A message from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman to members
Early this morning the Government published guidance for schools on maintaining educational provision. This sets out the list of Key Worker categories that may be prioritised for educational provision in the period of wider school closure.
The list is extremely broad in nature and I know this has caused a high degree of consternation for members. Disappointingly, the guidance offers no steer on prioritisation for offers of provision, nor what safe levels of attendance are, which we were earlier led to believe should not exceed 20% of school roll. We will be seeking urgent clarification on these matters today, so that schools can plan accordingly.
It is important to note one key line in the government’s FAQs: “Many parents working in these critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be. This is an offer to parents and carers and there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so.”
This should be the headline message today.
We note that the FAQs have indicated that families where one parent is a key worker should be eligible for the provision. Schools will have to prioritise and, in the absence of any government advice, we have updated our guidance to support schools in this process.
The lack of clarity on these matters does not change the immediate actions required of schools, as set out in the NAHT advice yesterday. We strongly suggest that all schools should:
- share the new definition of key workers as set out in the government guidance, and,
- ask parents to inform the school if they believe they meet the key worker criteria and would like their child to be considered for a place in the ‘reduced provision’.
Given the delay in publishing the list of Key Workers it is increasingly hard to imagine many schools being in a place to provide the reduced offer from Monday. As our guidance advises, what is of critical importance right now is clarity to parents – that the school will close this evening and not reopen on Monday, and that the school will contact parents directly if they are to be offered a place within the reduced provision. Schools will move quickly, but at a pace to avoid chaos and confusion at the school gate.
It is also worth stressing the Government advice contained within their advice this morning that parents should keep their children at home, wherever possible and that they’ve asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
Closure of educational settings - information for parents and carers https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers
Maintaining educational provision https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision
NAHT updated guidance https://www.naht.org.uk/advice-and-support/management/coronavirus-guidance-for-school-leaders/
We will be in further contact today as we find out more information.
First published 20 March 2020