Schools

Schools: recovery, not catch-up

According to the Daily Mail on 27 June, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson used a speech to Tory backbenchers to describe the largest and most vocal schools union, the National Education Union (NEU), as “the No Education Union”. This follows attempts by Boris Johnson to blame the NEU for the low numbers of children returning to school after 1 June, the date announced as the start of wider reopening. The government know there is huge frustration at the lengthy closure of schools and the lack of any clear idea as to when that might change. They understand the risk that, if parents blame them...

Workers' control in schools

The National Education Union has issued guidance to reps on how to escalate in schools where the joint union safety checklist is not being met, up to workers using their individual rights under health and safety law not to work where they see a serious and imminent danger. This can be applied to win safety in schools even where there is no wider opening. One London school used the escalation letter after 1 June, sending it at 10pm on Wednesday, signed by 20 of the 23 NEU members. Reps met the head at 8am Thursday. He apologised, said he would immediately address their concerns, and asked the...

A ragged 1 June, but schools union grows

By a primary school teacher and NEU activist in Lewisham.

On 30 May, four scientists from the government’s SAGE advisory group went public saying that the Tories’ easing of the lockdown, including the wider opening of schools, is unwise at this time.

The number of cases and the infection rate...

A ragged 1 June, but schools union grows

On 30 May, four scientists from the government’s SAGE advisory group went public saying that the Tories’ easing of the lockdown, including the wider opening of schools, is unwise at this time. The number of cases and the infection rate are still high, and we don’t know whether or how much children can spread the virus. As I write on 1 June, the wider opening of schools planned by the Tories for today looks ragged. In Wales schools are not going back. The Assembly has set no date for a return. In Scotland schools will return from 11 August (the regular start to the school year there); Northern...

Debate on the NEU and balloting

1. Todd Hamer

To the casual observer there is something very odd about what is happening in the National Education Union. For some weeks the NEU leadership has rightly argued that it would be unsafe to reopen schools until there is a lower number of Coronavirus cases making possible tracing and...

Unite, schools and 1 June

The big union Unite has signed up to the “education unions' statement on the safe reopening of schools". This statement calls on the government “to step back from 1 June” and identifies the following core principles:

• Safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle

• No...

Children, parents, school workers: stand together!

The education unions are right to say schools should not accept further mass return of pupils until the five tests are met. We should fully support any school workers who will take action on health and safety grounds from 1 June to keep their workplaces open only to vulnerable and key workers’...

Make the schools safe!

The government’s aspiration to open schools to all Year 6, Year 1, Reception and Nursery children on 1 June is likely to be largely unrealised.

That is good. We all want children back in our schools, but the number of cases and the continual spread of the virus indicate that it is not...

Make the schools safe!

The government’s aspiration to partially open schools on 1 June is likely to be largely unrealised. While we all want children back in schools, as soon as safe enough, that is good. Success in resisting unsafe reopening is dependent on union strength on the ground. We must fight for rank-and-file school worker control over the strategy, locally and nationally.

Children, parents, school workers: stand together!

The education unions are right to say schools should not accept further mass return of pupils until the five tests are met. We should fully support any school workers who will take action on health and safety grounds from 1 June to keep their workplaces open only to vulnerable and key workers’ children. That does not mean we, or school workers, are oblivious to how difficult school closures have been on families. Solidarity has covered, and will continue to cover, the increased risk of domestic violence and neglect in a stressful period with less contact between the household and the outside...

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