Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union

A snapshot survey of 4,016 members of the @NEUnion reveals continued problems with health and safety even before wider opening 

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.”

Commenting on the final report of Independent Sage When should a school reopen? published today, Dr Mary Bousted, said:

“This latest report casts yet more doubt and concern over the Prime Minister’s decision to press ahead with a June 1st wider opening for schools. The Government’s primary duty should be to protect its people, but in England - unlike the rest of the UK – we are hurtling towards the further opening of schools before the scientific evidence says it is safe to do so.

“This decision threatens not just the health of school communities but also of wider society, with the clear risk of a rise in the R rate. All the sacrifices that have been made to stay indoors and try to contain this virus could be thrown away in the pursuit of fulfilling an arbitrary promise to open schools more widely from June 1.

“The National Education Union’s snapshot survey of 4,016 members, published today, shows that even with the current low pupil numbers in schools, significant problems with health and safety exist. Members speak of the inability to maintain social distancing, the lack of hand sanitiser, insufficient PPE and not enough sinks for hand washing. Come June 1 should Government continue to press ahead with their plans, this will clearly get significantly worse.

“We believe the right thing to do is to wait a couple of weeks for the level of coronavirus to recede further and for the test and track programme to become embedded. We must not take risks with the nation’s children, their parents or school staff.

“We agree with Independent SAGE that the extent of the epidemic in Britain is greater than other European nations and that our school system is quite different. We have much larger class sizes in the UK and in England schools have much less support from local authorities.

“No one is saying go back when it is 100% safe, but with 37,460 people  across the country having already lost their lives to Covid-19 the Prime Minister must accept his responsibilities to the country and draw back from this arbitrary date.”

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

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 2 hours 37 minutes ago

Overview of the redundancy support service for...

The Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices provides support and advice for apprentices affected by redundancy. The service can be accessed...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 hours 38 minutes ago

RT @FENews: Young Food Ambassadors meet with Children’s Minister: Young Food Ambassadors have met with Children’s Minister Vicky Ford to di…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page