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NAHT(NI) Coronavirus - Further update 24 March 2020

NAHT(NI) continues to be at the forefront of providing guidance and support to our school leaders and it is gratifying to note this information is being shared with teachers at this difficult time.  Our NAHT(NI) team continue to work tirelessly on your behalf.

Following this afternoon’s discussion with DENI officials, we can confirm that the Minister for Education has issued information to schools regarding school-based care and hub/cluster schools.  This information includes an FAQ document.

NAHT(NI) continue to feed back to DENI on your concerns.

We can advise that the education workforce have been redefined by DENI as critical workers.

Hubs/ cluster schools

DE are keen to promote the idea of shared provision, hubs / clusters, in the belief that neighbouring schools that have small numbers of pupils attending could benefit from shared provision. This would mean sharing staff and reducing the demands on staff overall.

We wish to advise members very clearly, that the decision to get involved in this effort is yours.  

Schools considering engaging in a shared provision would need to agree protocols around:

leadership arrangements
how places are allocated
(be careful if you admit a child from another school while turning away your own pupils)
information sharing

children from another school should be accompanied by staff from their own school

who plans the programme of activities?

will you have enough soap and hot water available?

how is behaviour to be dealt with?

fairness in commitment from partner schools

already many schools are closed and staff not at school so will these members of staff be directed to help by their Principal?

There will be many other considerations you may have, and you should factor all of these into your decision on whether or not it is safe to open. 

NAHT(NI) recognises the vital importance of assisting our essential workers as part of a national response to combatting Coronavirus.

We are advised that the EA and DE are joining ranks to provide a central advice and protocol arrangements group to assist hub/cluster schools.   We have no further details on this group.

DENI, however, will not be issuing any formal guidance on creating clusters / hubs, believing instead that it would be better if school leaders come up with creative solutions in their own local areas. We have warned DE that this is another undue burden on beleaguered school leaders and we do not believe it is at all well-conceived.

The decision is yours and that of local colleagues on whether you should get involved.

Your decision is final. Your decision needs to be driven by the overriding concern for safety.

Working with key worker parents

As schools have been asked to provide this essential care service for our key worker parents, we need our key worker parents to only request this service as their very last resort. We understand many schools have opened in order to provide care only not to have any children arrive in school.  Parents who no longer need a place MUST inform the Principal as soon as they know they do not require a place.  The Prime Minister’s announcement is clear, only attend work if you cannot work at home. School staff are putting their own safety and that of their families at risk as they attempt to help our key workers.

Alternative Care Provision

NAHT(NI) understand that the Belfast Trust is operating childcare centres for their staff.  We will pass on any further information on similar provision within other health trusts.  If key worker parents have the opportunity open to them to use these facilities they should be encouraged to use them.  NAHT(NI) have asked DENI to explore this further.


The subject of PPE continues to be raised by NAHT(NI).  We are aware and understand the importance that limited PPE supplies must go to the clinical needs of the NHS first.  DE and EA have put forward a request for low level, not hospital standard masks and gloves for all staff in schools.  At this point we do not know when these are to be made available.

Suspension of Services

EA have advised that they will only be dealing with business critical services.  The following are all on hold:

Compulsory redundancies

Staff exit schemes

Sub Teachers

We wish to reiterate that members who had employed sub teachers must honour payments for the period of their booking and must not cancel future sub teacher bookings.

First published 24 March 2020