Unison Logo

Lessons to be learned by government after limited schools’ reopening, says @unisontheunion

Rushed government reopening plans have led to guidelines on ‘safe’ class sizes being ignored by ​some schools, according to a survey published by UNISON today (Friday).

More than one in five (22%) ​support staff say primary schools have operated class sizes bigger than the 15 pupils per group maximum recommended to maintain social distancing.

Nursery school ‘bubbles’ – where infants remain in small protected groups – also have more than the eight-child preferred maximum contained in government guidance, say nearly half (48%) of those surveyed.  

The data was compiled from the responses of more than 8,000 employees, ​of which seven in ten (71%) are teaching and learning support assistants working in primary, nursery and special schools in England.

The findings come as the government stepped back ​earlier this week from opening primary schools for all year groups until September at the earliest.

The figures raise serious concerns around safety, especially the lack of time given to schools to minimise the risk of coronavirus infection, says UNISON.  

Almost half (48%) of all the respondents said that – after the first week of opening for reception, year one and year six pupils – they weren’t reassured by their experience of working with increased pupil numbers. 

Their biggest concern (56%) was contracting Covid-19 and passing it on to others, with nearly half (48%) saying social distancing between pupils is only being followed to a small extent or not at all.   

The survey results highlight failings in ensuring measures are in place to keep staff and pupils safe. Four fifths (80%) of respondents say their school or nursery has not provided any detail on how the government’s ‘test, trace and isolate’ system will work in their area.

In addition, nearly one in five (19%) ​say they weren't consulted on their workplace risk assessment in good time before ​the wider reopening​. 

A third (33%) say their school or nursery is not allowing staff to use personal protective equipment (PPE) if they wish to. Almost a quarter (23%) said they were not given it even after a risk assessment ​said was needed.

Other ​concerns ​highlighted include​ school managers asking staff with childcare issues, the clinically vulnerable and ​black staff to return to work on school sites, without carrying out individual risk assessments.

Comments submitted to UNISON from staff who took part in the survey include:

  • “I’ve been allowed to work from home after the doctor signed me off sick for anxiety. Then I was told it was highly likely I’d be needed from 1 June. I’ve been going to work half days leaving my child at home alone.”
  • “It’s been a very scary time as we have had no PPE, no guidance as to what guidelines we should be following and no risk assessment.”
  • “There are no structured lesson plans, no alcohol sanitiser, no PPE. One bottle of cleaning product and one cloth is shared between four classrooms.”
  • “I’m more anxious about the situation now than before. The risk assessment wasn’t given to staff, but the school wants no liability. They say take it up with ​the government.”

​Commenting on the findings, UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “This survey shows the pressures schools have been under to meet the June deadline. 

 ​“The result is some corners have been cut, with staff ​either not consulted in time​, or not at all​ in some cases.  

“​The focus has been on supporting pupils already in school, those still at home and the most vulnerable children. Now ​unions, staff and ministers must work together to get many more pupils back in September.

 “Children and staff ​must be brought back safely​, and parents allowed to get back to work.​” ​

 

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Newsroom Activity

Jo Moriani added a new event 6 hours

PREPARING FOR THE NEW STYLE OFSTED VISITS THIS AUTUMN

Overview Ofsted has now announced in detail its plans for carrying out what it calls ‘interim visits’ in the autumn period up to the end of...

  • Thursday, 22 October 2020 10:00 AM
  • Online

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.

Podcasts

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.

Events

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