Over the summer and into the autumn, Prospect’s Education and Children’s Services Group has continued to meet with the Department for Education (DfE).
We have been attending fortnightly stakeholder advisory sessions with DfE officials, ministers, local government representatives, school leadership as well as other education trade unions.
These meetings have been focused on schools opening, and have given us the opportunity to engage at the most senior levels and raise points about issues such as:
- safe systems of working for staff, pupils and visitors and the role of the Health and Safety Executive in supporting this
- the role of Ofsted and accountability measures
- assessment points, plans for examinations and the impact of missed learning on these
- the need for detailed and consistent guidance particularly on social distancing and dealing with outbreaks in settings
- the importance of ‘testing’
- changes to the statutory framework
- a perceived reduction on the attention to other pedagogical activity including school improvement
- the challenges of providing remote learning for educators and children and young people
- the impact of different Tiers
While many of the issues, as far as employees are concerned, relate to school leaders, teachers and support staff regularly working in schools, your Group Executive Council (GEC) has been instrumental in identifying issues of particular relevance to Prospect ECS members and we will continue to engage in this consultation on your behalf.
Clearly the impact of four-week lockdown will need to be discussed, and we are seeing signs that this and the increase in transmission has the potential to stretch consensus to breaking point, particularly for unions representing members who attend schools as their place of work.
As we did using our survey in the summer, we are keen to hear from members with any challenges on schools that you might have. We would also be keen to hear if members think that there is a need for further guidance on their working arrangements, including how visits and visitors should be supported safely.
In addition, Prospect regularly meets the DfE on SEND matters and I will be scheduling regular dialogue with the DfE schools improvement leads over the winter.