Update 5th October 2020

This is an updated version of guidance that was sent out on 30th September 2020.

We are now four weeks into term and it has been great to see all the positive things that are going on in schools to support children and their families. The hard work of school staff across the borough, to make things as safe as possible, is to be applauded.

Naturally, with the number of Covid-19 cases rising, there is a still a lot of anxiety and a number of concerns are coming up.

We are here to offer information, advice and support, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

It is important that we all follow the advice on hygiene and cleaning, and that the guidelines on symptoms, testing and isolation are followed in schools.

The current case rate in Tower Hamlets is now 60 per 100,000, which means we are on the government “intervention list”. If the current measures do not bring the rate down we may see further intervention.

Mayor John Biggs has written an open letter to Tower Hamlets residents asking people to refrain from visiting other households in the borough unless absolutely necessary.

We are in regular contact with the Local Authority and Public Health England (PHE) to discuss the situation and we receive updates on cases affecting schools.

Thirty schools in Tower Hamlets have reported positive cases and have had to take some measures to isolate children and/or staff, following advice from PHE. It is important that, where a child or member of staff develops symptoms or tests positive, information is shared with staff in a timely fashion.

The NEU has published a interactive website where you can find out the Covid-19 rate around your school.

Questions from members

We have had a few queries from Reps and members. Our answers may also be of use to you:

Any member of staff who has to stay at home for whatever reason, should remain on full pay. This includes staff who have to remain at home for childcare reasons because their child has been told to isolate. If you are in this situation and it is being suggested that you will lose pay, please talk to your Rep and contact us immediately. Clearly staff who are not ill with Covid-19 but have to remain at home can work from home.

Staff who were previously shielding should have an individual risk assessment which should identify what measures the school can take to minimise the risk to that person and their contacts with other members of the school community. The NEU believes that where possible staff in these categories should be allowed to work from home.

With this being such a strange start to the school year, with staff settling in to some unusual routines, the NEU does not believe it is appropriate to return to lesson observations, learning walks, book scrutiny etc. We are discussing this with the LA and headteacher unions and hope we will have some joint guidance on this soon. If this is an issue in your school we suggest calling a meeting for NEU members to discuss – we can support you in this.

You can see the full range of NEU advice on our local NEU website.

The Union is very aware of the high levels of domestic abuse and violence in our society which the Covid-19 crisis has further exposed. The Union is developing a model workplace policy and guidance which will be launched in November to coincide with the UN Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls.

In the meantime, the Union has produced three versions of a poster for display in your schools. You can download the posters here. Pull-out versions will also be available in the next edition of the NEU magazine, Educate.


Tower Hamlets Council is proposing to cut support provided to children with SEND by up to £650,000.  The proposals will see 13.5 of the current 28.5 posts deleted from the Support for Learning Service (SLS).

The SLS is a team of specialist teachers who work with SENCos, teachers and TAs to fully include children with SEND in our schools and pre-school settings.

The plans would see cuts:

  • From 5.5 to 2 teachers on the Visually Impaired Team
  • From 6.6 to 3 teachers on the Deaf and Partially Hearing Team
  • All 3.9 posts on the Specific Learning Difficulties Team and all 3.7 in the Language & Communication Team deleted and replaced by just 2 teachers for Language, Literacy & Communication.

The SLS would become advisory, with very limited direct work with pupils.  Schools will be responsible for meeting the needs of growing numbers of high needs pupils but with a drastic reduction in specialist assessments, training and expertise.

These cuts will have a devastating impact on children, families and schools, at a time when they need it most – during a pandemic. 

Pupils with SEND have been hit hardest by Covid: these cuts will only deepen inequalities. A recent survey of provision during “lockdown” praised the SLS for its support to vulnerable families.

Tower Hamlets Council should not be making these cuts at any time, let alone during a pandemic when we have just come out of “lockdown.”

Join our campaign to oppose these cuts and support SEND children in our schools. Please register for the public meeting to stop these cuts on 21st October 2020.

Zoom Link: 880 1048 3942

Password: THNEU

Next General Members Meeting

Our next Zoom meeting for NEU members is on Monday 19th October at 5:30pm and you can register to attend here.

5th October 2020

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