DfE 'puts full attendance above teacher safety rotas'

Draft plans for September openings reportedly say students may have to drop some GCSEs to catch up in core subjects

Amy Gibbons

Coronavirus schools

Headteachers are to be told to prioritise full pupil attendance over staff safety rotas and social distancing, under draft plans for school reopenings in September reported today.

The plans also include advice for teachers to keep 2m away from pupils, and the suggestion that some children may have to drop a selection of GCSEs altogether in order to catch up in core subjects.


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The plans, outlined today in the Huffington Post, cover everything from social distancing, to seating plans, attendance fines, suspended inspections and curriculum expectations.

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But among the 16 planned measures, it is a requirement already being interpreted as a problem for vulnerable teachers that is attracting particular criticism within the profession. 

The guidance for September openings, which the DfE has yet to confirm, reportedly says that heads will be "told not to put in any staff rota or physical distancing that would require extra space or make it impossible for all pupils to return full-time".

Commenting on this specific point in the published leaked guidance, Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said: “If the requirement is going to be that clinically vulnerable teachers or those living with clinically vulnerable relatives are going to be in school for 6.5 to 7 hours a day with no PPE [personal protective equipment] and no social distancing then the government is going to have to take responsibility for the potential consequences of that.”

Tes understands that the plans, expected to be announced on Thursday, are still at the draft stage and could yet be altered following consultation with teaching unions.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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