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Commenting on the announcement by the Deputy First Minister that the Scottish Government is now planning for all children to return to school full time from August, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The NASUWT wants to see all pupils to return to schools as soon as it is safe to do so and recognises the huge impact which the partial school closures have had on pupils and their families.

“The Minister has emphasised the need for decisions to continue to be driven by the scientific and health advice and the NASUWT expects that the Scottish Government will only proceed with the full reopening of schools to all pupils in August if it is safe to do so.

“To date the Scottish Government has rightly taken a cautious approach to the easing of lockdown restrictions and it will be imperative that the next steps do not undermine public health or put at risk the welfare and safety of teachers or children.

“The NASUWT will continue to seek to work with the Scottish Government and employers through the Education Recovery workstreams, with our key priority remaining the safety of teachers and pupils.

“As more detail emerges on arrangements for August, the NASUWT will evaluate the plans and advise members in the light of its expectations on the steps which should be in place to make schools COVID-19 secure and minimise risk.

“The NASUWT’s bottom line remains that no teacher or pupil should be expected to return to school until it can be demonstrated that it is safe to do so.”

Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:

“The Deputy First Minister’s commitment to ensuring that all probationer teachers are able to secure a teaching post is welcome, but is unlikely to fully address the increasing challenges facing schools in recruiting and retaining teachers.

“Along with ensuring the skills of experienced teachers such as those currently working on supply are fully utilised, tackling excessive workload and the increasingly uncompetitive nature of teachers’ pay is also necessary in ensuring sufficient supply of teachers to support pupils through the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

“The abrupt timing and handling of today’s announcement and its implications for teacher workload and welfare will do little to raise the morale of the profession at an already difficult time.”

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