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Coronavirus: latest update from NAHT

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A message from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman to members

Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to complete the survey we sent out last night. The response rate has been incredible – we cannot recall any other survey ever receiving such a high number of responses. We have already begun to analyse and read the thousands of replies we received overnight. If you have not yet had the chance to fill in the survey, you can do so here.

Today I wanted to provide you with a quick update on a number of other important issues. I appreciate many of these only apply to members in England, and we will continue to provide nation-specific updates as we have been doing.

Hubs

At the end of last week, the Department for Education (DfE) published its guidance on the use of hubs. You may recall that at the beginning of this crisis, we published our guidance relating to hubs, which highlighted that keeping numbers low in individual schools should be the first preference and no school should be forced into a hub model if they had their own arrangements in place.

We have been sharing our work with the DfE, and we were pleased to see that its guidance is very closely aligned to the advice we put out a few weeks ago. We note the following statement by the DfE:

“Provision through individual schools and settings, where possible, means fewer people in a single setting, less social contact and therefore a reduced risk of spreading the virus. It will also mean children and young people being supported by familiar staff in familiar settings at this unsettled time. Where schools and settings have no alternative but to close, for example, due to staff shortages, agreement to combine resources and ‘pair up’ with a neighbouring school or setting (or within a geographically close multi-academy trust) should be explored in the first instance.”

Maintained nursery schools

Thank you to all of our maintained nursery school members who have been in touch over the last few weeks to share with us the specific issues you are currently facing. I wanted to let you know that at the end of last week, we wrote to Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford to raise a number of these issues and asked her to consider them as a matter of priority.

EYFS: coronavirus disapplications and paediatric first aid

To support schools and early years providers, the government has temporarily disapplied and modified some aspects of the EYFS statutory framework.

We know from our conversations with members that the paediatric first aid requirements have been a particular issue, and we have been sharing these concerns with the government for a number of weeks. The new government guidance addresses this directly. While it is important to read the advice in full, the key point is as follows:

“If children are aged 2-5 within a setting, providers must use their ‘best endeavours’ to ensure one person with a full PFA certificate is on-site when children are present. If after using best endeavours they are still unable to secure a member of staff with full PFA to be on-site then they must carry out a written risk assessment and ensure that someone with a current First Aid at Work or emergency PFA certification is on-site at all times children are on premises.”

Exams and assessments for secondary students

There is no easy or perfect solution when it comes to awarding grades in the absence of exams for secondary pupils this year. NAHT continues to work with the DfE and Ofqual on the details of how this will work, and we are raising our members’ concerns with the appropriate bodies. Ofqual’s consultation on the exceptional arrangements for awarding GCSE, AS and A level grades remains open until tomorrow (Wednesday 29 April 2020). 

Last Friday, Ofqual also published its consultation on proposals for the awarding of vocational and technical qualifications in 2020 - this closes on Friday 8 May. NAHT will be submitting responses on behalf of members, but we’d encourage you to respond if you have the time.

First published 28 April 2020