Schools & Academies in England, Member Update – 25th September 2020

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Dear Member 

We hope this finds you well. 

Thank you for taking the time to complete our survey and contact us with your experience of what's happening in your school. Here are some of the survey's findings - 

  • 87% of members have seen the school's risk assessment and this is an increase of nearly 20% since June 
  • 65% report not having input to the risk assessment 
  • 82% of members now have access to PPE and this is nearly a 50% increase since we asked in June, which is great 
  • 74% of our members can wear face coverings if they so wish, following a GMB campaign for face coverings to be allowed in schools 
  • 60% responded that social distancing between adults is not happening in their school 

The results of the survey also showed that nearly 60% of support staff feels unsafe at work and this is a significant increase on the figure of 31% in our June survey.  Sadly though, this is not surprising given the rising infection rate and problems with the Test and Trace system and GMB has written jointly with other Unions to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, to raise the concerns of our members. 

The letter asks the Government, amongst other things to review bubble sizes; ensure school and college staff are given priority in accessing testing; for homeworking arrangements to be introduced in areas covered by local restrictions/lockdown for clinically vulnerable staff and for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to be working from home, whether or not their workplace is in an area covered by local restrictions.  

At present, there are different practices amongst schools, often in the same local area, in how information about suspected and confirmed cases is shared with staff and parents which can cause confusion and distrust. GMB has therefore asked for guidance to be issued to schools on what information should be shared. The letter also calls on the Government to ensure full pay for staff working for companies providing services to schools, such as cleaning or catering, during all periods when schools are closed due to Coronavirus and for additional long-term resources to be given to schools to cover the cost of enhanced cleaning, both for staff costs and materials.  

GMB is your Union and is here to support you, listen to your concerns and give you a collective voice. Here is a link to an article which appeared in The Independent about GMB London Region school support staff 

​If you are required to self isolate, Part 2 Para 10.9 of the NJC Terms and Conditions ’Green Book' will apply, meaning absence should not be recorded as sickness absence. Additionally, guidance issued to all Local Government Employers on 12 June stated, that for the period of self-isolation if you can work from home you should do so and for employees who cannot work at home, employers will have no option other than to accept that they must stay at home on full pay for the duration of the self-isolation period. Only if you develop symptoms of COVID-19, should you transfer onto sickness absence leave and then the usual provisions of the sickness scheme will apply.  

The Government advice is that you should only be tested if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 e.g. a new continuous cough, a high temperature, a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia). It is important to self isolate for 14 days as being tested without symptoms, because of close contact, could result in a negative result from being tested too soon in the virus’ incubation period. 

GMB hopes that there will be a review of the DfE guidance, in light of the lived experience in schools in the past two weeks, and we will of course be in touch with any updates. 

In the meantime, if you have any issues in your workplace, or concerns about your safety please contact your local Branch, Regional Organiser or for support and advice.  If you know anyone who is not in a Union they can join GMB online at

We know this is a time of uncertainty and worry and GMB is on your side and here for you. Together we are stronger and together we can make a difference. 

Stay safe.

Best wishes, 

Lisa Bangs, GMB London Region Organiser — Schools and Academies

Keith Williams, GMB London Region Senior Organiser 


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