Keeping our schools and communities safe

Speakers

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, NEU

Rushanara Ali MP

Apsana Begum MP

(Other speakers to be confirmed)

Come to the public meeting Tower Hamlets and the City NEU are holding on Wednesday 30th September with Tower Hamlets Unison to discuss our concerns at the lack of testing and discuss how children and families can be supported in this difficult time.

School staff are welcome to attend.

How can I attend?

Details of how to access the meeting on zoom:

Meeting ID 826 6427 9506

Password 456174

Tower Hamlets & the City Update 21st September 2020

FACTSHEET: SYMPTOMS, TESTING AND ISOLATION
DOWNLOAD HERE


We are only three weeks into the new term and already we can see that the government is letting schools down, through its failure to have a robust system of testing and tracing in place, and a clear plan to support schools when positive cases occur.

The government says that keeping schools open is a priority and that closing them will be a last resort.

The NEU agrees with this and we know that, across Tower Hamlets, school staff have worked hard to put measure in place to welcome children back from the start of term.

However, for the return to schools to be sustainable we urgently need:

• Clearer guidance and support systems
• A much better system of test and trace
• Funding to employ more staff and reduce class sizes
Plan B for when closures do have to happen
• Greater support for children and families
• Measures to address the “digital divide
The government had six months to prepare for this, and the uncertainty many of us feel at the moment is down to them.

Letters
  1. Tower Hamlets and the City NEU has sent this letter to our local Tower Hamlets councillors and MPs, highlighting our concerns and asking for their support in raising these issues with the government.
  2. The National Education Union has sent this letter to Boris Johnson. Read the NEU press release on this letter and the failure of the government to address school safety.
Joint General Secretaries video

SYMPTOMS, TESTING AND ISOLATING
In response to queries from NEU members we have produced this briefing and leaflet, outlining the steps to be taken in various scenarios when people display symptoms of Covid-19. We trust you will find this helpful. If you have had any experiences of getting a test, or trying to get a test, that you would like to share with us please email me.

JOIN OUR MEETING ON MONDAY
We will be discussing these issues, and how we can to continue to support members, at our NEU Zoom meeting on Monday 21st September at 5:00pm. All members are invited and I would encourage to come along and join the discussion – register for the meeting here.

That’s all for now, if you have any questions or concerns please talk to your school Rep or contact us.

Tower Hamlets NEU Update 14th September 2020

Tower Hamlets NEU Meeting

Monday 21st September

5:00pm via Zoom

Register here

The alarming rise in the number of Covid-19 cases is a cause of concern for all of us, and it seems likely that the situation facing schools will change dramatically over the next few weeks.

This highlights the importance of schools keeping their risk assessments under regular review and staff being able to raise concerns and have these discussed. Your role as NEU Rep is very important in this and we encourage you to set up regular catch-up meetings with your headteacher.

1. COVID-19 IN TOWER HAMLETS

We are monitoring the situation closely and we are in regular contact with local Public Health officials to make sure we have the latest information, which we will share with you each week.

i) Local case rate: in the week commencing Monday 7th September there were 73 new cases confirmed in Tower Hamlets. This is equivalent to approximately 24 new cases per 100,000 of the local population. This is still quite low, and there are no plans at this stage for a local intervention.

ii) Covid-19 cases in schools: since the beginning of term we have been informed of four schools which have reported confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst staff – so far these have turned out to be single cases and there appears to have been no spread within the school. The schools affected are responding in line with advice from Public Health and the London Coronavirus Response Centre (LCRC) and we will be in contact with our Reps to discuss the situation.

iii) Dealing with suspected cases in schools: Here is a set of slides from Tower Hamlets Public Health, which outline the steps schools should take if there are suspected cases of Covid-19 amongst staff or pupils and then if there are positive:

Covid-19_cases powerpoint slides

Covid-19_cases PDF

It is worth discussing this with your head so everyone knows what is expected of them.

2. NEU LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER

The NEU has sent a strong letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, reiterating the measures that must be carried out, as a matter of urgency, if we are to ensure education continues for all pupils. The letter addresses our concerns about safety and also the need for a Plan B when schools are forced to close or send children home. I have attached a copy of the letter and the Union will be developing some campaigning steps around this in the next few weeks.

Read the letter to Boris Johnson here: NEU Letter to Prime Minister Schools

That’s all for now, we will contact you later in the week with other news – in the meantime please do register for our meeting next week, and encourage colleagues to do likewise.

Tower Hamlets NEU Update 8th September

TOWER HAMLETS NEU MEETING
Monday 21st September
5:00pm
via Zoom

We hope the start of term has gone as well as could be expected.

We are collecting reports from schools and, while there are good plans in place, there are some concerns beginning to arise.

It is important that schools have a system in place for staff to report any concerns and that SLT hold regular catch-up meetings with NEU Reps to discuss these and keep the situation under review.

The local case rate remains low and we will continue to monitor the situation and make sure the Local Authority is issuing clear advice to schools. Our local website has been updated with the latest advice from the NEU.

Please do alert us to any serious concerns, we are ready to support you and your colleagues.

TEACHER PAY AWARD

I have attached a card showing the agreed new teacher pay scales, effective from September 1st. Please make members aware of this and ask your head to confirm that these will be adopted in your school. Reps should also ask heads to confirm that all eligible teachers will be awarded pay progression this year.

DATES FOR NEU MEETINGS

We have set a schedule of meetings for this year, following our normal pattern of the third Monday every month at 5:00pm.

·      Monday 21st September

·      Monday 19th October

·      Monday 23rd November

·      Monday 25th January

·      Monday 22nd February

·      Monday 22nd March

·      Monday 26th April

·      Monday 24th May

·      Monday 21st June

For the time being these will continue to be held on Zoom. We will also hold Reps briefings and some online training sessions as and when necessary. Please make a note of these dates.

Download the flyer for your noticeboard: General Members Meeting September 2020

NQT RECRUITMENT

Please speak to any NQTs, or new members of staff in your school about joining the NEU – we now have over 2,700 members in Tower Hamlets and The City and we want to keep growing. Here is the link for joining the NEU – it is £1 for NQTs.

NEU SPECIAL CONFERENCE

The NEU is holding a special conference on Saturday October 3rd, this is instead of the annual conference which was postponed at Easter. Our delegates to the conference will be those colleagues who were elected to attend the Easter conference. The conference will discuss some rule changes and three motions from the Executive. We will consider possible amendments to these at our meeting on 21st September.

NEU OFFICER AND COMMITTEE VACANCIES

We currently have vacancies in our officer group for a support staff rep and independent school Rep. We also have a number of vacancies on the District Committee, which we would like to fill, particularly with some Reps from primary schools. If you are interested, or would like more information please let us know.

FINANCIAL STATEMENT FOR 2019/20

The NEU financial year runs from September 1st to August 31st and each District must present audited accounts to NEU HQ. The closing statement of accounts for 2019/20 will be presented to our next meeting where we can take any questions you may have.

That’s all for now, but please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any information, advice or support.

8th September 2020

September 2020 Coronavirus Briefing

The start of the new school year sees us moving into uncharted territory, with schools and colleges opening for all students and the virus still out there. We have not been helped in our preparations by the government who have failed to give clear guidance and delayed important announcements until the last minute.

The NEU believes that children should be back in school and that everything should be done to maintain this for as long as possible. That means having robust plans in place to ensure the safety of staff and children. It also means being ready to respond to changes in the local situation and having a clear outline of what happens if cases develop. The NEU has issued updated guidance for vulnerable members and a checklist for your workplace:

Vulnerable members advice 2020

Checklist for September 2020

This a brief guide of what we want Reps and members to know – for a full guide visit the NEU website.

  1. THE PLAN

Schools must have a full plan, or risk assessment, in place to welcome staff and students back at the beginning of term, this should be discussed and agreed with staff. This is covered by the NEU checklist and covers issues such as: hygiene • cleaning • groupings • movement around the building • start and finish times • lunch and break times • use of equipment • marking • meetings and more.  Reps should be consulted on the risk assessment and all staff should be made familiar with the arrangements.

  1. KEEP IT UNDER REVIEW

Many schools have thorough plans in place that meet the NEU checklist, but these have yet to be tested by the reality of having hundreds of adults and children on site – there will be things that don’t work, things people haven’t thought of and, above all, we must avoid complacency setting in.

It is important, therefore, that the plan is seen as a live document and kept under continual review. The NEU suggests that a system is set up for staff to refer any issues and that these are dealt with promptly. We also suggest a regular catch-up meeting between unions and SLT.

  1. PLAN B

It is equally important that schools are prepared for a change in circumstances and are ready to respond in the event of positive cases within the school or a rise in the local case rate. It is vital that everyone knows what to do if circumstances change and what their responsibilities are. Local figures are now available and the government has issued a four-tiered approach to guide local responses. As part of their Plan B schools should be ready to support home learning, if groups of children have to be sent home or the school has to close down again.

  1. FAQs

While we all want to be back in school, many staff are anxious and there are many questions from NEU members.

Full guidance is available on the website but here are some of the most commonly asked questions:

  • Vulnerable staff: individual risk assessments should be carried out for staff in higher risk groups, including pregnant women. Everything should be done to minimise risk to these members and where possible we recommend that they be allowed to work from home. Pregnant women in their third trimester should work from home.
  • Masks and face coverings: although the government advise that face coverings are not necessary, the NEU recommends that staff who wish to wear a face covering are allowed to do so. The advice on face coverings is being kept under review and schools should agree a policy with staff.
  • Quarantine: staff who have been instructed to quarantine on return from holiday should discuss the situation with their head and be available to work from home. Staff should not be deducted pay as a result of quarantine.

5. TEACHER PAY AWARD AND PAY PROGRESSION

New pay scales have been published incorporating the teacher pay award for September 2020. Reps should ask their head to confirm that these will be implemented for all teaching staff. https://neu.org.uk/pay-advice

Reps should also confirm that all eligible teachers will be awarded pay progression for September. No member of staff should be penalised if they have been unable to complete their appraisal.

Note: support staff received a 2.75% pay increase in April as part of the local government pay award.

We will issue further updates but please do check the NEU website www.neu.org.uk/coronavirus and contact us if you have any concerns about any aspect of this situation.

Thank you

TOWER HAMLETS ZOOM MEETING

Friday 28th August

4:00pm

Register here

We are almost at the end of perhaps the strangest year I have known in my time as local union officer.

It was a year which started off in familiar manner with a focus on school cuts and went on to include a snap general election, a local ballot for strike action, a pandemic leading to a lockdown, and finally the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and a renewed focus on the need to develop anti-racist strategies and approaches to teaching and learning in our schools.

These events have created many tests for us as education professionals and as members of the NEU – tests which I think we have passed, learning new ways of doing things in the process and showing that we can be agile in organising to support members in schools, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

In winning our ballot for local strike action we became the first NEU branch to do so. Although we did not take strike action, we have shown our strength and ability to organise across the branch – something from which we have already benefited and will continue to do so.

We should be extremely proud of the work we have done together in recent months, which has kept people safe and undoubtedly saved lives.

As a local branch of the NEU we have stepped up and delivered on Union policy, holding some of the biggest branch meetings the Union has seen.

The NEU has seen an increase of over 25,000 members and 3,000 new school reps since March 1st and these increases are reflected in our local membership.

None of this is possible without a team of committed school Reps who understand what we are trying to do and are able to take this to members in schools.

I want to pay tribute to all NEU Reps for the work you have done on behalf of members this year, which has made the Union stronger and more united.

You have all done an amazing job especially those of you who became Reps at the beginning of the pandemic – and not just in your own schools, but in supporting each other.

THANK YOU ALL

LOOKING AHEAD

Our focus now is on making sure the return to school in September is as safe as possible. We know that schools are using the NEU Checklist to create a framework which will be finalised towards the end of August when the situation is a bit clearer.

To help with this we will be holding a meeting for Tower Hamlets Reps and members on Friday 28th August at 4:00pm – this follows a national Reps call on Thursday 27th at 5:00pm – you can register for our meeting here.

In September we will also want to make sure that teachers receive the pay progression for which they are eligible and will bring colleagues together again to discuss how we take forward our anti-racist work.

That’s all from me – I will be taking a short break from next week but will be checking in on emails towards the end of August.

Now all that remains is for me to thank you once more and to wish you, your families and loved ones a restful and safe summer holiday and we will meet up again soon.

Alex Kenny

East End Matchwomen changed the world – they deserve a statue!

Tower Hamlets Council is consulting on the public spaces in the borough. Join Louise Raw’s campaign to have the Matchwomen of Bow commemorated.

Dr Louise Raw is the author of Striking a Light: the Bryant and May Matchwomen and their place in history. She explains here why the Matchwomen deserve a statue.

Near here, in Bow, Tower Hamlets, East End matchwomen changed the world! Their statue should stand close to Gladstone’s. Their strike in 1888 started the modern union movement. They were incredible & inspiring but regarded as the ’lowest of the low’ & a ‘rough set of girls’. The matchwomen who worked at the Bryant & May matchworks, Fairfield Rd, faced racism, and religious, class & gender prejudice.

Victorians ‘scientifically’ categorised the Irish (they mostly were) as Black- ‘a negroid race’. There were also Jewish matchwomen (this has only just come to light). They weren’t allowed to form a union. While their employers lived in country estates, & shareholders got 20% dividends, they were malnourished & died of ‘phossy jaw’.

Yet they won.

Their victory against exploitation was the first of its kind in England against such a powerful employer. The Dock Strike of 1889 was inspired by them. The story is misstold as being ‘led’ by Annie Besant (I have shown it wasn’t’) and even now, some want to replace the myth of her leadership with ONE other ‘Matchgirl’ (they were women) who it’s wrongly claimed was the ‘leader’.

My 23 years research has shown what’s so important is that they were a democracy – a sisterhood and cool girl gang! They were loyal to one another and even shared hats through their communal hat club, the Feather Club!

We should have a memorial to several women here including the ones Bryant & May thought were ringleaders, Alice France, Jane Wakeling, Kate Slater, Alice France and Eliza Martin; and Martha Robertson, the grandmother of local historian Ted Lewis, who lived nearby. Their lives are recorded in my book Striking a Light.

A memorial to the matchwomen close to the Gladstone statue (which they hated because their employers made them pay for it) it was a massive act of sycophancy by Brant & May who wanted government support for their brutal employment practices and use of white phosphorus. There is currently NO memorial to the brilliant matchwomen and we should put that right.

Please submit a nomination for a statue of the Matchwomen to Tower Hamlets Council by 12th July.

Click on Bow Road and fill in the online form to nominate them. You can use details from this blog to support your nomination.

Women in Work: childcare during Covid-19

It is in the interests of the whole school and college community that teachers and support staff are not forced out of their jobs because they have children, and that their childcare needs do not put them at a disadvantage at work.

Download Women in Work: childcare during Covid-19: Coronavirus childcare guidance

You can read the guidance below

Challenge sexist stereotypes

Workplace reps, school and college groups, leaders, teachers and support staff should all challenge sexist stereotypes that presume that women will undertake all childcare responsibilities.

If your partner’s employer is pressing them to return to work on the expectation that you as a female partner will undertake all the childcare, press your partner to explain to their employer that you share the childcare and that arrangements will need to be made to accommodate your shared responsibility for the care of your children. Your partner’s employer has a responsibility to consider the childcare needs of their workers, just as yours does.

If your employer is pressing you to return to work on the expectation that your female partner will do all the childcare, explain your childcare and negotiate arrangements that will enable you both to work and look after your children.

If you are a single parent or carer and your employer is insisting that you return to work on the presumption that you have a partner at home, you are encouraged to explain your situation and to seek an arrangement that allows you to balance your responsibilities. Seek support from your workplace rep or your local branch secretary. Some members have set up virtual support networks for single parent families to share tips and strategies for managing work and childcare during the crisis.

It is important to bear in mind that where a woman is placed at a disadvantage as a result of childcare needs and she is not able to resolve the matter individually or collectively with her colleagues, she may have a claim for indirect sex discrimination against her employer.

Protecting staff and family members at higher risk

Some members’ childcare needs are intensified by additional health and safety concerns for themselves, a child, or another member of the household. Many key workers will not have utilised their child’s school place because of their concerns for the health or well-being of their family.

Members are encouraged to read the NEU’s guidance on Ensuring Safety for Staff at Higher Risk

Every employer must conduct risk assessments as part of planning for wider opening of schools. The NEU expects employers to carry out a risk assessment relating to every individual member of staff to help ensure safety for staff and their families. This risk assessment must consider personal health circumstances, including whether the staff member is in an officially recognised clinically vulnerable group.

Given the known greater risks of Covid-19 to other specific groups, especially older workers and Black and disabled workers, the risk assessment must also consider whether the staff member is in one or more such higher risk groups. For specific resources for Black educators, see Coronavirus FAQs for Black educators and Coronavirus Risk & Safety Advice for Black Educators

The NEU is firm in its advice that staff who are in clinically vulnerable groups, or who live with or care for household members in clinically vulnerable groups, should not be required to return to the workplace and should instead be allowed to work at home.

This should be determined by the individual risk assessment. In cases of disagreement about whether individuals should be required to return to the workplace, the NEU advises that medical advice from the GP should be sought and considered.

When employees are working at home, they should in all cases receive full pay and this time should not be treated as a period of paid or unpaid leave.

You can download and use our template letter to write to your employer, which you can adapt to inform your employer of your health and other personal circumstances. If you are aware of other members who are in a similar position to you, you may wish to liaise with them and your workplace rep to coordinate sending your letter so that all issues are considered by your employer.

New mothers and breast-feeding

Where the staff include women of child-bearing age, employers are required under regulation 16 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to do the following to remove any risks identified to the health and safety of a new or expectant mother, or to that of her baby:

  • Take reasonable action to remove the risks by altering working conditions or hours of work,
  • Provide suitable alternative work, without loss of pay, or
  • Provide suspension on full pay for as long as the risk remains.

All education settings must comply with this. A new mother is an employee who is pregnant, who has given birth within the previous six months, or who is breastfeeding.

Pregnant women will include all employees who are pregnant at any stage of their pregnancy.

The category of new mother also extends to all women who are breastfeeding. Bearing in mind that some women continue to breastfeed their children until 2 or beyond, this could capture a large majority of our members who have returned from maternity leave with the same employer over the past few years, or those have started employment with a new employer – where they continue to breastfeed their child/ren.

Workplace reps and school groups can rely on this provision to seek:

  • Adjustments to working arrangements e.g. arrangements to work from home in accordance with the Government guidance on social distancing.
  • Suitable alternative work that our member can do from home
  • If neither are possible, suspension full pay for as long as the risk remains/until the adjustments/home-working have been put in place.

The NEU advises that breastfeeding mothers should not be in school as there is not sufficient evidence to indicate that it is safe for the mother and baby to do so. There is currently no evidence that COVID19 is transmitted in breastmilk; but there has not been sufficient research to show conclusively that for example an asymptomatic mother who has contracted COVID19 in the workplace (or on public transport to the workplace) will not pass the virus onto her baby through breastmilk or contact.

The Breastfeeding Network advice on breast-feeding and expressing milk for public-facing women workers during the pandemic:

  • Covid-19 is new and will take a while before the evidence becomes more settled.
  • Covid-19 is not known to be transmitted in breastmilk.
  • However, Covid-19 has the potential to contaminate surfaces which could include the outside of bottles and breast pump.
  • Expressing and storing information

Employers should undertake a health and safety risk assessment and breast-feeding mothers should ask to work from home until it is safe for her and her baby for her to work on site.

Flexible Working

School and college leaders will have made immediate adjustments to flexible working arrangements when sites were closed to all but the children of key workers and vulnerable students on 23 March. NEU leadership members have embraced flexible working, including working from home, reduced hours, staggered hours, compressed hours and other creative working patterns to jointly accommodate the needs of students and the childcare needs of staff.

Members can build on these positive steps by working with their leadership team to retain flexibility as schools and colleges open more widely. You are urged to review your existing flexible working policies and procedures, to examine the arrangements that have been put in place during the crisis and to press for the additional flexibility to be maintained for as long as the crisis continues and once it has passed. You may wish to contact your branch or district secretary for examples of good practice elsewhere if your employer or your head has not assisted with flexible working. Have a look at the NEU Flexible Working resources.

Good employers will recognise the benefits of retaining experienced and committed staff and can be urged to take into account the childcare needs of all staff when planning for the wider opening of sites up to the autumn term and beyond.

If women are disadvantaged because their employer does not agree to reasonable flexible working arrangements to allow them to balance work and childcare, they may be able to claim indirect sex discrimination if attempts to resolve the matter individually or collectively do not resolve the issue.

Childcare provision – it’s your prerogative

Many childcare settings have still not opened and many members are still not able to call upon grandparents to care for their children due to the risks to older people.

Some schools have offered to accommodate member’s children; parents and carers will need to consider whether this is safe and appropriate.

One employer tried to direct parents and carers to send their children to a specific private setting. The NEU advises that it is your prerogative as a parent or carer to decide on whether a setting is appropriate for your child. You might decline a setting because it requires a journey by public transport, or you might not be satisfied with the health and safety measures at the site. You cannot be forced to accept a setting recommended by an employer.

If you cannot secure childcare, you should negotiate, either collectively with your colleagues, or individually, arrangements to allow you to work from home. If this is not possible, for example because you don’t think you can work from home safely and effectively with a child to look after, you should consider asking for a period of leave, preferably paid leave.

Be aware of your rights to time off

All parents and carers of children, whether in same sex, opposite sex, or single parent households, are entitled to take advantage of time off for emergencies if they need it. Employees with a year’s service are entitled to apply for parental leave. These are statutory rights to unpaid leave but many employers offer some paid time off and some offer the rights to parents and carers with shorter service.

Time off for emergencies, also known as time off for dependants, can be taken without notice to deal with, for example, a sudden loss of childcare. It is usually unpaid and usually short term, for a period of several hours or a few days. It is useful to help manage an immediate problem for example if your child’s school or nursery is closed suddenly.

Parental leave is usually longer, is sometimes paid and requires the parent or carer to give notice. Working parents and carers can take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave for each child in their care. This leave can be taken at any point before each child turns 18. Usually, it must be taken in blocks of a week, and you can use up to four weeks of it per child each year. If your child is disabled, you can also take the leave in shorter blocks if you need to. Most employers will require that you give at least 21 days’ notice before you take parental leave. If you have a partner who qualifies for parental leave, they can use their entitlement too, to reduce the burden on you.

Consider what other adjustments could assist

Some NEU members have been reluctant to take their children to school because they can only use public transport and it’s not possible to ensure that their child follows the social distance requirements. Members have negotiated an agreement with their head that only staff who can travel to work without using public transport will be included on the site rota.

Take care of yourself if you are working from home

When negotiating your working arrangement with your line manager, consider how many hours, and what working patterns will fit around your childcare needs. Discuss with your partner, if you have one, how and when each of you will work at home. Be conscious that you are more likely to be interrupted by your children while working and are more likely to take on the lion share of other household responsibilities. Factor in some time for yourself to take care of your own physical and mental health needs. Click here for NEU guidance on Mental Health.

Contacting your employer

Do download and use our template letter to write to your employer if you need to.

Contacting the union

Please ensure that you tell your workplace rep that you have sent a letter to the head – they will need this information to best represent the members with the head.  If there is no rep in your school, please volunteer.

Details on how to contact the NEU can be found here if you require further support.

COVID-19

Coronavirus childcare guidanceThis guidance sets out the steps members can take to ensure that parents and carers are not disadvantaged during the Covid-19 crisis by their childcare responsibilities.

NEU Update

CREATING AN ANTI-RACIST CURRICULUM
Tuesday June 23rd
5:00pm
We have reached the stage where almost all our schools are open to wider groups of students and we have worked hard to make sure that this has been done safely – I do want to thank all our Reps for the work you have done.
It is important that all arrangements are reviewed regularly and adapted where necessary – we are suggesting a weekly meeting with your head to do this.
SUSPECTED CASES OF COVID-19
We are meeting with the Local Authority and health officials on Friday to discuss the advice for schools where a child or member of staff displays symptoms. At the moment the LA advice is that the child or staff member should be sent home and asked to be tested. If the test is positive then all members of the “bubble” should be sent home and tested. Some schools are going further than this and sending everyone home as soon as anyone displays symptoms. We hope to get more clarification on this from Friday and also on the arrangements for testing. In the meantime please do get in touch if you have any concerns.
NEU 10 POINT PLAN FOR RECOVERY
As well as continuing to support members in schools the NEU has started to focus on the discussion about what provision should be in place as we recover from lockdown. Our Union has been unfairly criticised by politicians suggesting we do not care about children, particularly disadvantaged children. Nothing could be further from the truth and the NEU has produced the attached 10 point plan outlining some steps that we think need to be taken to support children and families. Point two of the plan calls for an extension to the free school meals programme into the summer holiday and we are pleased that the government has now given into pressure and agreed that this will happen.
We will be discussing this plan with Tower Hamlets LA and how we can implement some of it locally and will consider a Zoom meeting to discuss further.
 
CREATING AN ANT-RACIST CURRICULUM
As you will know, we are holding a meeting on Tuesday to disucss how teachers and support staff can work together to develop anti-racist strategies, particularly with regard to the curriculum and teaching and learning. We will be joined by Daniel Kebede (NEU Executive Black constituency seat holder) and Karen Chouhan (NEU lead policy officer for race equality),
But, the main aim of the meeting is to hear from members who have successfully developed projects and resources. If you or any colleagues have something you would like to share at the meeting please do let us know. We have over a hundred people registered already so please do sign up and encourage others to come along.
PAY PROGRESSION
As you will know, all arrangements for appraisal and performance management have been suspended during this crisis. This means that teachers will not have been able to complete their appraisal review and demonstrate that they have met their targets. In the light of this the NEU will be calling for all teachers to be awarded pay progression in September – it would clearly be unfair for anyone to be refused on the basis of an incomplete review. This is something we will want NEU groups to discuss and take to heads before the end of term – we will send further information in the next week or so, but please do raise this with your head if you get a chance and let us know what they say.
17th June 2020

Coronavirus Update 8th June 2020

With many schools across the country, and in Tower Hamlets delaying plans to reopen, the NEU is continuing to make the case to the government that wider reopening of schools should be delayed until the number of cases is much lower and a robust system of test, track and isolate is in place.

Whatever is happening in your school the NEU is here to support you and your colleagues, to make sure that any arrangements being put in place meet our checklist and are the best they can possibly be for staff and children.

There are four particular priorities for us at the moment – we want to collectivise any concerns that are arising, so we will need to discuss these with members:

1. HELP REDUCE COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION

If your head will not delay wider reopening, ask them to make clear what arrangements are in place for testing and contact tracing, and also what will happen if there is a positive test at the school. We should also Insist on group sizes that allow for the maximum social distancing.

2. PROTECT HEALTH & SAFETY

Please make sure that you have checked the schools plans against our checklist and identify any areas where this isn’t the case. Some issues we have picked up are around cleaning and hygiene and the requirement for lidded bins. It is very important that all arrangements are kept under review – we suggest a regular review meeting between NEU Reps and headteachers at the end of each week.

3. SUPPORT FOR STAFF AT HIGHER RISK

The NEU is asking schools to exercise as much flexibility as possible when drawing up staffing lists – we want “Clinically Vulnerable”staff, and those who live with them, to be able to work from home. Updated NEU Guidance is here: Ensuring safety for staff at higher risk 

The number of staff in school should be kept at a minimum to meet the needs of those children attending. There is a short period of time between now and the end of term and the vast majority of children will still be at home, so there is plenty of work that can be done from home supporting their needs and learning.

4. WORKING ARRANGEMENTS

We are entering a period of hybrid provision and it is important that working patterns are clear, transparent and fair. Staff who are responsible for teaching or supervising in school should not be expected to supervise work at home. Again we suggest that this is part of the regular review process.

MEETINGS THIS WEEK

We have organised Zoom meetings this week as follows:

  • PRIMARY REPS • Tuesday 9th June at 5pm
  • SECONDARY REPS • Thursday 11th June at 5pm

9th June 2020