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Coronavirus update (12 March 2020)

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A message from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman to members

I want to reassure you that NAHT is in daily contact with the Department for Education about government decisions and messages regarding the national response to Covid -19.

We are taking a clear and responsible approach, and we have refrained from media comment on speculative stories and what the government “might do”. This situation is serious enough already; it does not need fuelling with headlines about hypothetical situations. We will be commenting on factual situations.

We have been collating all the questions received from our members on this issue to date. These have been discussed with the government so that they can inform their scenario planning. For your information, you can read the questions here. Please do continue to send your questions to us (policy@naht.org.uk). We have reiterated that school leaders need clear advice directly from the government. It’s worth repeating that the current advice from government, which includes their response to some of the attached questions, can be found here.

Currently, our focus is on the immediate situation facing schools, but as you would expect, we are also raising questions about SATs, exams and accountability arrangements.

I know you are already dealing with the effects of parental and carer concern. Our advice team has been helping colleagues with this daily.

As important public servants in the community, people will turn to school leaders for guidance and reassurance. Our advice will help and change as the government takes further steps. The main point is to follow the guidance of the government. Avoid joining in speculation that will serve to fuel public concern.

It is widely reported this morning that the government is considering introducing significant measures today. When we know exactly what those measures are, we will comment on them and produce advice for members.

This is a tough situation. We are prevailing on the government to provide more and better guidance. We should remember that the situation is unprecedented. As school leaders, you are used to making the right decisions based on evidence and guidance. There is no reason to change that approach.

Read our current advice, and more will follow.

First published 12 March 2020