Teachers should be prioritised for purchasing petrol during the fuel crisis so they can get to school and avoid disruption to the education system, teachers' leaders have said.
Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said that the ongoing fuel crisis would cause "serious difficulties" in education.
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“Despite government assurances to the contrary, the continuing impact of shortages on fuel station forecourts is expected to cause serious difficulties for the provision of education," he said.
“Following many months of disruption, it is now of the utmost priority that the government takes steps to ensure that schools and colleges remain open and that teachers and education support staff are able to get to work."
Dr Roach added that for many teachers it would not be possible to use public transport as they worked in schools that were only easily accessible by car.
“The government must urgently consider making teachers a priority group for access to locally available petrol and diesel fuel supplies," he said.
“Without such intervention, many teachers will struggle to get to their places of work on time, adding to the daily uncertainty and disruption faced by children and young people.”
Speaking on BBC's Today, Mike Grannatt, former head of civil contingencies at the Cabinet Office during the fuel crisis at the turn of the millennium, said: "When we started to prioritise people we ended up prioritising a third of the economy, and it didn't even work then because there are knock-on effects you don't realise.
"Hospitals found themselves short of staff not because their staff didn't have priority because they did but because schoolteachers hadn't been given priority - they couldn't get to work, schools shut, working mothers, working dads who had to deal with childcare had to stay at home.
"So when you start to limit it to various people you have to think about a very complex system which is today's society."
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “So far, we are not hearing that fuel supply issues are causing major problems for schools, but if shortages go on much longer it is possible that children and teachers could find themselves unable to get to school – there could be problems with transport for special schools in particular.
“The last thing children need is further disruption to education given the experience of the last 18 months.
"Prioritising key workers is not a sensible solution as it would be impossible to enforce and could cause more chaos on the forecourts.
"The only real answer is for the government to do everything in its power to get fuel to pumps and bring this situation to an end.
“Schools will of course do everything in their power to minimise any disruption to education as the week goes on. But the government does need to get a proper plan in place to get deliveries moving.”
A government spokesperson said: “The best place for children and young people to be is in school with their teachers and friends. We are aware that some petrol stations have had to temporarily close in response to localised spikes in demand but this is not in response to a national shortage, as there is plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals.
“The government recently announced a package of measures announced to help ease temporary supply chain pressures including an immediate increase in HGV testing, short term visas for HGV drivers and new skills bootcamps to train up to 3,000 more people to become HGV drivers.
“The government will continue to monitor the situation and work with industry to minimise disruption to UK motorists.”