The Government has been called upon to support schools before they reopen as teachers “moved heaven and earth” during the coronavirus pandemic.
Six trade unions representing education staff across the country have issued a joint call to arms before schools and colleges reopen next week.
They are urging the Government to provide air-cleaning units to every school and college that needs them, to commit to providing schools with more resources if on-site coronavirus testing is needed, and to provide improved financial support to schools and colleges for the costs of supply staff to cover for Covid-related absences.
The unions are also asking for the Government to make it clear that schools and colleges due for an Ofsted inspection in the coming term can have it deferred to allow teachers to focus on supporting pupils.
A statement from ASCL (The Association of School and College Leaders), GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU and Unison said speculation surrounding the Omicron variant has pushed them to act.
The statement said: “As trade unions representing the vast majority of education staff, we wish to emphasise that teachers, leaders and support staff desperately want to be able to conduct face-to-face teaching for all children and young people on a consistent basis and without further interruption caused by the pandemic.
“Education staff have moved heaven and earth to support pupils and students throughout the course of the crisis and they remain committed to providing the best possible support for all children and young people.
“But last term education staff were more likely than other workers to test positive and therefore have to self-isolate, inevitable leading to disruption of education.
“Schools and colleges cannot on their own reduce the threat posed by the virus and they need from the Westminster government more than rhetoric about the importance of education.”
The statement added that teachers and leaders need a minimum amount of educational disruption to avoid a third year where exams are cancelled.
It said: “It is essential therefore that the Government takes immediate and urgent steps to mitigate the risk of Covid transmission and that it provides more support to minimise disruption in schools and colleges.
“As a new year begins, we urge the Government to work more collaboratively and constructively with education workforce representatives to keep schools and colleges open.
“By working side-by-side, we can remove unnecessary burdens and find solutions with government in the interests of all children and young people.”