Education unions: we all want a safe return to school

Education unions: we all want a safe return to school

Following a meeting with Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, about the reopening of schools in England, unions including Prospect have made a joint statement.

raised hands in front of blackboard

Prospect represents thousands of professionals in its Education and Children’s Services group.

Steve Thomas, Prospect national secretary said:

“We all want to get children back learning in school as quickly as this can be safely achieved.

“It is vital to help protect vulnerable and disadvantaged children and critical to stabilising the home and school lives of working families across the country.

“The voices of all those working in schools and with children and young people needs to be clearly heard by government and employers in this process. 

“The professionals represent have the front line experience to make sure that everyone is kept safe in every setting, and they deserve to have a healthy and safe workplace as much as any other worker.”

Thomas also emphasised that this went beyond the reopening of schools – as important as that is.

“I hope we can now establish a proper, and ongoing, relationship between the DfE and the profession to assist, practically, on how children and young people return from this and what can be done to ensure that no children are left behind.

“The government is going to need to rebuild the confidence of parents, and develop good guidance not just on schools re-opening, but on other important issues, such as SEND, dealing with attendance issues, as well as children who are missing education.”

The statement

The joint statement – signed by Prospect, the TUC, NEU, NASUWT, NAHT, GMB, UNISON, Unite, AEP and NSEAD – says:

Unions representing school staff held a productive meeting with the secretary of state for education.

We all want a safe return to school for staff, children, parents and the wider community. 

At the meeting we took the opportunity to discuss the concerns raised by our member working in schools about reopening on June 1. And we stressed the importance of monitoring the impact of returning more pupils to school and listening to the experience of school staff.

We will be working closely with the department to ensure that the guidance is a living document, informed by all those delivering care and education in every school in the country.

The education secretary has agreed a further meeting with unions in two weeks' time to discuss any revisions needed to the guidance on safe working in schools and to discuss further stages of reopening.

Over the next two weeks we will be working with our members to submit their experiences of reopening schools, beyond the children of key workers and others who have stayed at school throughout the crisis, and will raise these issues with the education secretary.

The education secretary has also agreed to invite school support staff unions and the TUC onto the DfE's formal stakeholder forum, and to hold a further discussion with all unions about support for disadvantaged pupils following the disruption of recent months.