National Education Union

@NEUnion tells Government that support for wider opening of schools should not be taken for granted, and demands urgent action on testing 

The leaders of Britain’s largest education union have today written to the Prime Minister urging Government to take emergency measures if schools and colleges are to keep safe and open.   

As the testing regime buckles under the strain of demand, staff and pupils cannot get tested, or get results, and schools cannot deal with outbreaks or sustain full opening if people are unnecessarily isolating.  

With lockdowns likely but further school closure ruled out by the Government, today’s letter calls for the testing regime to be significantly and urgently increased for schools. It also warns Boris Johnson he must not take the continued support of schools for granted. The letter asks for a Plan B for education “that is sustainable in the mid to long term, not just for tomorrow.”  

“Time is running out and the Government must act now,” say Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union. The union is calling on Boris Johnson to take robust and urgent action to protect pupils, staff and their families.  

The NEU’s letter also proposes “Nightingale Schools” to reduce transmission networks. 

 

The letter, which was sent today and is signed by Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, reads as follows: 

 

20 September 2020 

Cc Secretary of State for Education 

Dear Prime Minister 

We are writing to you at a critical moment for our country, schools and young people. 

It is now clear that your Government has not managed to ensure that testing is sufficiently available to meet the predictable need when 12 million children and their staff returned to school in England.   

Gavin Williamson wrote to heads on 7 September, saying: “I want to reassure you again that all your staff and pupils have access to testing if one of them should develop Covid-19 symptoms.” 

But we know this promise was being broken, even as it was being sent. 

This failure on testing is causing three related problems: 

  • Schools do not have the information to act quickly to stop viral spread when children who would be positive can’t get a test.  
  • Many children are out of school who would be negative if tested, but cannot get a test. 
  • Many school staff are also at home waiting for a test which may well be negative.  

This is putting a strain on schools, which will only get worse the further we get into the autumn term. 

The situation needs addressing as a matter of urgency. Children and staff should be a high priority for the testing regime. Indeed, you should move towards asymptomatic testing of staff and older pupils as you have done in the NHS and care homes. 

It is also clear that cases are growing rapidly, with many sources suggesting an 8-day doubling time, which will return us to March levels within a few weeks if urgent action is not taken. The situation is markedly worse in some localities and we and our members are disturbed that 44 districts are now on your intervention list.  

We hope that you will be able to get this situation under control quickly but, if you cannot, then we believe that you will have to take steps to reduce wider school opening in these areas to help get R below 1.  

You have outlined your plans for such reductions, but we believe you should be undertaking urgent preparations now for Plan B: 

  • Reduction of class sizes, the highest in Europe, to reduce the size of transmission networks and avoid rota operation wherever possible. We need Nightingale Schools as well as Nightingale Hospitals and courts. 
  • Delivery of broadband and laptops to children who still don’t have them. 
  • Urgent clarity and realism on exams and tests for next year. There needs to be fairness for children across the country who will miss varying amounts of schooling as a result of isolation and local lockdowns. 

School leaders, teachers and support staff have supported the wider opening for all pupils and worked hard to make it as safe as possible, but you cannot, and must not, take this support for granted.  

You must show that the virus levels will be able to fall again and that you have a plan for education that is sustainable in the mid to long term, not just for tomorrow. 

The issues raised in this letter are so serious and pressing that we are making its contents public. 

 

Yours sincerely 

Mary Bousted Joint General Secretary

Kevin Courtney Joint General Secretary  

 

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 1 hour 29 minutes ago

Latest #FENews updates for today 10/20/2020 - https://t.co/iUxhBd9yjP
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.

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