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The NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union is seeking immediate and robust action from the Government to ensure that all school and college employers carry out fresh risk assessments in light of the increased Covid-19 threat level across the country.

As new national restrictions come into force, the NASUWT is also calling on employers to publish their risk assessments and to explain to parents and to employees the additional safety measures they are putting into place to prevent the spread of the virus within schools and colleges.

The NASUWT is also concerned that some employers are becoming complacent in their approach to ensuring staff safety and are refusing to consult with the workforce or trade unions.

The Union is also committed to taking appropriate action where employers fail to meet their legal obligations for the health and safety of staff.

In the latest survey of NASUWT members, in which 7,440 responded, just one-third of teachers (34%) believe the control measures in their school are adequate, compared to 46% who said they were not.

In addition, the NASUWT submitted Freedom of Information requests to employers on whether they had updated their risk assessments and carried out equality impact assessments. Only a minority of employers had confirmed that they had done so.

More than one in three teachers (36%) reported that their schools had not updated or reviewed their covid-19 risk assessments since the start of the autumn term. In addition, 38% of teachers said that they had not been consulted on any revisions to their employer’s risk assessments.

More than two thirds (68%) said they did not know if their school plans to update its risk assessment and nearly a third (29%) said their school does plan to update it.

More than a quarter of teachers (27%) said appropriate measures had not been put in place in their schools to ensure adequate ventilation in classrooms.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: 

“In light of the widespread evidence of increased Covid-19 transmission levels in schools and colleges, employers have a duty to review and update regularly their Covid-19 risk assessments and control measures.

“Despite the latest Government guidance which makes clear that employers should now take steps to maximise control measures in place, the Government now needs to confirm how it will ensure that employers take all the steps necessary to limit the spread of Covid-19.

“The Government must take tough action against those school and college employers that breach health and safety requirements or guidelines.

“The publication of new advice by the Government will not be enough to prevent the continued spread of the virus in primary, secondary and special schools or in colleges.

“Fewer than one in five education settings have been contacted as part of the Health and Safety Executive’s spot checks and only 200 schools have been visited by the HSE since the start of September. This is simply not good enough.

“More needs to be done to secure public confidence and to provide reassurance to teachers and other staff who are working hard to support children’s learning and wellbeing during the pandemic.

"Employers cannot continue to keep schools and colleges open on the basis of outdated risk assessments that were produced when Covid-19 transmission levels were significantly lower.”

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