Update: UNISON Members in Schools and Nurseries

Please see below UNISON’s response to the new lockdown. Please see the press release here…

Jon Richard, UNISON’s National Secretary for Education and Local Government has also spoken to senior Labour Party politicians to make our policy clear.

In addition UNISON is working with likeminded trade union colleagues in Sheffield to coordinate a local response. We will of course keep you updated.

The following is a link to an article that recently appeared in the TES (Times Educational Supplement) regarding teaching assistants and the pandemic https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-teaching-assistants-schools-exclusive-covid-doubles-number-tas-teaching-lessons  We understand this was one of the most read TES articles of recent times.

Kind regards

Lisa SmithEducation Convenor and delegate to UNISON’s National Schools Committee
David PadleyEducation Convenor
Rod PadleyEducation Convenor and Joint Branch Secretary


Subject: Schools, nurseries and the new lockdown

Like the rest of the country, you’ll have heard about the Prime Minister’s decision over the weekend to introduce a month-long lockdown for England – but to keep schools and nurseries open.

UNISON’s national schools committee, made up of members like you working in schools, met yesterday to debate and decide what our union’s position on this should be.

In short, to help bring the national rate of infection down, to ensure the safety of pupils, staff and the community, and to prevent further damaging ad hoc closures, we believe that schools and nurseries should return to the position of the first lockdown – open only for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers. To ensure effective home learning, the government should urgently fund all necessary equipment for pupils that need it, so that high quality education can continue.

Some members may be uncomfortable with this position, so be reassured that we are firmly committed to getting pupils and staff safely back into schools as soon as the infection rates are under control. Our messages to the government and the media will reflect this.

However, we know that the government intends to press ahead this week with its plan for most schools to stay open during lockdown, so we are calling on the government to introduce urgent measures now to keep you safe, including for vulnerable staff.

Read about all the measures we’re pushing in the attached statement.

We’re making our position clear in the press and to ministers. You can help by letting your school leadership know about the urgent safety requirements we are calling for in the statement above. If you need support, please contact your local branch.

We’ll share all updates on our Facebook page, so if you haven’t already, please join our community of school staff from all over the UK.

Best wishes,

Jon Richards
UNISON Head of Education