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NAHT reacts to the government's proposal for track and trace over the festive period

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A message from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman to members

Yesterday we emailed you about the government’s proposals for track and trace over the festive holidays. I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to get in touch with us about this. 

I want to reassure you that we have heard and understood the strength of feeling about this issue among our members. I will be writing to the secretary of state today to give further voice to your frustrations. 

The government’s plan is not something that NAHT has ‘agreed’ or ‘supported’ in any way. We do not want to see school leaders having to support track and trace outside of school hours. I can reassure you that we have made that point repeatedly to the Department for Education. 

In recent weeks, NAHT has been supporting members who have been trying to exercise some flexibility to alleviate some of the pressure at the end of term, including having an inset day on Friday 18 December. Many of these members found themselves faced with the threat of legal action from the government for doing so. For those members, the government’s reversal was important. It is in that sense that some movement was achieved yesterday. For many more, the government’s proposal that schools book an inset day next Friday comes far too late and is completely unhelpful at this stage in the term. 

Members are rightly angry about being asked by the government to do the daily check for notifications at the start of the holiday, and any subsequent follow-up where track and trace is required, with precious little regard to the reality that school leaders are exhausted and in desperate need of a break. 

Throughout the pandemic, the government’s support for your efforts has been so far short of what you needed, it has pushed many of you close to breaking point. Your well-being is critical. Without you, the system comes to a juddering halt. 

Please be assured that when the secretary of state hears from me I will leave him in no doubt about how angry and exhausted you are and that positive interventions are needed. I will also outline how much work he and his team will have to do to repair relations with the profession. We will continue to explore all avenues to bring relief to members, and I will update you further in the coming days.
First published 09 December 2020