Making calls home: NEU advice

With schools remaining closed to the vast majority of children, many will be feeling a sense of dislocation and may be missing seeing familiar friends and faces.

NEU members are contacting us for advice on whether they should be calling families at home, and speaking to individual children in their class.

The NEU believes that there is real value in staff making “welfare” calls to speak to children and check how they are getting on.

Many members are already making these calls and there is evidence that they are welcome by parents, and that children are quite excited to speak to their teacher for a few minutes.

However, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed if schools are considering this. This briefing addresses some of those.

Where schools are considering making calls to families, it should be discussed with staff and their union Reps and a protocol agreed.

  • Calling a class of children is likely to take a long time so the impact on other work must be considered.
  • The NEU believes that for any call home the emphasis must be on welfare not checking on work.
  • Calls by teachers or support staff, should be separate to calls to vulnerable children, which will be carried out by the designated safeguarding leads.
  • Clear safeguarding advice should be issued by SLT before calling home takes place.
  • No member of staff should be forced to do this if they do not want – it should be a voluntary exercise.
  • Where possible, the school should invest in software that enables calls to come from a central hub – Call Hub and C3X and two examples – another option is for schools to purchase dedicated phones for staff.
  • Staff should not be expected to make video calls to families and children.
  • If schools are sharing data with staff, all efforts must be made to keep this secure – we recommend staff logging on to the school server as the best option.
  • Where a member of staff is willing to use their own phone, the school should state explicitly that they have permission to do this – clearly any expenses incurred should be reimbursed.
  • Where a member of staff is using their own phone, they should take all necessary precautions to withhold their number and to delete family numbers after use.
  • We recommend that the frequency of calls should be no more than fortnightly.

When staff are calling home, we recommend the following outline:

  • Ask to speak to parent first and give them your name and explain why you are calling.
  • Ask to speak to the child – this could involve the parent and child being on speaker phone together.
  • Keep conversations short, supportive and professional – focus on what the child wants to talk about.
  • Not all children will want to talk to a staff member and there should be no attempt to force this.
  • Do not share personal information on the call.
  • Ask to speak to adult at end of conversation.
  • If there are any concerns following the call, normal reporting procedures should be followed.
  • Please remember that some families will be observing Ramadan so calls should be made later in the day.

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.