Working from Home

Can I be made to return to teaching on site if I have an underlying health condition?

The DfE states that staff who are classed as Clinically Vulnerable should work from home where possible. Where an individual is required to be in the workplace the school should discuss this and hear your concerns.  A written record of the discussion should be kept. A risk assessment to address your needs should be put in place. 

It may be that the school feel that they are unable to support working from home arrangements for particular roles or individuals.  If this is the case, you should ask for the reasons why, and a copy of all documentation supporting their case for why they are unable to support working from home.  

Schools have the discretion to place staff who feel that the risk to them is unacceptable on Authorised Paid Leave, if no other arrangement can be made. This should  not be treated as sick leave.

My school are expecting me to teach a full timetable online, I don’t feel confident with the technology that I’m being asked to use to deliver remote learning, and I’m feeling overwhelmed do I have to do it?

It is not unreasonable for teachers, if they are asked, to provide where there are facilities to do so work for pupils to do during the closure or provide remote/or online learning support. However, schools should not be imposing increased workload burdens on teachers for them to produce this work. 

Teachers of practical subjects may find it particularly difficult to set work as it may well require the production of a whole new set of resources for independent study, with limited materials and equipment in a home setting. Preparing these materials is workload intensive, particularly for practical subjects where there are fewer resources readily available in textbooks and online. This should be taken into account when remote provision is being planned.

Whilst technology such as video conferencing may be part of remote learning proposals, not all pupils or teachers will have the facilities to at home to work in this way. There is no requirement for members to be set up or have the expertise to offer remote tuition.

It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that staff have the necessary resources and support to be able to work remotely. They are responsible for the health, safety and safeguarding or those employees who are now working from home.  

NSEAD reminds employers that  there should not be an automatic assumption that staff have the resources or skills to support online learning. Anything over and above normal duties, e.g. preparing home packs, is voluntary in nature and teachers cannot be instructed to prepare these without agreement and without time being identified to do so.

My line manager has asked me to track which students are accessing our online resources and to contact parents if they aren’t doing the work. Should I be doing this?

There are no circumstances where it is appropriate for teachers to be making direct contact with students at home, whether to support home learning or otherwise.  Contact with parents really comes under the policy set by your school, under normal circumstances. However, we do not feel that it is appropriate for staff to be making multiple communications with parents at a time when families are feeling overwhelmed by the demands of home-schooling, and the impact of restrictions on their families.  

It is up to school management to co-ordinate communications with parents so that there is one clear communique from the school, and it is for the school to make sure that parents understand what to expect.  

We are also clear that is neither possible, nor desirable to try to replicate curriculum coverage, contact time, assessment and feedback as normal. 

I’m working from home - but so are my children! I’m really struggling to take care of them and manage the timetable I’ve been given, what can I do?

We would expect employers to consider staff circumstances on a case by case basis and to negotiate with them accordingly.

Teachers with caring responsibilities may not have access to alternative childcare due to forced closure of other facilities. We hope that  schools and colleges will support their staff and negotiate a reduced or flexible workload.

Vulnerable category

Will I be paid as normal if I am sent home?

Yes, if you are not sick, and you are available to work from home.

I’m 30 weeks pregnant and my school have said I should start my maternity leave. Can’t I work from home until I had planned to start my leave?

You should be paid as normal, and treated in the same way as those in vulnerable category. You should not start your maternity leave early, and your rights as a pregnant worker remain.

What happens if I have to self isolate because I have coronavirus and I’m unable to work. Will I get paid?

If you are unwell and unable to work, you will be recorded as absent for the period of your illness and entitled to sick pay under the usual terms of your contract.

What if a member of my family has symptoms and I have to self isolate?

If you are able to work from home, you should continue to work on full pay. 

If you have to care for a dependent, also self isolating within your household, and so are unable to work, you should discuss this with your employer.

In normal circumstances, your employer must allow you time off to care for dependents in an emergency. They are not obliged to pay you, unless your contract specifically states it. However, NSEAD would hope that employers will deal with staff on a case by case basis and be as flexible as possible.

What counts as an underlying condition?

The UK Government have published a list 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

This group includes those who are:

I live with someone who has an underlying health condition and I’ve been put on a rota to provide support in school, what can I do?

The Uk Government has issued guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

If you have a vulnerable person living with you, you will need to take extra measures in the home to minimise the risk of contagion. According to current Government advice, you may reasonably be expected to attend work as directed to attend work as directed by your employer. We would advise you to talk to your employer about your concerns, and ask for confirmation that the necessary hygiene and social distancing measures will be followed on site.

NSEAD urges schools to do all that they can to ensure the safety and well being of those staff who are manning Key worker support rotas, and those pupils still attending school. 

I’m categorised as being in a vulnerable category and was sent home before the school closed. I feel fine, and could work from home, like my colleagues, but have been told I will be recorded as ‘sick’. Is this right?

No, you should be treated as being available for work and paid at your usual rate. If you work in an independent school, your employer may put you on furlough under the job retention scheme (subject to meeting the necessary conditions, see below).

Working on site

Is there any subject specific guidance to help me organise practical activities in school that follow social distancing?

NSEAD are working to produce general guidance to support teachers as they adapt their practical classrooms to a new way of teaching during Covid-19 restrictions. We recommend that teachers refer to CLEAPSS Guidance GL344 Guide to doing practical work in a partially reopened school - D&T, food and Art V1.3. Also CLEAPSS GL340 - Guidance on support from schools during the Coronavirus period - ver.2.0.

CLEAPSS Guidance GL344 Guide to doing practical work in a partially reopened school - D&T, food and Art V1.3.

CLEAPSS GL340 - Guidance on support from schools during the Coronavirus period - ver.2.0.

 

see our Health and Safety section for member resources.

I’m working in school. Should the school provide hand sanitiser and personal protective equipment?

Schools/colleges must ensure that they continue to meet high standards of hygiene and cleanliness during the period of coronavirus to minimise the risks to the health of employees, pupils and the public.

The Government's advice on cleaning and disinfecting of areas must be followed at all times. Our advice to members is to ask your school management and governors to confirm the arrangements to safeguard the health of all those required to be onsite. Specifically, how will they:

  • enforce social distancing actions within the school, including 2m distance between individuals
  • provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff working onsite
  • providing surgical quality face masks for pupils
  • maintain the most stringent standards of hygiene - extent and frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, availability of hand sanitizer, etc
Can I be asked to go in and provide emergency cover over the Easter holidays?

In these unprecedented times when formal education has ended and been replaced by care provision and while there is intense pressure on the NHS, it is the fact that the Government will be seeking to ensure that there is provision for these children over weekends and during the Easter holidays.

NSEAD hopes that schools will consult with staff and seek volunteers. A rota of volunteers should be drawn up and schools should have systems in place so that they can pay volunteers.

I have young children and no childcare but have been put on the rota to go into school, what should I do?

Members should discuss the situation with their employer. NSEAD encourages employers to provide additional flexibility to support individuals who have childcare difficulties.

The Government has included teachers in the definition of key workers and therefore they have access to the support other key workers are being provided with.

Independent schools

I’m working in an independent school, my headteacher has suggested that I might be put on furlough.  Can they do this, and how will it affect me?

Generally, yes, but it does depend on how the school or provision at the school is normally funded.

Some independent schools may be in receipt of public funding for some/all of their provision, including specifically to provide services necessary to respond to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) emergency.

Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, the Government expects that independent schools use that money to continue to pay staff in the normal way and, in this case, should not furlough staff.

Schools seeking to place staff on furlough should be able to demonstrate that there is a business interruption as a direct result of the COVID-19 emergency, which threatens both their ability to pay staff, and a reduction in the work that staff are required to do.

If there is no change to their funding situation, they should not be seeking to furlough staff or cover costs from the Job Retention Scheme.

If I am put on furlough, what are my rights? Can I be made redundant?

If you have been furloughed, your employer should be applying for funding from the Job Retention Scheme.

The UK Government will then pay the employer 80% of the employee’s salary up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Your employer should then pay the difference so that you continue to receive 100% of your salary.

You have a statutory entitlement to receive your full salary.

If you have been furloughed, your employer will receive 80% of your salary (up to a cap of £2,500) from the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. Your employer should make up the difference to 100%, together with payment of National Insurance Contributions and employer pension contributions.

The Scheme is intended to avoid redundancies by alleviating the pressure on employers to continue paying wages in full during the crisis period. If the employer is saying that they will only pay 10% to you on top of what they will receive from the Government, they are in effect seeking to vary your contract. It is, therefore, essential that you make clear in writing to your employer that you do not accept this variation to your contract.

If your employer seeks to compel you to accept less than your full salary entitlement, then you must write to the employer stating that you are receiving the reduced salary under protest and that you reserve the right, at the appropriate time, to pursue all legal remedies available to you to recover the deducted salary. 

Can I be asked to work whilst on furlough?

No, A requirement of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme is that where an employee has been furloughed, they cannot be available for work and therefore you cannot be working, so an employer cannot ask a furloughed worker to carry on working.

Being furloughed is not the same as teachers being asked to work from home because schools have been repurposed to provide care.

Supply teachers and freelance workers

I work on a supply contract for an agency, how will my pay be affected?

The Government has introduced emergency legislation and measures in the 2020 Budget to provide for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to be made available from day one to anyone advised to self-isolate, even if they do not have the symptoms. This includes supply teachers as agency workers.

The Government has also made it easier for those who do not qualify for SSP to claim benefits, such as Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

The Government has removed the four-day qualifying period so this can be claimed from the first day of absence due to self-isolation.

Supply teachers may also be able to claim Universal Credit or contributory Employment and Support Allowance. 

Supply teaching agencies are eligible to apply for the job retention scheme 

I run workshops for primary schools on a freelance basis. All of my bookings have been cancelled -  am I entitled to any pay?

Many of our members providing contracted services to educational settings have been hit particularly hard by the closure of schools and other settings. The Chancellor has announced measures to support those who depend on self employed and freelance income.

Self employed workers will be able to apply for a taxable grant of up to £2500 a month, however it will not begin to arrive until June at the earliest. The grant will be for 80% of average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2500. Where freelance and self employed earnings do not go back that far, mechanisms to calculate average earnings are still being investigated, they are not covered under this scheme.

There are remaining concerns for these workers and how they will manage until grants become available, with eligibility for universal credit not applicable to all.  Specifically, those who have a part-time PAYE contract are not eligible for lost income from their self-employed work. Also those who have savings over £16,000 that may be set aside to cover tax bills and business liabilities cannot apply.

Trainee teachers and NQTs

I’m studying a PGCE and haven’t finished my school placement -  what will this mean for my QTS?

The Welsh Government has introduced arrangements that would allow institutions training teachers from now on to determine that trainees have completed their programmes successfully and to be accredited accordingly. Comparable relaxations to requirements have been announced in England and Scotland

As a result of school closures, Trainee teachers are unlikely to have completed the necessary number of school based hours to qualify for QTS.  Whilst different the UK Government has issued a statement to initial teacher education partnerships advising that the result, the DfE will enable providers to make judgements on trainees “based on assessments already completed and each trainee’s current trajectory of progress towards meeting the teachers’ standards”. 

Key points in the statement are:

  • ITE requirements in respect of time spent in school and number and location of placements are suspended.
  • ITE programmes can continue through on-line learning , the setting of assignments to be completed at home and in other ways that providers think appropriate.
  • Where at the end of the programme students are judged by the provider to be on a trajectory towards meeting the teacher standards they can, on normal timescales, be recommended for the award of QTS.
  • Arrangments for students who could clearly not be judged to be on a trajectory towards QTS at the end of their programmes will be announced in due course, along with details of any financial provision.
  • Additional support for next year’s NQTs who are awarded QTS will also be announced in due course.
  • ITE providers can continue to recruit students for 2020/21, using Skype or other on- line mechanisms for the conducting of interviews, and the checking of documents.
  • Normal timescales for Rejection by Default and Declined by Default have been suspended
  • Detailed Q&A from DfE will follow, as will updated ITE criteria
I am an NQT - will I be able to complete my probation this year?

Some local authorities in England have decided to use the flexibility permitted by the induction regulations and statutory guidance to allow NQTs to be deemed to have passed their induction at the end of the spring term. 

We hope that requirements for the completion of induction will follow announcements from Scotland and Wales, and be relaxed. We will update when we have more information. 

Arrangements for Centre Assessments

Will there be any external moderator visits?

You are being trusted, as a professional, to make a ‘best assessment judgement’ . This is up to you to make the decision, based on your experience, using what you know about your students - what they have done, and what you believe they would have gone on to do.  The responsibility lies with you to be professional, honest and do your best under the circumstances. There will be no standardisation, internal moderation or external moderation.

What about year 10s who are being entered early?

A decision had not been made, but Ofqual are advising that exam boards do not issue grades to year 10 students. 

We propose that exam boards should not issue grades to year 10 students (or lower year groups) as their progression will not be hindered if they do not receive a grade in summer 2020. We will consult on this proposal very shortly, and a final decision will be made before any data will need to be submitted. 

What do the exam boards need?

You will make a judgement for each student of the grade they were most likely to achieve if they had completed the course. You will provide a rank order for students within each grade, from most to least secure, in your judgement. 

  • a centre assessment grade for each student – the judgement submitted to the exam board by the Head of Centre about the grade that each student is most likely to have achieved if they had sat their exams. This professional judgement is derived from evidence held within the centre and which has been reviewed by subject teachers and relevant heads of department 
  • the rank order of students within each grade – for example, for all those students with a grade of 5 in GCSE maths, or a grade B in A level biology, a rank order where 1 is the most secure/highest attaining student, and so on 
How do I make a grade judgement?

Balancing different sources of evidence, consider each student’s performance across the course of study. Ofqual say:

We want heads of department and teachers to consider each student’s performance over the course of study and make a realistic judgement of the grade each student would have been most likely to get if they had taken their exam(s) in a subject and completed any non-exam assessment this summer. This could include U (ungraded). This should be a holistic professional judgement, balancing the different sources of evidence.

What kind of evidence should I look at?

Any relevant information which could include:

  • records of each student’s performance over the course of study, including for example progress review data, classwork, sketchbooks, portfolios.
  • performance on any non-exam assessment (NEA), even if this has not been fully completed
  • for re-sitting students, any information about previous grades achieved or NEA marks that would, under normal circumstances, have been carried forward
  • performance on any class or homework assessments and mock exams taken over the course of study
  • the performance of this year’s students compared to those in previous years
  • for A level students who took AS in 2019, their AS results in that subject
  • the performance of this year’s students compared to those in previous years
Do I need to get them to finish their exam prep and use that as their assessed grade?

No. Ofqual are very clear:

You should not ask students to complete their NEA work and you do not need to submit marks for any completed NEA. But you will need to bear in mind that many students achieve a higher grade on their NEA than in their exams, so you should not base your judgment on NEA alone. You should balance it with your judgement about their likely performance in the written paper(s), where appropriate. In case students decide that they want to enter in a subsequent exam series, you should retain any NEA work completed to date 

It is so unfair, should I take into account the fact that it is harder for these students this year?

Ofqual asks you to assume that it is no easier or harder for a student to achieve a particular grade this year, compared to previous years.  Many centres had collected work from students at different points of completion before schools closed, others have been collecting work digitally that students have been set after the school closures. This is an uneven situation, which is why you are asked to look back over the full course of study and make a judgement about what each student was most likely to have done if they had completed the course. In that way, you can attempt to be fair to all students, not just those who were able to hand work in, or have resources at home, post school closures. Ofqual says: 

Given the timing of the announcement, we recognise that centres will have incomplete evidence, and that the range and amount of evidence will vary between different subjects. Judgements should be made on the evidence that is available.  

My students are all making great work at home, it isn’t fair that we can’t get them to finish it off. There are always some students who are disadvantaged, why should this be any different?

Those students who are traditionally most disadvantaged by the system will be hit even harder by the impact of these extraordinary circumstances. We have a duty as educators to do everything not to make the equality gap any wider. Ofqual says:

There is no requirement to set additional mock exams or homework tasks for the purposes of determining a centre assessment grade and no student should be disadvantaged if they are unable to complete any work set after schools were closed. Where additional work has been completed after schools and colleges were closed on 20 March, Heads of Centre should exercise caution where that evidence suggests a change in performance. In many cases this is likely to reflect the circumstances and context in which the work is done. NSEAD advises teachers to consider carefully whether to include work made at home in their judgements.

What evidence do I need to support my judgements?

There will be no requirement to send any supporting evidence, such as student work, to the exam boards, but centres should retain records of this, in case exam boards have any queries about the data. For Art, this means student portfolios, along with assessment records, tracking and progress data.  There should be no need to add to this, and it should already be stored in your centre. Where you are taking into account work produced after the 20th March, you will be responsible for collecting this work digitally.

They all have target grades, shall I submit those as their centre assessed grade?

No, they may have been set at a higher, motivational level.

I have recent ‘working at grades’ for all students, can I use those?

No, you need to consider what they might have gone onto achieve if they had completed the course and examination, based on their expected performance.

We gave predicted grades to UCAS, are they what I use for my A level students?

You should consider the predicted grades as part of your judgement, alongside other evidence of performance.

I’m used to setting rank order, as we always do this in Art and Design. Is the process different?

It is essentially the same, and Art and Design teachers will be more comfortable with the process. Ofqual give guidance for centres here.

We have more than one GCSE group, taught by more than one teacher, how do we agree a rank order?

Those teachers will need to work together to agree to the centre assessments, ensuring that you are looking at the same kinds of evidence and applying the assessment criteria consistently. Ofqual says:

We recognise that this will be challenging. There are a number of ways in which this could be done, including for example, for each teacher initially to grade and rank order their students; discuss and compare the qualities of students at the top and bottom of the rank order within each grade to ensure that a consistent standard is being applied; adjust the grades accordingly; and then integrate the rank orders by discussing individual students beginning at the top of the rank order and working down.

How will the exam boards make sure that assessments are accurate without external moderation?

The Exam boards, using a model developed with Ofqual, will use a statistical model to standardise grades across centres in each subject. It will compare your centre assessment grades with the following:

  • expected grade distributions at national level  
  • results in previous years at individual centre level  
  • the prior attainment profile of students at centre level  

 

Where your assessments appear to be too generous, or severe, and adjustment will be made. The rank order you set will not be changed. Ofqual says:

We will do this to align the judgements across centres, so that, as far as possible, your students are not unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged this summer. This means that the centre assessment grades you submit and the final grade that students receive could be different.  

What about special considerations?

They will not apply. Ofqual says:

Special consideration requests, in the event that a student is unable to take an assessment or suffers a traumatic event that might affect their performance, will not apply this summer. Instead judgements should reflect how the students would have performed under ordinary circumstances. Where illness or other personal circumstances might have affected performance in mock exams, centres should bear that in mind when making their judgements. 

What about appeals?

The normal arrangements for reviews of marking and appeals will not apply. Ofqual says:

Centres must not, under any circumstances, share the centre assessment grades nor the rank order of students with students, or their parents/carers or any other individuals outside the centre, before final results have been issued. This is to protect the integrity of teachers’ judgements, and to avoid teachers, heads of department, senior leaders or Heads of Centre being put under pressure by students and parents, to submit a grade that is not supported by the evidence. Since the final grades for some or all students in a centre could be different from those submitted, it also helps to manage students’ expectations

There will be opportunity for students who wish to improve their grades to take their exams in the Autumn.  There are no further details about that at this stage.

When do we have to complete our assessments?

Submission of centre assessments: 

no earlier than 29 May and that centres will have a window of at least two weeks in which to submit the data.

I teach in Wales, are arrangements different there?

Arrangements are the same in Wales, but there are no plans for students to be able to take exams in the Autumn. Qualifications Wales says:

It is not our intention for learners in Wales to sit their GCSEs and A levels when schools return in the autumn. Instead they will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work.

 

The deadline for submission of the data will be no earlier than 29 May 2020, and the actual date for submission will be communicated by WJEC as part of the detailed instructions they will issue.

Are the arrangements different in Scotland?

Arrangements in Scotland are for teachers and lecturers to submit estimated grades based on holistic assessment. SQA have published detailed guidance for teachers about the evidence to be used to inform certification for the full range of qualifications. SQA have said: 

For this session, teachers and lecturers should continue to exercise their professional judgement and estimate a learner’s grade and band based on their demonstrated and inferred attainment of the required skills, knowledge and understanding for each National Course. 

What about Northern Ireland?

Information will be announced on the NI Department of Education website: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/