Ignore government guidance and introduce stricter Covid rules at school, teaching unions tell members

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The unions’ advice document, which was sent to their members this week, suggests that bubbles should be reintroduced, saying that schools should take measures to “minimise mixing, for example keeping groups as consistent as possible”.

It adds that teachers “should not routinely be expected to cover for absent colleagues, nor should they be expected to teach pupils who they have not been assigned to teach”.

It advises that break times and lunch, as well as the start and end of the day, should be staggered, and any large in-person gatherings – such as whole school assemblies – should be banned.

“Given the extent of the restrictions they are proposing it is hard to see how this wouldn’t have a major impact on the ability of schools to run extra-curricular activities such as sports, plays, choirs and orchestras,” Ms Cole said.

She added that in practice, staggered break times had previously led to children getting a shorter amount of time to play, or being confined to one small area of the playground.

Education Secretary urged to ‘get a grip’ 

Andrew Brigden, the Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, urged the Education Secretary to “get a grip” on the unions.

“The function of the teaching unions is to represent the interests of teachers – but who is speaking up for the children?” he said. “Nadhim Zahawi needs to get a grip and have a strong word with the unions and remind them that they are working in public service.”

Greg Smith, the Conservative MP for Buckingham, said the union’s advice was “utterly preposterous”.

He added: “We have seen unions throughout the pandemic push and push not to be in the classroom. We have seen the damage that has done to children, not just their education attainment and their learning but actually their mental health.

“I don’t doubt that there is an absolute commitment from the Government to keep schools open – but we are seeing this creep, creep, creep of more restrictions coming in. It just makes me very nervous that we are about to put children through an unnecessary hell.”

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