Thank you


Friday 28th August


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.



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.


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

Tuesday June 23rd
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Supporting pupils to return to school safely: statement from Mayor John Biggs

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, today made a statement on the wider reopening of schools in the borough. These paragraphs show that the Council is listening to concerns of staff, parents, carers and other members of our community in relation to opening schools too early:

“My job is to build support for a position that both keeps us safe, and around which we can build confidence. I recognise the opinion around 15th June and if this is a date around which schools and families can plan, and be confident, then that is a major step forwards for us in Tower Hamlets and I support it.
Building confidence around a later date, of 15th June, for those schools who do not feel confident with the date suggested by the Government, is a good idea.”

You can read the whole statement here.

1st June 2020



Coronavirus FAQs

This briefing answers some of the most frequently asked questions from NEU members – for full details of our advice and to download the checklist please visit – if you have any concerns talk to your NEU Rep or contact your local office.

You can download a copy of the briefing here: Coronavirus FAQs:

You can read the full briefing below.

The purpose of this briefing is to update members on the latest situation and NEU advice, following the government’s decision to ask schools to begin wider reopening from June 1st.The NEU believes that it is not safe to reopen schools, primarily because the numbers of cases is too high and an efficient system of testing and tracing is not in place.

However, many schools are planning to reopen for larger numbers of children, with most taking a cautious and measured approach to the process. To help Reps and members with this, the NEU has produced a checklist for schools, which we expect to be met before more children are brought back to school.
    1. Who should remain at home?

    The NEU believes that the following staff should remain at home:

    • those who have developed Covid-19 symptoms – a consistent cough or fever or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
    • those who are in either of the vulnerable groups identified by the government
    • those who live with, or care for someone, in either of the vulnerable groups identified by the government
    1. What about Black* staff?

    There is strong evidence that Covid-19 has a disproportionate impact on Black people. The NEU believes that Black staff who feel that they may be at risk should be allowed to work from home.

    1. What should I do if I think I should not be in school?

    You should refer to the NEU guidance and discuss this with your head. The NEU guidance includes model letters for you to use, if you think you may be vulnerable and should continue working from home.

    1. Can all staff be expected to attend school?

    Heads should establish a list of available staff and use this to plan arrangements for reopening to more children. It is not reasonable to expect all staff to be in school for INSET or any other purpose. Government guidelines contain strict measures for contact and social distancing between staff. Contact must be kept to a minimum, therefore staffing should be kept at the minimum to meet the needs of those children attending school.

    1. I am pregnant – can my school start maternity leave early?

    If you are sick with Covid-19, or have symptoms, the school cannot start your maternity leave early. If you are shielding because you are pregnant, and you are within four weeks of the due date, then the school may do this – we would want to persuade your head not to do this, but to allow you to continue working from home.

    1. My head has asked me to take unpaid leave

    If you are unable to attend work you should tell your head that you are available to work from home – you should not agree to take unpaid leave and should contact the local NEU office.

    1. I work part-time – can my head change my days or make me full-time?

    Your head cannot change your contract or working days without your agreement.

    1. Should teachers or teaching assistants be cleaning classrooms?

    No. All areas of the school will need thorough cleaning every day, but this should be done by specialist cleaners, not by teachers or TAs.

    1. I believe the school is not safe
      The NEU has produced a checklist for Reps and members to use. Your school should be “checklist compliant” before wider reopening. If you have any concerns, discuss them with colleagues and ask your Rep to take the concerns of members to the head. We will support members who wish to refuse to work in an unsafe environment.

          Download the NEU Planning Checklists

  • Checklists for primary, secondary and special schools
  • Checklist for vulnerable workers 
There is a full set of guidance, including checklists and model letters on the NEU website
1st June 2020
* Black – The NEU uses the term Black as an inclusive term to signify the anti-racist organising of all African, African Caribbean, Asian people and all those that face racism as a result of the colour of their skin.

Coronavirus Update 1st June 2020

As you know, the NEU is continuing to recommend that schools delay plans for wider reopening until at least June 15th, a position that is supported by recent comments from government scientific advisers.

In Tower Hamlets a small number of schools are admitting larger numbers of children this week, others are planning to do so next week with many delaying to June 15th.

Please note that for secondary schools June 15th is the earliest date they should be admitting students from Years 10 and 12.

Whatever is happening in your school, the NEU is here to support you – if your school is beginning wider reopening this week we must make sure that the environment is safe and also support individual members who have concerns about their safety and well-being.

If your school is not opening this week, we want to use this time to persuade them to delay  and we have produced this NEU Heads Delay Letter for members to request this – a two week delay will save lives.


Please see our website for the checklists for primary, secondary and special schools


We have produced the our Coronavirus Factsheet which answers some of the most commonly asked questions – including advice for individual members as well as advice on staff meetings and cleaning. Please share this with colleagues in your school.

Download our Coronavirus FAQs

All our Reps are doing an amazing job in the most difficult of circumstances and everything you are doing is making the NEU stronger.

1st June 2020

Joint NEU Unison letter to Mayor John Biggs

We have just sent the email below to John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Please consider emailing him yourself at
Please do encourage members to sign up for our Zoom call on Monday at 5pm – we have 200 registered already

Dear John,

Thank you for taking the time to attend the parents Zoom meeting last night.

With over six hundred tuning in this was the largest meeting of its kind anywhere in the country, which clearly reflects a high degree of concern from the local community about the government’s handling of this crisis and their plans for schools.

We all wish the Government was able to command a consensus on these matters as the Government in Denmark has done. But so far the Government has not opened up to teachers, support staff, school leaders or their unions.

We do know the uncertainty and the pressure on school leaders is enormous as it is on staff in our schools.

At the moment we have a very mixed picture in Tower Hamlets and this is only increasing the anxiety amongst our members and parents and may lead to unnecessary conflict in some schools.

As we said at the meeting we acknowledge that the Council cannot instruct schools when to begin wider reopening, this is the case in any situation.

However, we strongly believe that a clear lead from the Council would be welcome by school staff and parents, and there are very good reasons for doing this. You cannot instruct schools, but you can advise them, based on what the evidence is telling us.

The Independent SAGE report published yesterday says:

“The most recent estimates for the UK are that R is between 0.7-1, meaning that all scenarios modelled by SAGE are at risk of pushing R above 1. The school reopening scenario chosen by the government is not one of those modelled by SAGE making the potential impact of reopening even more uncertain. Robust testing systems are not in place everywhere. Additionally, public adherence to social distancing is influenced by trust in the government and its messaging. This trust is increasingly strained.

“We therefore believe that by going ahead with a general school reopening from 1st June, the government is not following the advice of its SAGE group and is risking a new surge in cases of COVID19 in some communities.”

At the press conference Sir David King said, “We want to see (the testing programme) operationally tested for at least a couple of weeks.


In response to this report we believe that it would be a very reasonable step for any Council leader to advise schools to wait that couple of weeks so the level of Coronavirus has receded further and for the test and track programme to become embedded. We believe that such a step would go along way to reduce greatly some of the uncertainty and anxiety that currently exists.

We are aware that many Councils have issued advice along these lines, most recently Sheffield who have said that they do wish their schools to begin wider reopening until June 15th at the earliest in doing this the leader of Sheffield Council has said,”we have been advised by the Sheffield Director of Public Health that the recently announced “test and trace” programme will be sufficiently well established and robust enough to be in in place for June 1st. He has advised that the Test and Trace system should be in place and working effectively for 14 days before schools and nurseries begin increasing their numbers.”

Sheffield Council is no different to Tower Hamlets either in its ability to have an effective track and trace system up and running next week or in its ability to instruct schools what to do.

Therefore, we are writing to you to request that you make a public statement supporting our position that, based on the evidence from Independent SAGE and the need to have effective test and trace in place, June 15th is the earliest date on which schools should begin wider reopening.

We would be willing to negotiate a coordinated return to schools on the basis of such a statement.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Alex Kenny (NEU) and John McLoughlin (UNISON)

Vulnerable Workers Checklist (Updated 9th June 2020)

Here is the updated guidance on staff at higher risk of Coronavirus 9th June 2020

Here is a link to the commentary and guidance for vulnerable workers

Download the guidance: Vulnerable workers guidance

Contacting your employer: a model letter

Use the template letter below to write to your employer if you need to.

Dear [add name]

I am writing regarding your planning for possible wider opening of the school, your risk assessment regarding staffing matters in particular, and my own position.

I would like to draw your attention to the following matters, which I would like you to consider when you are looking at staff availability and my role following any wider reopening:

  • insert information regarding your personal position as discussed above

I would like you to agree that, given these circumstances, I will be able to continue to work from home and confirm to me that that will be the case.

If you propose to require me to return to the workplace, I would be grateful if you let me know the reasons (including a copy of the risk assessment and where appropriate the equality impact assessment relating to my position) for that request.

With best wishes.

[Your name]






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