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Schools are confident about their plans for September, but concerns remain about test and trace, transport and local lockdowns, says NAHT

With just days to go before the start of the autumn term, school leaders’ union NAHT releases new data that shows schools feel confident about their own arrangements for September but less confident about external factors. 

In a poll of nearly 4,000 school leaders, NAHT asked for levels of confidence in specific areas, including the government’s track and trace programme, transport arrangements for pupils and the extent to which families understand current safety guidance. 

External factors beyond a school’s control were the areas giving leaders the most concern. Where school leaders felt in control of issues, such as what steps to take in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in staff or pupils, they were more confident. 

This follows data published by NAHT this week, which shows that 97 per cent of schools are expecting to welcome back all pupils in full at the start of term. 

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “School leaders and their teams have stuck to the task and are ready for the start of term. 

“These numbers show that school leaders are on top of it when it comes to the arrangements they are making in their schools. Unfortunately, some big areas of concern still remain, which are mainly outside of a school’s control, and they do need to be sorted urgently by whoever is responsible for them. 

“Very clearly, school leaders need more information about the government’s track and trace scheme and what the authorities will expect them to do if there is a local lockdown. School leaders are also worried that public awareness about the return to school could still be low. This could affect the numbers of pupils turning up at the start of term and mean that safety guidelines from the government are still unclear. 

“Schools have done all they can. These figures are a wake-up call to local and national government. They must provide clear guidance, with no more last-minute changes, and a well-communicated and well-understood Plan B in the event of further disruption in the autumn term.” 

External factors 

In the survey, only 7 per cent of school leaders said they were confident in the government’s Track, Trace and Isolate scheme. 68 per cent were not confident. 

Only 18 per cent were confident in the arrangements for a lockdown in their area. 42 per cent were not confident. 

21 per cent of school leaders were not confident in the transport arrangements for getting pupils to and from school safely, rising to 35 per cent if we include those who felt they did not have enough information to express an opinion. 

Only 30 per cent were confident that pupils and parents understand the government's safety guidance. 

41 per cent said that they were confident in the responsiveness of local public health teams. 18 per cent were not confident. 

Internal factors 

85 per cent of school leaders were confident that they and their staff were aware of how to access coronavirus testing if needed. 

83 per cent said they were confident that they understood what steps to take in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in staff or pupils. 

76 per cent said that they were confident about who makes the decision to close their school. Only 4 per cent were not confident about this at all.

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363


Email :
press.office@naht.org.uk