Schools & Academies in England, Member Update – 25th June 2021
We hope this finds you well.
COVID-19 NUMBERS RISING
Schools attendance data published this week shows that Covid-19 is continuing to increase in schools with the number of pupils absent, because of a potential contact with Covid-19 in school, quadrupling in the space of one week. Department for Education (DfE) figures report that 171,600 pupils missed school on 17th June because of potential contact with Covid-19 in school compared to 40,200 the previous week. More schools are also now closing because of increased levels of infection – 5400 secondary school pupils were absent because their school was closed on 17th June (up from just 200 on 10th June) and 2400 primary school pupils were absent due to their school being closed (compared to none on 10th June). Confirmed cases of Covid in schools also increased by nearly 30% - from 6500 cases to 9200 cases. This is obviously a matter of concern and is why it remains as important as ever for risk assessments to not only be strictly adhered to but also regularly reviewed and updated. Although discussions are currently underway about the requirement to self-isolate when fully vaccinated, at present you still need to self-isolate if identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, regardless of whether you have received both vaccinations or not.
HEALTH CARE NEEDS & MEDICATION
Increasingly in schools, there is a requirement being placed upon support staff to support pupils with health care needs and/or administer medication. Whilst this can be a complex area and you may need to contact your local branch for specific help and advice, GMB London has put together an information sheet including some FAQs which may be useful for you. This can be found here.
The most important element of any request being made of you is that you feel confident, trained and comfortable to perform the task. You will see from our FAQs that NJC model job descriptions specifically exclude any reference to duties relating to supporting pupils with health care needs as they are often carried out on a voluntary basis in different ways. NJC guidance states if such duties become a requirement of the job, as part of an agreement between employers and unions, it should be set out in the job description as an additional duty allowing it to be accounted for in the evaluation of the role (and therefore in remuneration as appropriate). Changes to job descriptions should not fundamentally change the contract and members and their Union should be consulted. As always, GMB is here to provide you with help, support and advice on this and any other issue you may be facing at work.
TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER
We are now back visiting schools and it has been good to see so many of our members. If you would like to arrange a visit for your school, please contact us at email@example.com. Our strength comes from our numbers and we have a more powerful voice in the workplace the more members there are. It is particularly important to have as many members as possible when tackling matters such as the administration of medicine and supporting health care needs, as a collective position is often stronger. If you have any colleagues who are not in a Union they can join GMB online at www.gmb.org.uk/join.
Lisa Bangs, GMB London Region Organiser
Keith Williams, GMB London Region Senior Officer