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My meeting with the Secretary of State

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A message from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman to members

An update following my meeting with the secretary of state.

This afternoon I met with the Secretary of State for Education, alongside colleagues from ASCL and the NEU. Other organisations were represented including Public Health England. 

I am pleased to say that we had an open and constructive conversation.

During the meeting, I had the opportunity to put many of your questions directly to him and his team. I am pleased to be able to report that there was a real willingness to take these on board.

Our top priority in the meeting today was to emphasise the need for schools to have clearer guidance on how to keep staff and pupils safe. I know how urgent an issue this is for you. 

I made the point that the current guidance is inadequate and that we need more detailed information designed specifically for schools and education settings. 

I am pleased to report that the DfE has agreed to publish further guidance and we expect to see some of that coming through later this evening or possibly tomorrow. Critically, this advice will be informed by experts from Public Health England, which I hope will be of interest and use to colleagues in Northern Ireland and Wales too.

I hope this will be a positive step in the right direction. The new guidance will not be perfect and I’m sure there will still be questions about this issue that we need to seek answers to, but I am pleased that the DfE has responded to our direct request and will continue to develop and improve the guidance as issues arise. 

There is still much to do and we will continue to work with the DfE to address the wide range of issues that you are currently facing.  

Best wishes

Paul Whiteman

First published 24 March 2020