NEU Coronavirus update 12th January 2021

NEU DISTRICT MEETING

Monday 25th January

5:30pm via Zoom

Register here

From the reports we have received so far, including our meeting on Friday, it seems that schools in Tower Hamlets are generally taking a cautious approach and are not overwhelmed with large numbers of children – we hope this situation will continue.

We will get a more detailed briefing to you in due course but here is a summary of some our key principles – all in line with government advice

  • risk assessments should be reviewed and updated
  • children should attend school only if absolutely necessary
  • group sizes should be kept small – we suggest 10-12 as a maximum (smaller for special schools)
  • children should not mix between bubbles
  • movement around the school site should be kept to a minimum
  • staffing should be kept to the minimum required to meet the needs of children
  • where staff can work from home they should do so
  • on no account should all staff be expected to attend work

The NEU is pressing the government to change its policy that nurseries, nursery classes and special schools to open for all children – in the meantime we are working with colleagues to make sure numbers in these settings are kept as low as possible.

REMEMBER: every measure that is put in place must be with the aim of reducing movement and close contact and, therefore, reducing the risk of transmission of the virus.

LONDON TEACHMEET • 17th JANUARY 4PM

We are looking at ways in which we can support members in sharing ideas and resources for distance learning during lockdown.

As part of this we are working with colleagues in other parts of London and have organised a TeachMeet on Sunday 17th January at 4:00pm.

This will be a quick fire, “here is something I did“, “have you tried this?” format, which I think could be quite exciting – if you have something you would like to share do let me know.

Colleagues can register here.

OUR NEXT MEETING

Our next scheduled District meeting is on Monday 25th January at 5:30pm.

We have sent all NEU reps a booklet containing motions that have been submitted to NEU Conference. Tower Hamlets and the City NEU can prioritise six for debate. We will vote on this at our next meeting. If you would like a copy of the booklet, please email AlexKenny59@gmail.com.

If the situation faces schools changes we can organise a meeting for Reps if necessary – in the meantime please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any advice, information or support.

12th January 2021

Blended & Remote Learning Guidance January 2021

This post is taken from the email sent by Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney to members on 7th January 2021.

It includes links to:

  1. guidance on blended learning, remote teaching and issues around live-streaming lessons
  2. overarching principles for blended and remote learning
  3. useful resources and fuller information for primary, secondary and special education professionals.
  4. examples of blended and remote learning approaches from members, as well as articles designed to inspire and aid your practice.

Read on for the full message:

Following the Government’s lockdown announcement, we know most of you will be engaged in providing remote and/or in-school learning for pupils.

For many of you, this will be nothing new – online learning, to a larger or smaller extent, has been a new feature of this pandemic.

With schools being closed to the majority of children, remote learning will be a reality, for the next six weeks at least.

The National Education Union (NEU) supports teachers in their professional role of delivering education to pupils in all circumstances.

We have developed our guidance on remote learning from last spring, adapted with the changes that have come over the last nine months.

Our updated guidance on blended learning, remote teaching and issues around live-streaming lessons can be found here.

Here, you will find our overarching principles for blended and remote learning as well as links to useful resources and fuller information for primary, secondary and special education professionals.

There are examples of blended and remote learning approaches from members, as well as articles designed to inspire and aid your practice. We will add to these resources and continue to develop our guidance as the situation evolves.

You all continue to play such an important role in our society, and your union really appreciates you and will do everything we can to support your efforts.

7th January 2021

Coronavirus update 6th January 2021

The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday totally vindicated the NEU. After days of denying it, the government finally admitted that we were right and that schools needed to move to remote learning in order to reduce levels of infection of the new virus.

The current level of infection in Tower Hamlets is 1,188 per 100,000 of the local population, the highest it has ever been.

The situation in schools is rapidly changing. Right now, the focus must be on having a risk assessment in place that minimises the number of staff on the premises, and which keeps us as safe as possible.

It is worth stressing that the new measures have been put in place because infection levels from the virus are too high and need to be brought under control as quickly as possible.

1.  REVIEW YOUR RISK ASSESSMENT

The new strain of the virus means that extra caution will need to be taken to minimise the risk in schools. Risk Assessments should be thoroughly reviewed, in consultation with Reps, with a view to reducing the amount of movement around the building, contact between staff and, where possible, reducing bubble sizes or making them more secure.

2. STAFFING IN SCHOOLS

Under the new restrictions government advice is to avoid travel where possible and that anyone who can work at home should do so.

The NEU thinks that decisions about staffing levels should flow from that and staffing should be kept to a minimum to meet the needs of those children who will be in school.

  • This may mean establishing rotas in agreement with staff;
  • Group sizes for those children in school should be kept to reasonable size;
  • Staff meetings and INSET should be conducted remotely;
  • For each role and activity we should ask the question, “is this something that requires presence on site or can it be done from home?”

3. STAFF IN HIGHER RISK GROUPS
Staff who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) have been advised to work from home, and should have received a government letter to this effect. The NEU believes that the same should apply to Clinically Vulnerable (CV) staff and pregnant women who are in their third trimester.


4. SUPPORTING CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Whether working in school or at home, we must be doing the best we can to support children and families in these very challenging circumstances – through online learning, calling home etc – this will be increasingly important to counter the suggestions in some circles that we are abandoning children and families.

Arrangements for remote learning should be discussed with staff, expectations should be reasonable and we will be issuing further advice and guidance. The NEU is also looking at ways in which the Union can support members in sharing ideas and resources.


There will be many questions in the coming weeks and we will be working hard to make sure we are giving the best support we can to members in schools – please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any advice, information or support.

Coronavirus Update 5th January 2021

Last night, nearly 300 members attended the zoom meeting held by Tower Hamlets & the City NEU. It was was also attended by Rushanara Ali MP who offered her thanks and support to education staff working in the borough and responded to some questions and concerns. We will continue to work closely with both Rushanara and Apsana Begum MP and the local council to ensure that the needs of our members and the communities we serve are met.

Since that meeting, the Government has announced a national lockdown to include the closure of all schools and colleges and a move to remote learning. Early Years Providers, Nursery and special schools are expected to remain open. We will be discussing the situation with members in these settings in the next few days.

There will be many questions and issues arising from this decision which we will address in the coming days. This is a changing situation and we will update advice accordingly and in response to feedback from members.

In the meantime, here are some links to previous advice that members may find useful:

Blended Learning Guidance

Making calls home

Vulnerable & At Risk Members

Domestic Abuse Toolkit

Women, work and childchare

Coronavirus, pregnancy and maternity

Running a zoom meeting

Health & Safety – a brief guide for reps

All our Coronavirus guidance and briefings are available here

Please keep checking the website for updates.

5th January 2021

Update 7th December 2020

NEU CHRISTMAS TREATS

With the end of term approaching , it may be difficult to organise any social events in school, but if you are – or if you want to buy some chocolates, biscuits or other treats for the staffroom we are offering to pay up to £25 from our local budget. If you wish to take advantage of this offer, please send a screenshot of any receipts and your bank details and we will arrange a transfer.

CEV STAFF

The NEU will support any member who wishes to take the option of working from home. Government advice is that CEV people should work from home where possible and we believe that there is currently plenty of work that can be done from home. If there are any CEV colleagues in your school please advise them to get in touch for support.

NEU STRIKE ACTION AT THE SLS

A reminder that NEU members at the Support for Learning Service will be taking strike action against cuts to their service on Wednesday 9th December at 5.30pm

NEU SOLIDARITY STRIKE RALLY

Wednesday 9th December 5:30pm

ZoomMeeting ID: 880 6420 3732 Passcode: THNEU

Please show your support for colleagues by coming along. If you, or the SENCO from your school, would like to say a few words about the value of the SLS please let us know.

TEACHER PAY INCREASE AND PAY PROGRESSION

A reminder that the new pay scales for 2020 should now have been implemented in schools, along with any arrangements for pay progression. Please check the chart with the new pay scales below so members can check they are being paid correctly. Please see here for more advice on pay.

Teacher Pay Scales 2020-21

If there are any problems do let us know – we are supporting members with pay appeals.

You can also get more advice on pay here.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR NEU CONFERENCE

Finally a reminder that we are seeking nominations for ten delegates to represent our District at the NEU Conference 2021 – which is being held online on April 7th, 8th and 9th April next year. Please click here to download a nomination form

Although it is not like the real thing, we do want to send a full delegation – we always encourage newcomers and aim to ensure that the delegation reflects the diversity of our membership.

7th December 2020

Domestic Abuse workplace toolkit

This new NEU toolkit provides a model policy document, a checklist for school and college leaders, a checklist for reps and guidance on how to meaningfully adopt the policy in your workplace.

How to use this toolkit:

  • Print out these NEU postersto raise awareness in your workplace
  • Talk to your union group about why domestic abuse is a whole school/college issue
  • Share the checklist for leaders with your head/SLT and discuss making your workplace more supportive to those experiencing, escaping and surviving domestic abuse.

Share your activities with your branch and email agreed policies to <a href="https://neu.org.uk/equality@neu.org.uk

What is domestic abuse?

Sometimes referred to as domestic violence, domestic abuse in the home can take many forms. The government defines it as “ Any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behavior, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults, aged 16 and over, who are or have been intimate partners or are family members, regardless of gender and sexuality.’ This definition includes so-called ‘honour’-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. You can find more detail on the types of abuse in the NEU Model Policy Document and Domestic abuse and the Workplace Guide.

Who is affected by domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse happens across all social backgrounds and cultures and causes lifelong harm to victims and their children. Anyone  can be affected by domestic abuse. However, in the vast majority of cases, domestic abuse is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.  

Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse. Its estimated that four to nine in every 100 pregnant women are abused during their pregnancy or soon after the birth. Bi women and trans women are also particularly affected.

For other groups of people, the inequalities they face in society ,such as racism, disablism, homophobia and poverty will compound the impact of domestic abuse and pose challenges to seeking support.

What are the signs of domestic abuse?

Here are some possible signs to be aware of:

  • Changes in behavior including uncharacteristic withdrawal, depression, anxiety, distraction or problems with concentration
  • Changes in the quality of work for no apparent reason
  • Arriving late or leaving early
  • Reduced attendance or increased sick leave or high presenteeism without an explanation
  • Needing regular time off for appointments
  • Taking frequent or excessive calls during work time from a partner
  • Repeated injuries or unexplained bruising or explanations that do not fit with the injuries
  • Substance use/dependence
  • Inappropriate or excessive clothing (that might be hiding injuries or bruising)

It’s not easy to spot the signs, or to start a conversation with someone you think may be being abused. Placing these posters in a prominent place and sharing our advice page can offer support and hope to victims.

All of these resources can be found here.

Please use the poster to raise awareness in your workplace.

If you weren’t able to attend the webinar, a recording will be available via our YouTube channel shortly.

equality@neu.org.uk

SLS Solidarity Strike

SLS SOLIDARITY STRIKE RALLY

Wednesday 9th December

5:30pm via ZoomMeeting

ID: 880 6420 3732

Passcode: THNEU

We are working with NEU colleagues on preparations for their strike action on Wednesday 9th December and would like to get as much support for this as we can from members in schools – here are some things you can do.

BANNER If you would like to take a banner for display in your school please let me know today as we are getting them printed tomorrow – see below for the banner design.

LEAFLET It would be great if you could print off copies of the attached leaflet to distribute at your school.

PETITION Please encourage  members to sign our petition, which now has over 1,500 signatures

CONSULTATION I have attached a model response to the Tower Hamlets consultation -the consultation can be found here https://talk.towerhamlets.gov.uk/sls-send

SOLIDARITY STRIKE RALLY
Please encourage colleagues to join the online solidarity rally at 5:30pm on 9th December – if you, or another colleague from your school would like to make a short contribution about the value of the SLS teams to your school that would be wonderful.

We are framing this action as part of the national campaign on SEND funding and we have received many messages of support from NEU colleagues all over the country.

NHS Test and Trace App

A small number of schools have told staff to turn the NHS app off the whole time when they are in schools. This is wrong – Department for Education guidance is clear: pausing contact tracing in schools is only recommended in 3 situations:

  • when an individual is not able to have their phone with them, for example because it is stored in a locker or communal area – this is to avoid the app picking up contacts when the individual is not with their phone
  • when an individual is working behind a Perspex (or equivalent) screen, fully protected from other colleagues and members of the public, as the individual is considered to be adequately protected from contracting coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • in a health or care setting where staff are wearing medical grade PPE (for example, a surgical mask) as these individuals are also considered to be adequately protected

Where mobile phones are allowed to be on and with the student at all times, it is recommended that contact tracing is left on by students, to be consistent with general guidance on the use of the app.

There are still likely to be times when students and staff are not near their phones, such as during physical education or in some work placements in FE.

In these situations, contact tracing should be switched off, and settings might want to issue reminders to pause contact tracing for these sessions and turn it back on afterwards.

Where mobile phones are required to be left in lockers or bags in communal areas at all times. It is recommended that settings advise or require students to pause contact tracing whilst on the premises under these circumstances, to avoid the app misidentifying close contacts. When someone switches it off, the app will give the user the option to set a reminder for 4, 8 or 12 hours, after which they will receive a notification to remind them to switch contact tracing back.

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.

Update: 18th November

With the Covid case rate continuing to rise in Tower Hamlets – now at 257 cases per 100,000 – we know that things are becoming more difficult in schools.

Sadiq Khan was absolutely right when he described school staff as heroes for going “above and beyond the call of duty” at our London NEU meeting last week,

Below is an updated joint union checklist which addresses the latest situation and also a short briefing on use of the NHS Test and Trace App in schools.

We are continuing to work with Reps to address issues of concern to members and have been supporting Reps in meetings with headteachers – so please do not hesitate to contact us if there are issues that need addressing in your school.

DIRECTED TIME

It is important to note that the provisions for Directed Time for teaching staff have not been abandoned during the pandemic, so schools should be making sure that the core work carried out by teachers falls within the allocated 1265 hours. You can find out more here.

We will be discussing the latest situation and our advice to members at our meeting on Monday 23rd November so please do register to attend.

STRIKE ACTION BY NEU MEMBERS AT THE SLS

NEU members at the Support for Learning Service (SLS) will be taking strike action on Wednesday 9th December – this is against the proposals to cut funding which includes job cuts, pay cuts and changes to contracts.

We want members in schools to support their colleagues in the SLS by signing this petition and we would encourage you to call a school meeting on 9th December and invite a colleague from the SLS.

NOMINATION FORM
A reminder that we are seeking nominations for ten delegates to attend the online NEU Conference in April 2021 and for vacancies on our Committee.

If you would like more information about this please do not hesitate to contact us.

Coronavirus: what you need to know about pregnancy and maternity

This advice is taken from the national NEU website where you will find a range of resources to support and advise you.

Download the NEU Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts poster:

  1. Pregnant women, women on maternity leave and mothers who are breastfeeding have specific protections under health and safety, equality and employment legislation. Many women working in education also have extra contractual rights. During the coronavirus crisis, these rights, including notice rights, still apply.
  2. Many head teachers and employers are taking sensible precautions and implementing reasonable arrangements to protect the health, safety and welfare of pregnant women and their unborn babies. NEU reps are encouraging this approach and are helping to facilitate dialogues around safe working.
  3. If you are pregnant, whatever stage of your pregnancy, we say you should not be in school if a risk assessment does not support this. Government advice is that pregnant women  should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household. Read the NEU advice for staff at greater risk.
  4. All pregnant women should notify their head teacher of their pregnancy as soon as possible, to help make sure that appropriate steps are taken to protect them and their unborn babies.
  5. Employers have a legal obligation to assess and review the risks at work for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who have returned from maternity leave. Exposure to Covid-19 does represent a risk to teachers and school staff who are looking after children in schools. Different risks will arise in different education settings.  The NEU has endorsed the Maternity Action briefing: Protection of pregnant women at work
  6. We have agreed with the NAHT and ASCL that those with health conditions which make them vulnerable to being badly affected if they catch the virus should not be included on staff rotas for working in school during a lockdown. The NEU thinks that the same applies to pregnant women. Pregnant women should not be required to attend school during a lockdown or if the risk assessment does not advise that it is safe for them to do so.
  7. Employers can adjust working arrangements to enable teachers and support staff to work from home if it is safe to do so. Extra care will need to be taken to assess any risk that the workspace and available equipment might pose. Many roles can be undertaken from home but if working from home is not possible, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should be offered suitable alternative employment at the same rate of pay, if this is available. If neither option is possible, employers can arrange for women to be medically suspended on full pay for as long as necessary to protect their health and safety. Full pay should be based on usual earnings.
  8. If a pregnant woman is sick, she should receive sick pay. Going onto sick pay while pregnant does not automatically trigger maternity leave. Maternity leave can be triggered early if the baby is born early, if the woman gives notice to start maternity leave early, or if the woman is absent for a pregnancy related reason in the last four weeks of her pregnancy. “Pregnancy-related” could include a medical suspension related to Covid-19 following a risk assessment.
  9. Some members are at risk of redundancy as a consequence of the pandemic. If a woman’s job is at risk of redundancy during her pregnancy or maternity leave, she must be offered any suitable alternative vacancy that is available. Employers are not prohibited from making pregnant women or new mothers redundant, but we have joined a campaign to change the law this year. Follow these links to read our joint briefing and find out how to ask your MP to support the Redundancy Protection Bill.  
  10. While the virus remains a threat and social distancing continues, keeping in touch during maternity leave is as important as it has ever been. Heads and leaders should agree and review arrangements for keeping in touch with women who are on maternity leave with a view to re-establishing normal working arrangements when it is safe to do so.

For more information see the NEU national website pages: Coronavirus: pregnancy, maternity and childcare