School and college reopening in England - update 23 February 2021

On Monday 22 February 2021, the Prime Minister set out to Parliament the Government’s roadmap for easing of national restrictions as a result of the pandemic.

The easing of restrictions will commence on 8 March with the full reopening to pupils of all schools and colleges in England.

The Government has published further guidance which can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19): Education, universities and childcare

NASUWT response

In responding to the Government’s announcement, we said:

  • The Government had failed to demonstrate that it has taken full account of the scientific evidence to support its decision on full reopening risks;

  • The Government had lost the trust of many teachers and needs to do much more to win the confidence of a profession that has continued, throughout the pandemic, to deliver everything that has been asked of them;

  • Vaccinating education staff should be prioritised and could be done quickly if there is the political will to do so;

  • A competent system of test, trace and isolate is needed which includes testing of primary age pupils.

  • Stronger workplace mitigations and control measures should be made mandatory and backed up by effective enforcement and inspection.

We will be reviewing in detail the Government’s guidance and publishing further advice to members shortly.

In addition, we will also be:
  • writing to all school and college employers reminding them that, irrespective of the Government’s guidance, the responsibility for safety in law rests with them and the Union will not hesitate to take action where any school or college employer deploys members when it is in breach of its statutory duties and obligations;

  • pressing the Government to further strengthen measures to ensure the safety of staff and pupils in schools and colleges.

NASUWT advice

School and college employers are required to review and take into account the Government’s guidance on reopening. Employers also have a duty in law to review their health and safety arrangements, including updating school and college risk assessments prior to reopening fully to all pupils.

Members are advised to await further advice to be published shortly by the NASUWT.

Where members have concerns about the arrangements or plans in their school/college, they should notify the Union immediately.

Useful links

DfE Guidance for education and childcare
Government Coronavirus (COVID‑19) page