Teachers' scorn over plan to cancel 18th Dec classes

Critics say a short-notice Inset day – under the DfE's new end-of-term plan – would make the training 'redundant'
9th December 2020, 1:03pm
Amy Gibbons

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Teachers' scorn over plan to cancel 18th Dec classes

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/teachers-scorn-over-plan-cancel-18th-dec-classes
Coronavirus: Teachers Have Branded A Dfe Plan To Hold An Inset Day On The Final Friday Of The School Term 'ridiculous'

Teachers have lashed out at a government decision to allow an Inset day on the last Friday of term - arguing that the gesture is "pointless" and "tokenistic".

Yesterday schools minister Nick Gibb announced that schools can move an Inset day originally scheduled for 2021 to Friday 18 December, to ensure that staff get a "proper break" over Christmas.

If schools take up the Department for Education's offer of finishing term a day early, it would allow teachers and heads to stop Covid contact tracing before Christmas Eve.

This is because by then they would have already had the "clear six days" after the end of term for contact tracing required by Public Health England, if lessons stopped on 17 December.   


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But teachers and leaders have argued that planning an Inset day at short notice would make the training "redundant and defunct", and only add to workload at the end of term.

Staff have also taken issue with the fact that they will be expected to engage in track and trace up until 23 December and sacrifice an Inset day next year.

Coronavirus: 'Ridiculous' end-of-term Inset day offer

Responding to the announcement from Mr Gibb, headteacher Sam Strickland said: "The point being missed is that schools can decide whenever they have/want an Inset day. This isn't news.

"Organising one last-minute, however, makes the day redundant and defunct, given the level of planning required to make them effective."

The point being missed is that schools can decide whenever they have / want an INSET day. This isn't news.

Organising one last minute, however, makes the day redundant and defunct given the level of planning required to make them effective.

- Sam Strickland (@Strickomaster) December 8, 2020

Teacher Simon Cattermole asked: "Do you know how much prep needs to be done to organise a worthwhile day of professional development? I don't think you do..."

Twitter user Mrs Cates pointed out that "valuable Inset cannot be magicked out of thin air", while one headteacher said simply: "What a ridiculous, last-minute, too-late-to-organise, offer."

The lack of sense in this statement is staggering. 1) schools have already planned for the end of term and communicated said plan with parents and carers. 2) Valuable INSET cannot be magicked out of thin air. 3) 6 days is still less than the incubation period of the virus. https://t.co/REriDUkDdE

- Mrs Cates (@MrsHCates) December 8, 2020

Sarah Field added: "Inset days are valuable training opportunities for staff, and are often planned well ahead of time to suit the requirements of the school. They cannot and should not be moved at a week's notice."

And Trudi Wint called the announcement "back-of-an-envelope governance", warning that "schools will have to forgo a training day next year".

INSET days are valuable training opportunities for staff, and are often planned well ahead of time to suit the requirements of the school. They cannot and should not be moved at a weeks notice.

- Sarah Field (@DrSarahLField) December 8, 2020

Melodie Harmer also raised concerns about the additional workload associated with planning for a last-minute Inset day.

"So we can spend the first week of our holiday track and tracing but ensure Christmas Eve is actual holiday," she said. 

"The additional work involved in the organisation of this, with such little notice, was just what I was missing from my end of term. Thanks."

And headteacher Steven Miles said the offer was a "tokenistic gesture" and "pointless intervention".

This tokenistic gesture pretty much amounts to @educationgovuk staging a pointless intervention for schools so that they can say to anyone who complains that they've supported teachers like never before so what more do they want?! Sigh.

- Steven Miles (@milessteven001) December 8, 2020

 

What was in yesterday's announcement?

The DfE has suggested that schools make Friday 18 December a non-teaching day and instead use it for staff training, which could be delivered online.

However, the department has also said that schools will need to make up the teaching time in the new year and that they should not limit attendance in schools before Friday 18 December.

The plans for 18 December are important because Public Health England has agreed a six-day window after the final day of teaching in which schools and colleges are expected to make staff available to help with contact tracing for Covid-19 cases.

A DfE email to schools said that this would allow enough time for positive coronavirus cases to be identified and confirmed by a test and for relevant contacts in the school to be traced.

This means that if schools finish teaching on 17 December, no Covid contact tracing will be expected of school staff after 23 December.

The department has also told schools that the amount of tracing they will have to do in those six days is expected to drop over time as "the majority of cases should be identified earlier in the week".

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