Working conditions in adverse heat

Students cannot concentrate nor can teachers teach effectively in extreme heat.


Commenting after the passing of motion 19 at NEU Annual Conference, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“An enriching and engaging education can only take place in safe, fit for purpose, and comfortable education premises. Students cannot concentrate in extreme heat and nor can teachers teach effectively in such an environment.

“In July 2022 the UK experienced a heatwave during term time which smashed previous records.  The Office of National Statistics confirmed June 2023 was the hottest June in the UK since records began in 1884.

“Such high temperatures are hugely detrimental to working and learning conditions for school staff and students alike. With little shade, large windows, and a lack of air conditioning and ventilation, it’s clear most of our schools are not designed for extreme heat in the summer. With the UK climate increasingly becoming warmer, playgrounds and classrooms reaching unsafe temperatures are only going to become more frequent.

“Changes to working conditions for educators in adverse heat have so far been advisory and left to the discretion of individual workplaces. The TUC has called for a maximum temperature of 30°C and 27°C for those doing strenuous work. Countries in Europe like Portugal have already implemented maximum working temperatures.

“NEU supports a just transition for educators. This means protections against working in extreme temperatures and ensuring schools are retrofitted to cope with the changing climate. We need a legal maximum working temperature in the UK.

“Teachers and students have the right to work and learn in safe and healthy conditions. Quality of education will be impacted if this is not addressed urgently.”

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