Boss of UK’s largest teacher union tells 460,000 members to refuse to even talk about going back to class – The Sun

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Almost half a million teachers have been asked to refuse to even talk about the start of the school year next month by the boss of the UK’s largest teachers union.

Boris Johnson wants schools to reopen on June 1 with social distancing measures in place – but there are fears among unions that this may be impossible to maintain.

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    Union bosses warned it would be
Union bosses warned it would be “impossible” to prepare schools for reopening on June 1Credit: Alamy
    NEU boss Kevin Courtney urged 460,000 union members not to talk about returning to work3
NEU boss Kevin Courtney urged 460,000 union members not to talk about returning to workCredit: Alamy Live News
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Now the head of the National Education Union (NEU) – the UK’s largest teacher union after joining the National Union of Teachers (NUT) – has urged 461,960 members not to commit to the plans until that the government has issued more advice.

Assistant Secretary General Kevin Courtney tweeted today: “Education unions plan to work together.

“Don’t commit to planning a June 1 return to a larger opening – wait for more union advice. “

Some public school staff and occasional teachers are currently receiving their full salaries after schools have been ordered to lock up to prevent the spread of the virus.

The prime minister said first and sixth grade students could resume their studies starting next month as he established his “roadmap” outside of strict measures.

But a number of union leaders have expressed concern that it may not be too early to reopen, as social separation will be difficult for young children.

Paul Whiteman, secretary general of the National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT), told the Special Committee on Education today: “If social distance is such that we understand it now – the two-meter rule to apply in schools – there are very many schools that say it is simply impossible to achieve. “

He said it would be particularly difficult to ensure that young students stay at least two meters from each other and their teachers and practice good hygiene, such as hand washing.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Education released guidelines on how schools should apply social distancing, including limiting class sizes to 15 students.

Schools are encouraged to stagger lunch and break times, as well as return and pick-up times, to reduce the number of students traveling at the same time.

He also said schools should consider introducing a one-way system in the hallways or placing a separator in the middle to control the flow of children.

Ministers admitted last night that they could not keep children two meters apart from each other all day long, so each class will form a self-contained “bubble” so as not to mix with other children in schools .

Boris Johnson said at the Sunday evening reception that first and sixth grade students would be the first students to return in June.

But the Prime Minister faces a revolt from the education unions who demanded more clarity on how schools can realistically ensure the safety of students and staff.

Whiteman said, “Social distance is a huge problem. “

But Whiteman said that even with only 15 students – it would be difficult to have social distance in the classroom.

He said, “Our members tell us that the average size of their buildings could only accommodate classes 10 to 12, instead of 15.

“So, we immediately run into real practical difficulties in knowing whether the government’s ambition can be concretely satisfied.

“Not to mention all the fears of parents bringing their children back to school, and the fears of the workforce as well. “

He told MEPs that “there is not enough understanding of the science” to give parents confidence that children can return to school safely.

If the social distance is such that we understand it now – the two-meter rule to be applied in schools – there are very many schools which say that it is simply impossible to achieve.

No10 said yesterday that children would not be fined if they chose to keep their children at home for safety reasons.

The Director of Children’s Services (ADCS), Jenny Coles, said schools will have at least five or six weeks to prepare for the safe return of the children behind the desks.

She told the Committee, “To get this trust from parents, in terms of gradual return to school, it will take a lot of work from the central government, local communities and local authorities.

“It will not be something that will be resolved by June 1. It will take a lot of weeks and a lot of work to do it. “

Unison’s director of education, who represents school support staff, Jon Richards, also told his members not to make plans until there is a joint plan between the unions.

A NEU survey suggests that a third of parents do not immediately plan to send their children back to school after the lockdowns are relaxed.

The survey, of 1,000 parents, found that almost half (49%) said they would send their children back to school as soon as it reopened, but 33% said they planned to delay return.

The health secretary said this morning that it was “completely natural” for parents to worry about sending their children back to school.

He told ITV, “The reason we said what we have is actually because home schooling and TV for kids five and six, in first grade and at reception, are a lot more difficult.

“We want to make sure that education is interrupted as little as possible. In addition, child care is much more difficult if you have a five-year-old, six-year-old child or a preschooler.

    Paul Whiteman said distance from MPs in schools would be a challenge

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Paul Whiteman said social distancing of MPs from schools would be a challengeCredit: Twitter / @ PaulWhiteman6

The head of the National Association of Principals, Paul Whiteman, said it would be “impossible” for many schools to return on June 1.

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