What unions are doing to the schools that ignore or change Government guidance  


Department for EducationAll school personnel and students who are eligible should be encouraged to accept the vaccine offer.

National Education Union: All school staff are urged to get fully vaccinated and encourage unjabbed colleagues to do. All staff members should receive time off for jabs, if necessary. 


DfETake steps to improve air flow and ventilation in poorly ventilated areas.

NEUIf ventilation isn’t good enough or cannot be improved in schools, decrease the number of students in the area, their time in the room and/or temporarily leave the building.

Covers for the face

DfERecommendations: Students in Year 7, staff, and visitors should cover their faces when entering classrooms.

NEU: Must be worn by pupils and staff in secondary communal areas and by primary staff in communal areas.

Social distancing

DfEIt is no longer recommended that children be kept in ‘bubbles’ or consistent groups. You can have assemblies. There are no other arrangements that can be made to prevent people from mixing during lunch.

NEU: Reintroduce measures to minimise mixing and do not adopt DfE guidance to consider combining classes to address staff shortages. It is best to avoid assemblies across the entire school, or within year groups.  

Isolation and testing

DfEStaff and Secondary School pupils will test at home twice per week, approximately three to four times a day.

NEU: Strongly encourage testing for all staff and pupils at least twice weekly. You might consider texting parents reminders about test dates twice per week. 

Manpower shortfalls

DfTPrincipals are the best placed to decide the number of workers needed to support their students’ needs. However, school leaders should also consider merging classes

NEU: Teachers at a school other than supply workers should be expected only to cover for absence in ‘circumstances that are not foreseeable’.  

MPs today urged ministers to ‘get a grip’ on the teaching unions and stop them putting children in a ‘pandemic straitjacket’ after members were told to dismiss Government guidance and impose their own stricter rules.

According to the National Education Union, headteachers should not combine classes when there is staff absence. This was despite Education Secretary Nadhim Zhawi telling them otherwise.

Government guidance also states that pupils should only stay home if they have tested positive for Covid or have symptoms.

Union chiefs told teachers that this right should be extended to students who are afflicted by the virus. These children can only return when they have received a negative PCR result. 

National Association of Schoolmasters and Unite as well GMB, Unison and Unison support the NEU’s document. These organizations also represent teachers, staff, and students.

Prominent Tory backbencher Andrew Bridgen, who represents North West Leicestershire, said: ‘Who is speaking up for the children? Nadhim Zhawi should get to grips with unions, and remind them they work in public service.

Liz Cole of the parent campaign group UsForThem told the Telegraph: ‘It’s incredible to see these unions suggest something that goes so far beyond what the Government has required for schools. It is a terrible injustice to the children, and it puts them back in a pandemic trap.

Conservative MP Steve Brine, a Tory MP said: ‘This is the drip, drip of getting some people to the place they always wanted to be and it’s the children who lose out. It’s not just the law or the rules, as we have seen in other fields, which causes the problems, it’s what the signals are doing. Ministers can give an inch, but it takes a mile. 

According to the Department for Education (DfE), combining classes is possible. Teachers infected by Covid can ‘deliver lessons at home’ and then have them streamed to students in controlled classrooms.

A NEU briefing document stated, however that it should not occur because it would ‘increase viral transmission’. Furthermore, teachers shouldn’t be routinely expected to teach other classes than their own.

The document says: ‘Cover is not an effective use of a teacher’s time and collapsing/combining classes is not only cover, but increasing the numbers of pupils in classrooms, or having large numbers of pupils in halls, will also only serve to increase transmission of the virus.’ 

Headteachers were notified by the DfE via email on Sunday that they might want to make use of existing support, teaching and temporary staff staff in order to maintain schools’ accessibility amid staffing concerns.

You may also want to combine classes, as pupils don’t have to stay in the same groups.

Students are back at school this week. Due to an increase of Covid-19 cases, secondary school pupils in England will need to wear masks to lessons.

Students in secondary school or college are encouraged to take a test at the site prior to returning to classes.

Ian Bauckham (chair of Ofqual) suggested that schools might need to stop teaching’specialists’ like music in order to accommodate staff absences.

Bauckham posted a case study on the DfE portal to heads and suggested that two or more classes can be combined and taught by one teacher in a bigger space. This could offer an alternative to distant learning in cases of staff shortages.

The Department for Education (DfE) had told headteachers they may want to consider 'combining classes' in the event of staff shortages to keep face-to-face teaching in place. Pictured: Year 10 students wear face masks in lessons at Park Lane Academy in Halifax

Headteachers were told by the Department for Education that they might want to consider “combining classes” in the case of staff shortages in order to maintain face-toface teaching. Pictured: Year 10 students wear face masks in lessons at Park Lane Academy in Halifax

Are there any testing methods for secondary school returnees? 

In order to reduce transmission of Covid-19 in secondary schools, each school has been requested to administer a test on the spot to all pupils prior to their return to class this term. 

Tests were ordered by colleges and schools before Christmas, and they have been received in time for students’ return.

Pictured: Covid tests at Park Lane Academy in Halifax

Pictured at Park Lane Academy Halifax: Covid test

Chiefs of government education say that they will be able order more tests via a different supply route. 

Students returning from university are advised to take a test prior to their return to campus.

It is a good idea to keep testing yourself twice weekly for students in college, university and secondary schools. Early years and education staff can also continue to do so.

If an outbreak occurs, the patients will be asked for more frequent testing. 

Source: Gov.uk 

His words were: “Where students in the same year group are in contact in any way in classes for different subjects or informal social time, it shouldn’t be an issue to bring them together in such a manner as is envisaged here.”

However, the coalition of educational unions suggests that school policies to reduce mixing – including keeping people as similar as possible – need to be restored. They also recommend that whole-year group assemblies be avoided.

The NEU spokeswoman said that there are proven ways to cope with teachers being absent. For shorter periods, you can ask HLTAs (higher-level teaching assistants), to teach classes.

“All these paths must be exhausted before mixing classes can be considered. The combination of classes poses clear dangers, as it can cause more virus spread and more disruption.

“Practically, this solution is not available to all schools. England’s school system is one of most overcrowded in the Western world. Combining classes is not possible in most school buildings.

Covid-19 is more dangerous for educators than other occupations.

The government should do all it can to prevent Covid-19 transmission at schools. They shouldn’t make any recommendations which could cause more disruption to education.

According to a spokesperson for the DfE, it is their priority that pupils continue face-to-face education and reap its benefits.

“We are aware that schools and colleges may find it hard to follow their normal timetables if there are a lot of absent staff. That is why we support schools in putting into place the appropriate contingency plans.

“It would be up to each school to determine if it is appropriate to combine classes but we are clear that face-toface learning is the priority.”

Britain could be CRIPPLE by unions: New Covid rules allow staff to take off 28 days without sick leave under the latest vaccine rollout measures

New Covid rules mean that public sector workers can take 28 days off work and not have to write a note of sick. Unions tell them. 

The new rule was created so that GPs could administer vaccinations without charge. However, there are concerns workers who want to remain at home may abuse it.

Unison, a public sector union, informed its members that the UK Government had made temporary changes to the provision for ‘fit notes’ up until January 27, 2022.

Employers can ask for evidence of sickness (such a fit note or proof of illness) only after 28 days (including non-working day).

Unions are telling public sector workers they can now take 28 days off work without a sick note as a result of new Covid rules. Pictured: A deserted Waterloo Station at 8.15am Tuesday

New Covid rules mean that public sector workers can now be absent for 28 days without sick leave from unions. Pictured: A deserted Waterloo Station at 8.15am Tuesday

MPs have urged the Government to reverse the rule over concerns it could be abused at a time when the UK is facing staffing crisis. Pictured: Overflowing bins in the Walton area of Liverpool

The rule was imposed by the government after MPs raised concerns that it might be misused at a time of crisis in the UK’s staffing. Pictured: Overflowing bins in the Walton area of Liverpool

It circulated the updated to its 1.4 million members and stated that proof of sickness could not be requested before 28 days.

Prior to the change in rules, any person who had to be absent from work due to illness or for longer than a week required to present a doctor’s note. 

When the Government introduces changes to testing or isolation rules, it has made this rule change.

To confirm a positive test for Covid, anyone using a lateral stream test at home to test will not have to do a PCR test after January 11.

According to the Telegraph, MPs demanded that the Government reverse this rule due to fears it would cripple the country.

At the moment, around 1.3million Britons live under house arrest. The NHS, railway services, and bin collections are all weakened by the absence of staff.

The situation will only get worse with 183,000 Brits sent to isolation each day, on average.

There are growing calls from experts, businesses and even NHS leaders themselves to cut self-isolation to five days to avoid paralysing the economy and disrupting vital services.

The virus is causing train and bin collection services to grind to a halt. Meanwhile, schools warn that there may not be enough teachers available to teach their classes. 

Brendan Clarke Smith is a Conservative MP who sits on the Education Select Committee. He told The Telegraph that the rule could be abused, especially in those sectors “where we don’t have the money to allow for that to occur.”

He added: ‘There is a debate to be had about the 28 days – that is quite a long period for someone to be off for, and in terms of what that will do to the workforce.

Sir John Hayes (a Conservative MP, former minister) stated to the paper, “That might have been necessary during a period when we were getting out the booster fast, but it is certain that we must review it as soon possible.”

Pictured: NHS trusts across England have declared 'critical incidents' indicating that they may be unable to deliver vital care to patients in the coming weeks due to the staffing crisis

Pictured: NHS Trusts in England declared “critical incidents” to indicate that they might not be able to provide vital care for patients over the next few weeks because of the staffing crisis

More than 20 NHS trusts are now in a ‘critical situation’ following the massive staff shortages caused by Omicron.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said more than 20 of England’s 137 trusts — 15 per cent of the entire health service — have signalled they may not be able to deliver vital care in the coming weeks.

The spokesperson stated that alert levels are not an indicator of how pressures were being applied to the health care system. It only gives a glimpse into the past.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister revealed that hospitals have cancelled their operations. He also said plans were being made to call the Army in case the situation worsens.

The cancellation of 17 non-urgent services at Greater Manchester hospitals was due to the fact that 15 percent of health chiefs were at home with Covid.

Unison claimed it only circulated rules the Government introduced in order to make sure its members knew about the changes in legislation.

Jon Richards (assistant general secretary to Unison) stated that these temporary rules were made by the Government in order to ease pressure on GPs.

The pandemic was fought by essential services being maintained by the public sector.

“Most workers have been forced to continue working in their offices, so they are at greater risk for illness.

Many public sector workers would rather be away from work because of the low sick-pay.