The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has called on the Secretary of State for Education to provide the evidence and information to justify the decision to start to reopen schools from 1 June and has warned that teachers remain far from convinced that reopening can be safely or practicably achieved by this date.
In a letter to Gavin Williamson, NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach has underlined the NASUWT’s continued commitment to working with ministers over the plans for schools, but has called for further urgent work by the Government to win the trust and confidence of the profession in meeting its aim of starting to reopen schools from 1 June.
Dr Roach has called for the Government to provide the scientific evidence and modelling it has relied on in making its decision over school reopening, to work with the NASUWT to strengthen the guidance for schools and to confirm the actions it will take to monitor and review schools’ compliance on effective safety measures for staff and pupils.
The lack of confidence and the high level of concern of teachers about the Government’s plans for schools have been highlighted by a snapshot survey undertaken by the NASUWT to which nearly 29,000 responses were received in four days from members.
The survey found that:
95% of teachers expressed concern and anxiety about the Government’s plans for the wider reopening of schools;
93% of teachers find the Government’s plans for 1 June reopening confusing;
92% of teachers did not feel reassured by the Government’s announcements that it will be safe for more pupils to return to school/college from 1st June;
85% of teachers do not think it will be safe to return on 1 June;
92% of teachers believe that social distancing will not be possible to achieve or will present a major issue in schools;
91% of teachers are not confident about the proposed measures to protect their health or the health of children.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:
“The NASUWT is fully committed to ensuring children can return to school as quickly as possible. However, our bottom line is that no teacher or pupil should be expected to return to school until it is safe for them to do so.
“We remain committed to discussing with the Secretary of State a way forward which will ensure that staff and pupils can return to schools safely. The NASUWT is calling on ministers to engage in urgent and detailed discussions with us to secure this aim.
“These discussions will rely on all the scientific evidence from SAGE being made available to us and to employers.
“Successful discussions will also rely on the Government’s willingness to work with us to strengthen the guidance for schools so that employers are clear about the actions they are required to take in order to safeguard pupils and teachers.
“The results of our survey underscore the fact that the Government has thus far failed to win the trust and confidence of teachers about the safety of reopening schools. It is now imperative that the Government takes every available opportunity to provide the necessary assurances that teachers are seeking.”