Partial reopening of schools
NSEAD members want to return to their art classrooms as soon as possible. Pupils need the art, craft and design equipment and materials and teaching that they can only get in a classroom environment. But this can only happen when we are fully confident that allowing our children to return to school is safe - for everybody.
During this time, NSEAD has been working with an alliance of Education Trade Unions, calling for the safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle. We called on the government to step back from the 1st June as a fixed date for relaxing school closures, and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out. We have made it clear that the best way to do this is through a national taskforce for safe schools, with government, unions and education stakeholders.
Our letter to headteachers sets out our support for our members and I would urge all NSEAD Trade Union members to download it here and send it to your headteacher.
NSEAD is fully committed to getting pupils back to their art rooms – but for the sake of our children, our members and our communities this can only happen when it is safe to do so.
See the principles and tests for safe return, agreed by the alliance of unions here: https://www.nsead.org/coronavirus/daily-updates/
Managing remote learning
NSEAD has been clear that we expect teachers and students to be treated with care and flexibility as schools adapt to an entirely new approach to teaching and learning, with teachers, students, parents and carers working from home. Expectations that an equivalent, fully realised level of curriculum provision, assessment and feedback can be established at speed are entirely unrealistic, and put staff, students and families under unacceptable pressure.
Parents and carers do not all have the resources to supervise and support home learning, pupils do not have equal access to resources, equipment or internet in their own homes. Teachers have distinctive pressures of their own - whether caring responsibilities, health concerns as well as skills and capacity to deliver a new educational model, without the time and training ideally required.
This must be recognised, and arrangements during the Coronavirus restrictions must reflect this. We know that our members want to do the best that they can, that they want to maintain high standards and to ensure that their pupils do not suffer from the limiting of creative learning. We believe that our subject is vital to health and well being - now is the time it is surely needed most. But, NSEAD asks, that teachers are allowed the time needed to pause, to be kind to themselves, so that they can best serve their pupils.
Our expectation for our members is as follows:
- During these exceptional times, the formal curriculum has been dis-applied Examinations for the summer series have been cancelled. There is no expectation by the DFE, the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government or the Northern Ireland Education Authority that schools operate a full timetable, or full national curriculum coverage
- Where teachers are asked to share planning and resources with line managers and teams, this should be for joint planning purposes as a professional dialogue reflecting on the effectiveness of planned activities.Teachers should not be asked to provide this information as additional documentation, it should be part scheduled discussions between teachers and line managers. These discussions should not form part of any appraisal, performance management or capability plans (formal or informal).
- ’Virtual learning walks’ are not appropriate. Nor should online learning be recorded for monitoring or management purposes. This amounts to unacceptable pressure at this time.
- Whole school systems for assessment tracking and targets are not appropriate. Teachers should not be asked to report on progress towards existing targets. The focus of assessment activity when online systems are used should be on formative assessment and providing feedback to pupils to inform learning.
- Schools are establishing a range of virtual curriculum models. NSEAD agrees with a number of school leaders who are working to provide between 2-3 hours of structured learning for pupils.This may be higher for KS4 and KS5, but the emphasis should be on revision rather than new learning. For art and design that may mean the setting of exercises to consolidate and refine skills rather than researching and developing new work.
- Teachers’ professional, subject specialist judgements should be trusted. What work to set, how to assess it and how to give feedback should be guided by teachers. They are best placed to know what their students need as well as what is reasonable to deliver. The approaches adopted should follow the core principle of supporting effective teaching, they should be manageable, and adapted to allow for current circumstances. Giving the same level of feedback via email or other means as in a normal classroom lesson should not be expected. NSEAD asks that schools communicate a clear policy to parents and carers, and manage expectations.
- We agree with our colleagues in the general teaching unions on internal school assessment activities related to qualifications or, where applicable, statutory assessments should not be necessary. In the case of practical subjects, this is particularly relevant. As we await detailed guidance from Ofqual, we do not believe that work completed at home following the school closures should be included in the range of evidence and data provided by teachers to inform grade calculations. This will inevitably lead to inequality for students unable to continue practical work at home.
- Schools should not insist that teachers make telephone calls or hold one-to-one video-conferences with children. On grounds of safeguarding, workload and equity for pupils, we advise against this in the strongest terms and urge our members to contact us if they are instructed to make direct contact with pupils.
Online learning and safeguarding:
We are all turning to online tools to help us continue to operate during the Coronavirus restrictions. E-learning platforms, video conferencing, messaging and social media sites provide a wealth of opportunities to communicate and share material between colleagues and with pupils and their families. With that wealth of opportunity there is also a need for caution, to safeguard both staff and students.
- Do not record or allow students to record online learning activities - the potential to edit and share creates a safeguarding issue. Recording and storing of sessions without parental permission breaches General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- Do not hold one to one video or phone conversations with pupils, under any circumstances.
- Do check that your institution has an up to date policy and guidelines on the use of social media and online learning platforms - and adhere to it.
- Do not post content that identifies a pupil or pupils on wider social media without permission - that applies to pupil’s work, comments, video or voice recording. Permission must be sought from their parents or guardians.
- Do not share (or allow your school to share) your personal contact details - telephone numbers, email address, personal social media accounts with pupils, their parents or carers.
- Do be aware of your ongoing responsibility to continue to follow your setting's established safeguarding procedures if you become aware of any child protection concerns.
NSEAD’s Council and Forum have put together a list of reviewed resources in our resources page, as part of #NSEADcreate. We will be developing this section over the next few weeks, with more guidance and ideas for remote working - and how to make it work.
Teachers supporting on-site provision
As well as remote learning provision, teachers have been designated as key workers and many will be supporting on-site provision for the care of vulnerable children and the children of other key workers. With mounting concerns about the protection of front line staff in the NHS and care settings, NSEAD continues to call for the Government employers to take all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of staff who continue to work on-site. This means:
- Providing appropriate personal protective equipment for all staff on site.
- Ensuring that a rigorous disinfecting and cleaning regime is maintained in all areas used by pupils and staff.
- Providing sufficient supplies of hand sanitizers and wipes for all those on-site.
- Ensuring that the miniumum physical distancing recommendations can be observed -i.e 2 metres space between all those on site, at all times.
- Not requiring staff who have underlying health issues or share a home with anyone in a vulnerable health category to attend on-site.
When on site caring for vulnerable children and children of key workers, teachers must not be required to attend meetings,complete paperwork or planning related to remote learning provision.
NSEAD asks that employers set out their expectations clearly to staff. That these expectations are realistic, and recognise that normal standards of provision are not appropriate or achievable at this time. We repeat our call for respect, care and kindness for all within our education community.