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Coronavirus update: bank holiday working in schools

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A message from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman to members

As you will be aware, the government has asked that, wherever possible, schools try to remain open over the Easter holidays for the children of key workers and those deemed to be in the vulnerable category. 

Over the last few days, we have had several enquiries about what this means for the bank holidays. 

In our joint union guidance, we have stated that "we do not expect schools to be open on Good Friday or Easter Monday." The primary reason for this is that we expect the demand for places will be much lower over the Easter weekend because families will want to try and spend that time together wherever possible. 

However, we are also aware that as things have developed over the last seven days, there is increasing concern about the pressure on the NHS over the Easter weekend. The phone calls and emails we have received indicate that some schools are now considering how best they can support the families of key workers over the bank holiday period. I know from your emails that many of you are particularly concerned about the children of frontline NHS staff at this time. 

If, after careful consideration and consultation, schools decide to remain open during the bank holidays, our guidance certainly does not stop them from doing that. You will know your communities best. 

Where schools are considering opening on these days, our advice is to start by determining whether or not demand exists for provision from key worker (particularly NHS) parents. We expect that many schools will find families have already made alternative plans and will not expect schools to be open on the bank holidays. 

Depending on parents' response, we suggest schools then engage their staff to determine availability. You shouldn't compel staff to work, but we know that many will feel motivated to help, given the extraordinary circumstances. 

It is important to re-emphasise that this is a matter for local judgement and local agreement. It is by working together that we will find the right solutions. 

We will update our FAQs to reflect this guidance. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that we have updated our FAQs to include our view on the 'hub' approach that we know some local authorities are pursuing; I know this continues to be a pressing issue for a number of you.

First published 01 April 2020