We hope you have found the emails we have sent the course of this week informative and helpful. Notwithstanding the Government announcing a new National Lockdown on Monday evening which resulted in schools moving to remote online working for all but the vulnerable children and the children of key workers, GMB has continued to make challenge and make representation to DfE about early years, nursery and special schools. GMB believe that the Government’s failure to provide updated guidance for staff in special schools is unacceptable.
As your union, we know that members in special schools often feel more exposed and vulnerable to Covid -19 and GMB has written to the DfE to urge Ministers to publish fresh guidance, in consultation with workers in special schools.
GMB London also recognise that the latest official guidance for schools in England, which states schools are only open to vulnerable children and the children of key workers, means for mainstream schools a significant reduction in numbers and therefore a reduced risk but for special schools pupil numbers remain the same. Therefore, given that infection rates are the highest they have ever been and that Covid – 19 variant B117 is more infectious and easily transmitted, it is paramount members in special schools ensure risk assessments have been reviewed, updated and changed to reflect this. Nobody understands your role better than you and it is for this reason you should be asked to contribute to your risk assessment. If you have a particular concern, you should raise this and there should not be a one size fits all approach to the use of PPE. If you feel you need PPE, ask for it and do not accept that the school has a general approach to its use. Every member of staff is different, just as every child is different and this needs to inform risk assessments.
The letter sent by GMB London to Head Teachers earlier in the week, included Head Teachers of special schools and our advice throughout the week has been for all education staff, unless otherwise stated. If you are experiencing any difficulties in your workplace, or have any concerns please contact your rep, Branch, Regional Organiser or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having reviewed the update from the NJC this week, our advice issued on Tuesday is unchanged and remains. All the email bulletins and guidance sent by GMB London this week can be found on our regional webpage www.gmblondon.org.uk or on Twitter @Schoolsgmblon. If you have any colleagues who are not in a Trade Union they can join GMB online at www.gmb.org.uk/join. Together we are stronger and together we can make a difference.
Our final bulletin of the week will be sent to tomorrow and will include information about Teaching Assistants being required to provide cover for teachers and details of a forthcoming webinar for schools members being held next week.
With kind regards
Lisa Bangs and Keith Williams
Posted: 8th January 2021