observed. 

“Hurtling towards an arbitrary wider opening date without either sufficient scientific evidence or protection in place is simply wrong. Neither Scotland, Northern Ireland nor Wales have decided the time is right. Many schools will not be abiding by the Government’s preferred wider opening date and none will be penalised as a result. Schools in England need to know they are opening more widely on the basis of sound scientific evidence, not a political whim.”

Editor’s note

The survey of 4,016 members working in state nursery and primary schools in England was conducted between 26-28 May 2020.